By Kim Fuller Published in Elevation Outdoors
Five years ago, stand-up paddleboard yoga was just emerging in Colorado. One of the state’s first SUP yoga initiators, Julie Circo, said it was around that time when “people were laughing” at the on-water yoga classes she began to offer through her company, Paddle Yoga Colorado, based out of the Vail Valley. Circo said once people started trying it, many realized that SUP yoga is accessible even without yoga or paddling experience.
“Most of the people I get don’t even do yoga, or have never been on a paddleboard,” Circo said, “and they just want to do something fun outside.”
Shawn Rodine, owner and founder of Rocky Mountain Paddleboard, which has locations at Boulder Reservoir, Union Reservoir and Cherry Creek Reservoir, said the yoga and water sport combination gets a wide variety of people in the flow.
“We crave water and there’s a lack of it here in Colorado, so this is a really good way to get close to the water and to feel it moving through your fingers as you are floating in savasana,” Rodine said.
With the swift growth of SUP yoga, paddleboard manufacturers have also started making yoga-specific boards—they are more stable than surfing, downriver or touring boards, and they feature tacky deck pads, that feel much like yoga mats, even when wet. You can practice yoga on any SUP however, and Rocky Mountain Paddleboard does offer a discount on classes if you BYO board.
Further south, SUP Colorado Springs will offer seasonal classes at Quail Lake and Prospect Lake for a second consecutive summer this year.
Some may call SUP yoga a “fad,” perhaps something that will fizzle out. But San Diego-based Amelia Travis, founder of Stoked Yogi and yoga director at Glide SUP, thinks it’s an interesting time to be involved with the activity. She said it has has more first-time participants in the last three years than any other sport, ever. Her company’s SUP yoga teacher trainings have helped get the movement on the map.
Want to take it further? Stoked Yogi and Fluid SUP are offering a SUP yoga teacher training at Grand Lake, Colorado, from August 24-28, led by Fluid SUP’s Leda Olmsted.
Travis likes to say that “the board knows no yogi,” meaning that as soon as you get on the surface of the water, the practice takes on a new element for everyone.
With physical benefits like increased balance and stability, SUP yoga challenges participants to embrace fluidity, while focusing on staying steady in the body and the mind. Attributes that pay off in classic outdoor sports like cycling and skiing, too.
“When you’re floating in the middle of a lake and there are birds flying by you and there are fish jumping, breezes going through your hair and water lapping against your board,” shared Rodine, “you are forced to disconnect from technology, from stress, and really connect with yourself and nature in such a big way.”