Certified yoga instructor Melissa Davis brings her calming energy and yoga poses to Seaside every morning, where she leads a class looking out at the water. (Don’t you feel more relaxed just thinking about it?) The longtime yogi is passionate about creating a class that’s always approachable, while still challenging even the most devoted practitioners daily.
We spoke to the mastermind behind Seaside’s yoga program to find out how she landed in town, when she started practicing, and what to expect when you bring your mat to the Seaside Pavilion every morning.
Melissa has strong ties to the community. She told us about moving here and said, “I was originally in the restaurant business and I was hired to manage the Rose Cafe in Seaside, which is now The Great Southern Cafe. I then met my husband Larry Davis, and this New Year’s Eve, we’ll have been married 30 years. Our first date was on New Year’s Eve the year before at Bud and Alley’s, and then we got married a year later in the gazebo at Bud & Alley’s, where the outdoor bar now is.”
Melissa’s first exposure to yoga was from her yogi brother in Southern California. “When I was as little as five, I’d go to the yoga studios with him and I was just very intrigued. The opportunity came up 20 years ago for me to do a teacher training, and since then I’ve probably worked with 20 of the world’s best teachers,” she said. Seane Corn, Kathryn Budig, and Erich Schiffmann are a few beloved teachers she traveled to train with.
Melissa has been teaching consistently on 30A for 20 years. She then started offering regular classes in Seaside last year during the pandemic. “I offered outdoor classes,” she explained. “First we were at the Lyceum, then we were in Ruskin Place, and now we’re at the Pavilion, which is our final home. It’s my favorite location in Seaside or anywhere, it’s just the best.”
The yoga program was an ideal way to bring people together in an outdoor distanced space, she says. “Everybody is very appreciative of practicing together and feeling safe in an outdoor space. People are very grateful to come together. Locals are riding their bikes in and walking. It’s just a great opportunity for guests.”
And while her classes are challenging, they’re also ideal for beginners, as she walks everyone through the poses. “I try to make it feel like their own space, like their own yoga home. My classes are welcoming. I try to be genuine as we do a steady flow,” she said. “I don’t want it to be a challenge, but I want people to know that yes, we are going to move the whole body.”
She jokes that at old studios, “They used to call me ‘Sneaky Spice’ because my voice is calm, and the practice isn’t fast, but it’s consistent. Before people are realizing it, they’re sweating. I try to meet people where they are and give them modifications and variations and really focus on breathing and moving their body, not on the way that it looks.”
And while it’s not technically hot yoga she says, “In spring mornings the weather might be cooler but it’s going to feel like hot yoga pretty soon.”
For a cool down, you could always stop by Bud & Alley’s after class and try her son Hunter’s beer. In a full circle moment, it’s both where she met her husband and where her son is offering his Bud’s Brew beer on tap.
If you’re interested in taking Melissa’s class you can find her daily at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday through Friday at the Seaside Pavilion. Bring a mat, towel, and water and get ready to move. She also offers private lessons. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on booking her.