Meet Kari Craig of Beach Yoga with Kari. Craig rediscovered herself through yoga in 2019 and now helps others find physical, mental, and spiritual peace through the practice with her beach yoga classes in Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches.
Tell us about your background in yoga? When (year) did you get started? Why did you decide to start practicing yoga?
I never really had any exposure to yoga until much later in life, I didn’t start until I was 39 years old. Being a single Mom with a bustling Real Estate career was overwhelming at times because I lacked good boundaries with my clients. I worked morning, noon, and night to the point of exhaustion. I found myself coping with the stressors of life with alcohol and food. I started practicing when a friend saw that I was really struggling with my mental health. She suggested that I take a hot yoga class at the Hot Yoga Lounge in Palm Coast. One thing led to another, and I wound up completing a challenge that the studio offered, “30 days of Hot Yoga” in January of 2019. This challenge was to show up every single day in January and take a class without missing a day. This challenge of ultimate consistency nurtured my love and appreciation for this beautiful practice.
Additionally, why did you decide to start teaching yoga?
I started teaching in September 2020. I entered myself into the Yoga Teacher Training program at the Hot Yoga Lounge because I really felt a pull to my true calling through yoga. Real Estate has always been an amazing career for me where I thrive professionally, but I still felt as though I had a higher spiritual calling. The mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits were really showing up in all areas of my life, both personally and professionally. I was calmer, I started sleeping better, I drank less alcohol, I didn’t feel as depressed and anxious. I was so excited to learn more about the practice and lineage of yoga and deepen my own personal practice through the program. I never had the intention to teach originally, I was just so smitten with the process that I knew I had to push myself to try something new and different that I had a passion for. After attending the first month or so of training, my mindset completely changed. I began to practice teaching and it came so naturally to me. I knew then I was onto something and that I would continue sharing my love for this practice with the world. Teaching others how to heal their bodies and energy through yoga became more magical and gratifying with each passing day. Watching the transformation of my students through the years has been a tremendous gift that I am so grateful for.
What training have you had?
I completed 500 hours of Yoga Teacher Training in Hot Vinyasa Yoga through the Hot Yoga Lounge in Palm Coast, FL. I did my first 200 hours in 2020, and then my last 300 hours in 2021. I always equate it to the most emptying yet filling experience one can ever have. The physical and emotional element of the training was ultimately draining, in the best way possible. The time commitment was grueling and really pushed me to my edges. Transversely, the physical, mental, and spiritual benefits were overwhelmingly abundant. I could feel my energy rising, I could feel myself growing stronger through the program. It was such a beautiful process and really taught me about who I am as a person.
Tell us about the benefits to yoga? How does it benefit you personally?
The benefits of yoga are truly endless. Yoga is like medicine for me. Before I started doing yoga, I was on a handful of prescription medications to improve my mental health, focus, concentration, anxiety levels and more. I am happy and proud to say that today, I no longer drink alcohol regularly or take medications. Yoga gave me healthy coping tools that just made the world seem better and brighter. Deep breathing combined with body movement really soothed any stressor that came my way. I became more patient and graceful in all areas of my life. Not only that, but my body became so much stronger and more capable of moving, bending, and doing things that at one time may have felt taxing or impossible to do.
Why yoga over other forms of exercise/activity?
In my humble opinion, yoga is more than just a workout. It is a work IN. It is like a workout, therapy, relaxation, and self-care, all rolled up into one activity. You can either come to your mat to forget about the world, or you can come to your mat to process through any problems or issues that are going on in your day-to-day life.
What makes doing yoga on the beach better than in a traditional yoga studio?
There are benefits to both studio practice and Beach Yoga, however, Beach Yoga has the added benefits of the presence of Vitamin D from the sun, moving, fresh air via the ocean breezes, and heavenly views of the ocean and stunning Florida skies. Also, the sound of the ocean waves is super beneficial in helping us into a deeply meditative state. We also get to witness Florida wildlife in action. We see dolphins play, sea turtles, gopher turtles, Heron, seagulls, and so much more! Beach Yoga is more than just yoga. It is about learning how to tap into and flow with whatever the Universe gives us on any given day. Some days we have high tides, some low. Some days we have full sun, some days it is cloudy. The beach always offers a different landscape for us to tune into so we can tap into our most connected selves. Beach Yoga really stimulates grounding and overall wellness because your body can absorb oxygen easier due to the presence of negative ions in the air. We flow through life just as we flow at the Beach.
