BOGA Yoga Ambassador, marine life activist and St. Augustine resident Jessica Amendola doesn’t operate her yoga studio in a building; it’s located on the water.
SUP Yoga Center is completely mobile and open to a variety of skill levels, with a portion of its proceeds supporting marine life conservation organizations. Amendola started her St. Augustine-based business in March 2016 after growing up near the ocean and accruing a decade of experience practicing yoga and paddle boarding.
"My parents are entrepreneurs as well, so they've always encouraged me to follow my passion and not settle for nine-to-five in an office because that's just never been who I am," she said. "I took the plunge and tried it and put my whole heart into it and it's been incredible. I do think when you're doing something you're passionate about, people are drawn to that."
SUP Yoga Center features regularly scheduled classes that take place off the St Augustine Lighthouse Boat Ramp. Amendola calls it a "floating studio."
"I developed this anchor system that keeps everybody anchored down and also in a nice line," she said. "Typically, it's an hour-and-a-half class and we do at least 20 minutes of paddle boarding, so people can experience that part of it as well."
Additionally, the center offers teacher training for yoga instructors who are interested in starting their own business.
During a class, Amendola said she often paddle boards for ten minutes before finding a quiet spot that's protected from the wind to anchor with her students. The most unique aspect of SUP Yoga Center, Amendola noted, is that participants spend entire lessons doing yoga on paddleboards. She described the experience as a "full body workout" that allows for "deeper stretches."
Aside from the physical benefits, Amendola noted that her yoga classes produce mental benefits as well.
"Yoga is supposed to be a moving meditation where your mind is connected to what your body is doing," she said. "And your body is connected to your breath, so everything is moving as one when you're out here.”
One of the benefits of doing yoga in a natural environment is that people can forget about the stresses of life and "just breathe," the instructor noted.
"I think there are spiritual, mental, physical benefits to practicing on the water," she added.
Those who are interested in participating can register for a session online at www.supyogacenter.com/sup-yoga-1. For more information, visit www.supyogacenter.com/about.