The Nature of Yoga: Watching Dolphins While Doing the Downward Dog

The Nature of Yoga: Watching Dolphins While Doing the Downward Dog
Russell Sadur/Getty

01/25/2010 AT 07:45 AM EST

The excitement of marine life and the serenity of yoga – it's a magical mix for those who like the stretch of the goddess pose, even while on vacation.

Inside Loreto Bay National Marine Park in the Baja Peninsula, yoga is practiced amid nature's passing parade, with its breathtaking birds and spectacular sea life, under the auspices of Sea Kayak Adventures. The company, one of the handful licensed to operate there, offers trips that combine the practice with sea kayaking and snorkeling in the Sea of Cortez.

A natural setting creates "the ultimate yoga class," says one of the instructors, Judy Kellogg. "The environment itself helps you to be present. It connects you right to the earth, the water and the animals." Classes are held on the beach in the morning and evening.

Gray whales, which migrate from Alaska, are visible from February through mid-March in nearby Magdalena Bay. "They raise their heads next to you and come over to get petted," Nancy Mertz, half of the husband-wife team that owns Sea Kayak Adventures, tells PEOPLEPets.com. If the whale-watchers are lucky, they will also see the elusive plankton-eating whale shark or the blue whale, Earth's largest mammal, in Loreto Bay.

The national park was created in 1996 by the Mexican government, after concerns grew about overfishing and the depletion of marine resources. In her two decades traveling and kayaking there, Mertz has happily watched the bay's resurgence, with an increasing population of whales and dolphins.

"An animal can come by at any moment," she says. That might be a leaping dolphin doing an aerial loop, or a red cardinal alighting on a nearby cactus.

Mertz herself keeps an eye out for seabirds and pelicans. And "every time I put on my snorkel, I hope I see a new fish," she says. It's impossible to predict, however, exactly what marine and bird life will be present – that's the serendipity of being in such a natural environment.

For yoga enthusiasts, the draw may be the wildlife, but the physical activity of the excursions is also good for the body. Kellogg points out that the practice and kayaking complement each other well. "Your upper body is doing all the work," she says, "while your lower body is fixed in position." The yoga adds movement and stretching.

Still, the animals trump the yoga. When dolphins swam by during a class she was teaching last year, Kellogg says, "everyone stopped and was just in awe."

Yoga and kayaking adventure packages at Magdalena Bay, which include five days of yoga on the beach each morning, start at $995 for adults. Click here for more information.

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