the walking tree
Approaching our tenth year of offering PaddleYoga to local practitioners as well as international guests, we have forged a special relationship between the communities of SUP and yoga. Just as the versatile red mangroves spread their branches and drop down roots, so our practice, our intentions, our classes, our experiences continue to grow.
Our philosophy when it comes to the practice of yoga sprouts from the studio. When translating classic Hatha asanas upon a StandUp Paddleboard, alignment is key. Due to the added challenges of practicing on a floating platform (such as first and secondary stabilities, curvature of the deck, even the material of the deck pad) as well as the challenges Mother Nature provides (wind, currents, climate, tides) we are forced to confront elements of our practice we would otherwise take for granted. Often times this means bringing poses back to their basics, even holding a preparatory pose long before expanding into the full translation in order to position joints, engage muscles, breathe fully, move prana, access potential. In many ways the evolution of adapting a new element to a yoga practice can conjure the very roots from which it sprang forth, we need only access it. All of our instructors teach land-based classes at various studios around Key West. Whether it is an energizing Vinyasa style or a restorative Yin inspired, the basics and integrity of traditional yoga are observed in order to maintain the journey of a yoga practice.
Our philosophy concerning StandUp Paddleboarding follows the very same that which we approach yoga. Just as yogic lineages influence our current trajectory, so does the history of StandUp Paddleboarding. The rich Polynesian roots of this tradition stems from the eclectic oceanic cultures which fostered outrigger canoeing, prone paddleboarding and surfing.* From the infamous Waikiki Beach Boys, to the modern day steerers of OC6 crafts, the roots of SUP are intrinsically tied to watermen experience, knowledge of environment, technique and the same adventurous spirit that propels into the future.
Just as rational sequencing guides a yoga practice, a proper SUP stroke technique is imperative to share and guarantee an informed and enjoyable class experience. Our instructors have sought out some of the best in the industry to gleen advice and counsel. Actively involved in the southern Florida SUP racing circuit, we've been lucky enough to glean advice and take workshops with Danny Ching, Jim Terrell, Mike Metzgar as well as World Paddling Association Class Level 2 Certification with Gary Wise.
Equipment knowledge is just a part of our program that contributes to safety as a whole. We are very lucky to have access to over 30 boards in the Lazy Dog quiver, including top brands such as Jimmy Lewis, Riviera, Surftech and YOLO. StandUp Paddles such as carbon-fiber Quickblade, and Kialoa as well as plastic and aluminum Surftech paddles are some of our favorites (and a friendly Lazy Dog staff member can help you choose one fitted to take home with you!) Much more than just a "skill" or a means to an end, SUPing is a lifestyle which we love to share with others.
planting a seed
Key West Paddle Board Yoga was created in September of 2008. It began when a local yoga instructor, Tara McCabe, was invited by longtime friend Sue Cooper, owner of Lazy Dog, to try out Stand-Up Paddleboarding. At the time, only Sue and a few of her staff members at Lazy Dog were to be found "standing" on water around Cow Key Channel. Weilding oversize bamboo paddles, they ventured around the calm blue waters upon their skinny yellow and red 11'6" Jimmy Lewis boards. Tara, always playful and up for an adventure, placed her paddle down, spread her toes and fingers and worked around the board in several yoga poses. With a little splash and some laughs, Tara was convinced a yoga class could be offered upon these floating mats. "Why not?" was the reply from Sue. And so, the first paddle yoga class consisted of friends...yogis and non-yogis...and Key West Paddle Board Yoga was born.
Over the following years we became fully integrated under the Lazy Dog family, and decided go with what we commonly refer to it in the SUP Dawg Paddle Shack: PaddleYoga. Each year we continue to grow our program and offer the best information that we can pass on to our students.
We are based out of Key West, Florida. Our strategic location at the Lazy Dog Paddle Shack allows us to have the option of paddling to the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, or playing along the edges of Cow Key Channel. The US's southernmost mangroves offer protection from the wind, and tides, thus providing the perfect spot for a PaddleYoga session. As the lush surroundings become our studio, the calm, clear and still waters of the tropics are the surface upon which we find balance.
*West, Mark. Stand Up Paddle: A Paddlers Guide. Batani Books. 2012. Print.