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Beach Yoga: Mind, body and water

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For many, there’s nothing quite like the sound of tranquil dripping waters to put your mind at ease and a calm throughout your body. Often a background sound in yoga studios, Tara Giese, owner and instructor of Lakes Fit Yoga located in downtown Brainerd, has taken that water tranquility to a new level with paddleboard and beach yoga sessions, the latest in exercise trends.

Offered for the first time as an official class in the area this summer, Giese’s paddleboard yoga invited interested parties out to the waters of Gull Lake off the shore of Grand View Lodge, where many of the same yoga techniques are altered to be on a paddleboard.

Students first paddled out from the shore on waters that required the same calmness that yoga entices to various spots on the lake. Giese said the session then begins with students on all fours to establish stability, increasing moves and confidence slowly until they are comfortable. And with headstands, arm balances and back bends on the board, Giese said the focus and clarity required brings yoga’s mind and body emphasis to the forefront.

“It’s just an insane connection for your body,” said Giese, who in conjunction with Grand View Lodge brought the idea of paddleboard yoga with her from living on the coasts where the exercise is widely popular. “It’s (the board) stable enough where you can do the things typically done in yoga classes on ground, but it’s also unstable enough where you really have to focus.

“You’re not thinking about your day — which a friend of mine said is one of the issues she has with yoga because it’s so slow your mind tends to wander if you’re not used to it ­— and instead you’re so focused on the motions and your body. It’s really cool.”

Available on Wednesday and Saturday from June through the end of August, Giese said she had 50 people come try the hour-long paddleboard yoga sessions this summer, averaging anywhere from three to 15 people per class.

“A lot of people are hesitant to come out and try it, because it does seem kind of insane,” said Giese, who admitted when Grand View approached her with the idea she wasn’t sure she would be able to even stand on the board. “But out of the 50 people I had out here this summer, I had maybe a total of five fall in and I was one of them along with two excelled students who were challenging themselves.

“It scares a lot of people, but once they get out and try it, it’s actually very empowering because you showed yourself and your body that you could do it. Plus, it’s an exercise available for any yoga level, and every age and body type.”

For those not quite ready to test the waters per say, beach yoga was also offered through Lakes Fit Yoga and Grand View.

An option for the past three years, Giese said there were times that her class drew 40 people to Grand View Lodge’s beach.

“When you have that many people out there, on a beautiful summer day, it builds such a great energy,” she said. “Some days we were on the sand, others up on the grass, but the scenery brings an entirely new element to the peacefulness and strength in a yoga session.”

And as popularity for the yoga trend continues to increase, Giese said both paddleboard and beach yoga will make a return next summer.

“I have some changes I want to make to our paddleboard yoga, make it an hour-and-half session instead of just an hour with the required paddling to a spot cutting yoga time,” said the 30-year-old Giese. “But I think it’s going to become more popular with each passing summer.

“It’s really all about the mind and body focus and when you add onto the strength it requires on water, you really can’t beat it.”

JESSI PIERCE, staff writer, may be reached at 855-5859 or Follow her on Twitter at (@jessi_pierce).