Waterway to Wellness: Why Vail should be Your Next Paddle Yoga Destination

Aug 13, 2015

When I first learned about paddle yoga, it did not spark my interest.  It seemed unnecessary to combine the two. Why would I want to be on a SUP not paddling? Why would I want to be on the water and not be able to go anywhere? Yet what I really should have been asking myself was, "Why the heck not?"
This summer, I moved to Vail, Colorado and began paddling as a way to escape my landlocked surroundings. My new surroundings also inspired me to signup for my first SUP yoga class. I wanted time on the water and needed a good stretch.

After only an hour out on the lake my past misconceptions were obliterated. Surrounded by dramatic mountain vistas and the gentle rocking of the current, I rediscovered what it means to practice yoga.

Julie Circo, owner of Paddle Yoga Colorado, was my instructor for the day. A SUP yoga certified teacher, Julie offers weekly classes, private instruction, and guided tours out on the lakes and rivers of the Vail Valley. Despite her years of experience, the journey for her is an ongoing one, "I am a lifelong student of yoga. It teaches me more than anything year after year."

SUP_Yoga_Vail_Colorado.jpgJulie is incredibly passionate about teaching and her class sizes are always kept to a minimum, ensuring time to provide individual guidance as well as accommodate a variety of skill levels.  

"It's a unique way to practice. It's a playful and fun way to approach yoga where you don't need to take yourself so seriously," explained Circo. She also touched on an important aspect that still resonates with me, "Paddle yoga takes you back to the beginners mind."

Downward dog, a pose I have flowed through thousands of times was suddenly a challenge. I felt like a first-time yogi, wobbling on my board, struggling to find equilibrium. I began to appreciate each familiar pose in a new way.

Once warmed up, we began to build upon sequences and I realized that rushing was not an option. Paddle yoga requires micro movements and a calm agility. You never know how the current will shift, or whether mother nature's temperamental buzz will take effect.  

This is what makes paddle yoga unpredictably challenging and at the same time incredibly revitalizing. Drop into downward dog, and catch a glimpse of an ethereal alpine wilderness, press into upward-facing dog and you can watch the cresting baby waves. Sometimes the water wants to shift your board, offering an entirely new vista to take in and appreciate.

On the lake with Julie, I was fully immersed. Focused on inhabiting every pose with newfound alignment, my mind was clear and open. Practice was highlighted by holding crow pose and the best savasana a student could experience.

As summer winds down, I know I am due for another round of revitalization. For those of you that are in search of a last minute retreat, I advise an escape to the Vail Valley for its upcoming Peak Wellness Retreat taking place August 22-23.  

The two-day event includes a wealth of activities and fitness adventures. Esteemed wellness coaches, women's health specialists, and leading female athletes will also give presentations. For all you iSurf iYoga enthusiasts, the retreat is highlighted by a SUP yoga class with Julie of Paddle Yoga Colorado on the beautiful Piney River.

For more information on how to get your paddle on in the mountains, visit paddleyogacolorado.com. For more information and to register for Vail's women's Peak Wellness Retreat, visit peakwellnessretreat.com.  

Neko Catanzaro

Neko_Catanzaro_Authors_Profile.jpgNeko is a nomad at heart and writer by trade. Her travels have taken her to many regions of the world, including Australasia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. As an outdoor fitness enthusiast, Neko is always pushing herself to try new things and see new places. Whether it’s rock climbing to new heights, setting the pace on mountain trails, or paddling out on the water, her gear gets dirty before it gets clean. For Neko, happiness lies in the pursuit. It’s either a good time or a good story, and she knows she’ll want to tell both.

You can follow her on Twitter @pitchperfectpen and Instagram @rock2ocean.

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