Originally published in the Summer + Fall 2020 issue
As spring arrives each year, Heidi Beachley of Rocky Mountain Paddleboard and Christine Malmborg of Dragonfly Paddle Yoga eagerly dust off their paddleboard equipment and prepare to dive back into the world of SUP yoga. Whether it’s on Boulder Reservoir or Monument Lake, connecting with nature and the water through yoga is something both women look forward to all year long. Stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga has become a new and exciting activity in Colorado over the past several summers. If you’re looking to switch up your yoga routine and get out of the studio and onto the water, SUP yoga is waiting.
Victoria Rasnick, operations officer of Rocky Mountain Paddleboard, believes Colorado is well suited to the growing SUP yoga community, because of the thriving yoga scene, great weather and the drive toward overall fitness and health that much of the population supports.
The options for SUP yoga companies in Colorado are plentiful, so finding a place near you shouldn’t be too difficult. If you’re looking for guidance, Dragonfly Paddle Yoga in the Colorado Springs/Monument area and Rocky Mountain Paddleboard in the Denver/Boulder area are great places to start.
“If you’re attracted to this sport, get a park pass, do a lot of SUP, take a lesson or two and learn some tricks,” says Beachley. “It’ll be the highlight of your summer.”
So, what exactly is SUP yoga? In concept, it seems simple — paddle out into the middle of a reservoir or lake and practice yoga like you are in the studio. However, factor in the water currents, the wind and the instability of being on a moving surface, and you’re faced with a litany of new challenges.
As seasoned yogis know all too well, balance is key. While the lack of said balance can be intimidating, Malmborg advises students to “stay calm and connect with your breath.” Malmborg has been paddling since 2016; after only a summer on the water, she decided she wanted to start a business. “I’m motivated and passionate about creating experiences for people,” she explains.
As an instructor, she begins her classes with a warm-up and then advances into more challenging poses, but makes sure that she is adaptable and teaches to the class’ experience level. Once students find harmony with their breath and their surrounding environment, their comfort level will increase.
“Practicing yoga in nature with no mirrors is a gift,” Beachley shares. “You’ll gain strength mentally and physically; your balance will improve; you’ll try asanas in a different way. It’s adventurous.”
Beachley believes there’s always something to be learned from SUP, particularly in the way of form. She says you have to be fully present in order to move with the board, and she challenges herself and her students to make goals for themselves each week, each season, and really strive for them. She also completely supports the idea of jumping right into the water.
Beachley describes the water as “forgiving,” especially in comparison to a hardwood studio floor, and Malmborg says that you need to respect water by being fully present in the moment. Both instructors agree that once you’re out on the water, it’s like being transported out of the bustling city life and into nature.
Malmborg, a big proponent of conservation efforts, also likes to educate her students on the interconnectedness of all life.
“Getting out and communing with nature empowers people to try something new,” she explains.
Dragonfly Paddle Yoga offers volunteer lake clean up events in order to help keep waterways clean and raise awareness of the natural wonder of water.
This summer, get outside, grab a paddleboard and reconnect with nature. We may live in a landlocked state, but water still exists all around us. Water is our life force. Too often, we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our daily routine and forget to switch things up.
For SUP season, take conscious action to vary that routine and reconnect with your roots. The water is refreshing — jump in.