As anyone who’s ever been to twilight yoga at the Jupiter Lighthouse will tell you, the class is—at the risk of sounding too sentimental—life-changing. From the meandering walk through the lighthouse gardens to the behemoth of a banyan tree under which dozens of people practice, to the Insta-worthy sunsets and symphony of crickets, each moment of the class is magical.
Nature aside, that magic is all thanks to Mary Veal, a Jupiter resident and nationally certified yoga instructor specializing in vinyasa, yoga nidra and yoga for arthritis. Veal, who has been teaching yoga classes for more than 10 years, began leading twilight yoga in 2013 at the request of friend and Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum president and CEO Jamie Stuve. Today, the class has a cult following and a long line of yogis waiting to lay down their mats every Monday evening (the class begins at 6 p.m.
November through March and 7 p.m. April through October).
“It just took off because it’s such a beautiful space; it’s meant for yoga,” Veal says of the yoga deck, which can accommodate up to 140 people. “Being in nature, even if it’s just for an hour—feeling the vibes of the environment, the weather, the animals, whatever’s happening—it’s important for our nervous system.”
Veal’s practice began in a far less glamorous fashion more than 20 years ago when she saw an ad for a free class on a roadside billboard. Having suffered from arthritis and similar ailments since childhood, she decided to give it a try.
“I said, ‘OK, I have nothing to lose.’ After just one class, I was like, ‘Wow, my body did what I told it to do,’” she recalls. “I started going every week, and about six months into it, I did 10 minutes of yoga on my own. I’ve been doing it every day since then.”
Several years and yoga certifications later, Veal left a long career at Comcast, and in 2018, opened Green Tara Yoga in Jupiter. The studio offers classes ranging from rock ‘n’ roll yoga to chair yoga, which Veal says is great for people struggling with arthritis (she is now the only certified yoga for arthritis instructor in the state), healing after surgery, or living with other chronic conditions or pain. All classes (including twilight yoga at the lighthouse) are taught by several different instructors, many of whom Veal has led in their 200-hour certification.
“I try to offer classes with a wide variety of teachers and a wide variety of styles. There’s no hot yoga, there are no mirrors, there’s no competition. It’s just try whatever speaks to you until you find something you like,” she says.
Yoga classes aside, Veal also hosts an annual yoga retreat in Sebastian—the next one is in January—and several international yoga retreats to places like Africa, Peru and Iceland.
To date, Veal recalls India as her most memorable retreat, not only as the birthplace of yoga, but as a reminder that the practice of yoga brings people together—whether lying underneath a banyan tree at sunset or kneeling on a floor across the globe.
“When you start doing yoga and you start seeing that inner peace inside yourself, you see it everywhere. There are no strangers anywhere in the world,” Veal says. “What’s important is to appreciate the cultural differences, but to see the sameness—that love, that compassion and that joy—in everyone.”