Imagine, after a long day of work, standing in the middle of the Susquehanna River meditating and letting the stress of the day roll off your shoulders with every bead of sweat. Meanwhile, blue herons fly above, otters splash nearby and fish swim all around you.
At Studio 723’s Yoga on the Barge, that image is reality.
In this unconventional hour-long marina experience, participants balance together on a floating barge overlooking the Susquehanna. The experience is set to the sounds of nature instead of music.
“Yoga in itself is a stress-free relieving class. Nature does the same thing. … The third element is water. Anytime you’re out on the water or you see the water, it’s a calming effect,” says Theresa Mulqueen, owner of Studio 723, which opened last year. “So then you add yoga with nature on the water, and you have a perfect storm.”
The barge, which holds about 17 people (16 yogis plus an instructor) moves with the tide and the movement created by the group.
“We haven’t had anyone fall off yet, and it’s been four years,” Mulqueen says with a laugh.
“Some days are rougher than others, and that’s what makes it extra challenging,” Mulqueen continues. “When you’re in a balancing pose, in order to help you, you’re supposed to have a steady eye gaze on something that’s not moving, and that’s not possible on the barge.”
This class was initially established by the owners of Havre de Grace Marina and is now maintained by Studio 723. Classes on the barge are currently held Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to noon. Barge yoga is for all levels, and students range in age from 18 to 72.
“I even took my 8-year-old granddaughter,” says one class participant, Joanne McBride.
Mulqueen’s husband, Joe, reports seeing geese, eagles and otters during class. The instructors, Colleen Webster and Meaghan Sanchez, pepper the class with their knowledge about Susquehanna wildlife.
Yogis can expect to encounter more than wildlife, too.
At one point, “there was a fishing boat coming past and they actually pulled up to the barge and asked if we knew where there was a bait shop,” McBride says.
Yoga on the Barge is typically in the sun, so participants will want to lather up with sunscreen before class.
But there’s an option for yogis who would rather stay out of the rays. Full moon yoga, also held on the barge, runs from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. monthly and costs $25.
“It’s a great date night because you can come do your yoga and then you watch the full moon rise over the river,” says Mulqueen.
Class is followed by a bonfire and light snacks, and participants are welceom to bring a beverage of their choice.
Mulqueen hopes to do more than yoga at Studio 723, though she and many of class participants may agree the barge experience is special.
“It’s the most amazing thing you’ll ever experience, I guarantee it,” says Mulqueen.