Spa Junkie at… Cotton House, Mustique

Our jet-set reporter limbers up for some surfing-cum-sun-salutations

Mustique may have areputation as the playground of the rich, royals and a rock’n’roll elite, butthat doesn’t mean it’s all sunbathing and parties. I’m staying at one ofthe Grenadine island’s two hotels, Cotton House (the other is The Firefly),where they have “Keep Fit and Have Fun” weeks, run by yoga and fitness guruCharity, who has studied with some of the world’s best, from SeaneCorn to Shiva Rea. She is renowned for her range of movement classes, from breakdance and hip-hop to African/Caribbean dance and kickboxing.Her pièce de résistance, however, is paddle-board yoga, which she teaches onMustique for seven months of the year, and around the world for the remaining five months .

I've heard ofstand-up paddle boarding – the Hawaiian heritage sport that combines surfingwith kayaking, and which has experienced something of a renaissance of late – but paddle-board yoga is quite unknown to me. It certainly sounds intriguing, though, and remainingbalanced on an unstable surface must be a real workout for the legs and core.

Friday, 10am

I am met by thesprite-like Charity – all sun-kissed complexion and natural curls. With a beamingsmile she informs me that first of all we will do a yoga session on terrafirma, on the deck of my beach-facing cabana, to get an understanding ofmy yoga ability.

Two mats lie in thedappled shade and we begin with some sun salutations to open up the body, thenwork through a vinyasa flow sequence that lasts 60 minutes. Charity’s teachingtechnique is attentive and clear; I warm to her instantly.After the session, we start talking about tomorrow’s paddle-board class. Sheassures me that because the poses are being performed on a moving surface, I can expect an intense full-body workout. “You'll be engaging muscles you neverknew you had.”I spend the rest of my day lazing on a teak lounger by Cotton House’s boot-shapedpool, and take a leisurely stroll to Macaroni ­beach – past the amusing matingtortoise statue. The evening is atropical haze of bright lights and daiquiris with friends at Basil’s Bar –under the watchful eye of Basil Charles himself – or the King of Mustique, ashe is also known...

Saturday, 9am


I saunter down to the beach to meet Charity. We swim the 1.5km or so fromCotton House to Basil’s Bar. During 10 minutes of gentle breaststroke, wenatter about our travel adventures. She tells me how her love of movementdeveloped in France, where she loved seeing theurban free-runners dancing on the skylines. We stop talking to do 10 minutes ofbackstroke, followed by 10 minutes of front crawl. Refreshed and revitalised, I return to the veranda of Cotton House for atropical fruit salad and freshly pressed carrot and ginger juice.

11amBack on the beach, I stare down at my 2m-long yellow companion. Two-thirds ofthe board are covered with a ridged black material, for added grip, and there isalso a paddle lying next to it.

We begin with a gentlewarm-up and stretch on the sturdy surface of the beach, working through the salutations, cobra, downward dog, lunge andforward fold, inhaling and exhaling deeply. Then it’s time to move into thewater...

Charity explains: “Withpaddle-board yoga the tricky part is that the poses have to be done whilealigned correctly on the board, so that there is an even weight distribution.Think of the difference between doing exercises on a mat versus on a stabilityball.” Charity and I look at each other and laugh in acknowledgment of thecertainty that I will have to get used to falling off. Fast.

“We'll start withsome basic sun salutations,” she says, “but I want you standing on yourhead by the end of the class.” Standing on my head, on a surfboard, in themiddle of the ocean… I have only once done a headstand successfully on dry land.

Board under one arm, paddle in the other hand, I jog downto the water’s edge. I kneel on my board and launch myself into the water, paddling from side to side to get my heart pumping.


Check back on TuesdayFebruary 12, when Spa Junkie channels her inner Kate Bosworth.