STRETCHING the standard: Stand-up paddle yoga and fitness sweeps across the country

Dylan Silver/Tahoe Daily Tribune

Dylan Silver/Tahoe Daily Tribune

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"Up dog. Then down dog. Deep breath. Look at the horizon. Open your heart. Breathe in. Breathe out. One more time."

Jenay Aiksnoras's yoga session would've been like any other if it weren't for the geese swimming by, the soft lap of waves on the beach, and a studio floor suspended over the green and blue hues of Lake Tahoe.

Stand-up paddle yoga is Aiksnoras' newest class. The owner and operator of Svadyaya Yoga in Stateline jumped on the stand-up paddle fitness trend, which is sweeping across the country in a variety of forms.

"It's always exciting to have something new, to involve people in something they would never think to try," Aiksnoras said. "It's not as hard as you'd think it would be."

Aiksnoras held her first class last week. Though there was only one student, Susan Glasson, who had never been on a paddle board before, nobody fell in the water - and people shouldn't expect to, Aiksnoras said.

"I'll do anything outside," Glasson said. "I'm not worried about (falling in the water). I'm a swimmer."

After a quick lesson from Chris Brackett, owner of South Tahoe Standup Paddle, the two paddled just off Regan Beach and started into cycles of poses.

Mainly focusing on sitting, kneeling and standing stretches, Glasson, led by Aiksnoras, floated through the two-hour course, pausing for a laugh during the boat pose.

"One thing I noticed was I didn't have to worry about my breath," Glasson said. "There's something really organic about breathing (while on the paddle board). You need it to balance."

From Maui to New York, Southern California to Michigan, stand-up paddle fitness classes are popping up in rivers, lakes and oceans. There's stand-up yoga, or "yoga on water," stand-up Pilates, stand-up boot camps and even stand-up gymnastics.

"People around the country are meeting up for this," Brackett said of the trend. "I've seen it in magazines and all over Facebook."

Corrie Anderson, another South Lake Tahoe stand-up fitness fanatic, started her own series Balance Paddle-Fit. She describes the workout as "functional intense training on a paddle board."

"What I did is took a bunch of programs and made my own," Anderson said. "I kind of fused Pilates, yoga and strength and cardio exercises."

Anderson's class, through Balance Body Studio, runs in month-long sets with one session each week. The June set was completely full with a waiting list, Anderson said.

As stand-up fitness emerges, gear tailored specifically to that segment of the sport is being developed. Boga Boards, a Nevada City, Calif., stand-up paddle board company, has designed a board specifically for yoga: The Boga Yoga Fitness Board.

The Boga Yoga has a wide, flat shape and a cushioned, yoga mat-like surface. The model is great for all types of stand-up fitness, and works well as a paddling board, said Boga Boards owner David Meyler.

"Having a board made specifically for yoga or fitness gives that segment of the sport more validity," Meyler said. "We're excited about it. Not everybody is into racing or surfing."

Back on the South Shore, as Aiksnoras's lesson came to a close, student and teacher entered savasana, a neutral lying pose common at the end of yoga sessions. As a group up on the grass began their yoga class, Aiksnoras and Glasson drifted peacefully to shore.

"The fact that we get to be out on the water before any one else gives us the silence to be within ourselves," Aiksnoras said.


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