How long are beach yoga sessions?
Beach Yoga lasts one hour from start to finish. This includes about 10 minutes of meditation to start class, followed by 40 minutes of gentle body movement, finishing with about 10 minutes of meditation/ savasana (resting pose).
If our readers want to attend a class, what would they need to do?
Everyone is just welcome to show up! The beach is super spacious and has plenty of room for all. All students are encouraged to join our Facebook Group, ‘Beach Yoga with Kari’ for updates on weather, tides, and cancellations, or subscribe to our text list by texting the word INFO to 386-225-7499.
Do they need to be at a specific skill level?
Absolutely not. Yoga is for EVERYBODY. Any age, race, gender, ethnicity, body type is welcomed and embraced in our classes. The true beauty of yoga is that any pose can be modified to fit any body with any range of mobility. In the classes I teach, students are highly encouraged to move in ways that feel good, and if it doesn’t feel good, they are encouraged to simply do something else. The students are also encouraged to push further if they have a more advanced practice so that they can feel the fulfillment that they are after. For folks who have limited to no mobility, can experience benefits by just laying on their back and closing their eyes while visualizing themselves doing yoga in their mind's eye. That, too, is yoga. It is up to the practitioner to find their own personal edges and allowances through their own practice.
What’s the cost for a class if a visitor wants to drop in?
The energy exchange for class is $10.
What’s special about the full moon session? It sounds so unique.
Firstly, Full Moon Beach Yoga is a whole vibe simply because of the beauty that we get to witness while we practice. With the sun setting behind us in the west, the skies turn into a stunning painting that changes every minute. From the golden light of the sunset to the light pink cotton candy skies, to deep indigo twilight within the hour that we are there. Then we get to see the brilliant sight of the Full Moon rising in the East over the ocean. The Full Moon can be a powerful tool that we harness with gentle body movement and meditation while focusing on releasing anything that no longer serves our highest and best path, and manifesting all that we desire. We also use the Full Moon’s energy to align ourselves and our energy centers so that we can refresh, rejuvenate, and release any built-up tension or stress. Each Full Moon offers a different message or lesson that we can tie in to make each experience unique and magical. We also hold a releasing ceremony to follow Yoga class where we write down what no longer serves our highest and best good, then we burn it and release the ashes into the ocean. It is a very cathartic process and deeply healing for all who have experienced this part.
What do you love about living and working in Flagler County?
We live, work, and play in literal paradise! What isn’t there to love?! Our community is strong and thriving, it is such a blessing for all. I am blessed with the ability to help people heal their own energy and find their life purpose through yoga and energy healing. And I also get to sell the Florida Dream by helping people buy and sell homes. It is picturesque and the weather is blissful almost the whole year round. I would never live anywhere else!
What’s your favorite pose and why?
There are too many to list, but I adore my inversion practice of headstands, forearm stands and handstands. They make me feel powerful, invincible, and balanced. It is also deeply therapeutic to flip your perspective upside down as often as possible. I also love Half- Moon or Ardha Chandrasana. I love this pose because it is big, bold, and takes up a lot of space. Balancing poses in any form are my jam!
Your Facebook page mentions the elements of fire, earth, water, and air? Can you explain the benefits of combining those elements in relation to yoga?
The four elements serve as a powerful guide in our yoga practice and in our lives. They teach us how to live in synergy with all that is around us. The fire element starts with the sun, and translates into our personal power, energy and strength. The earth element starts with the sand we stand on, and translates into our ability to ground ourselves through nurturing, understanding, and nourishment. The water element starts with the vast ocean and waves, and translates into our ability to flow with life just as water flows. And finally the air element starts with the beautiful, clean ocean air, and translates into our ability to breathe and connect to our deepest life force through our breath. When we are able to find alignment through these four elements, we are able to tap into true wisdom and freedom in our mind, body, and spirit.
Anything else you’d like to add?
If you try a yoga class and you don’t like it, try another one. There are so many different offerings here in Flagler County. And there are so many styles of yoga to choose from, from complete stillness through Restorative Yoga to constant movement with Power Flow Vinyasa. Each studio is vastly different, as well as each teacher. Try all different styles, studios, and teachers until you find your home. If you need help or someone to point you in the right direction, let me know. I am always here to help!
Through yoga you will find yourself. What a beautiful thing!