Liquid fitness: Paddleboard yoga

Stand-up paddleboarding has grown in popularity and now can serve as both a way to enjoy the lakes area, as well as practice yoga. It didn't take long for a group of aspiring yoga teachers to find their balance even though both the platform benea...

Amanda Grubbs reaches a headstand on a paddleboard during a Karmady Yoga & Fitness paddleboard yoga class with paddleboards from PowerPaddle SUP in the Pennington Mine Pit Lake in the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. Renee Richardson/Brainerd Dispatch

Stand-up paddleboarding has grown in popularity and now can serve as both a way to enjoy the lakes area, as well as practice yoga.

It didn't take long for a group of aspiring yoga teachers to find their balance even though both the platform beneath their feet and the background were constantly moving. For many, it was the first time they were trying yoga on a stand-up paddleboard.

Lara Parkin, owner and instructor with Karmady Yoga & Fitness of Aitkin, said the marriage of yoga and paddleboarding came as people began to explore what poses they could do on the board.

Ty LaTourneau, owner of PowerPaddle SUP, which is based on Bay Lake, serves the entire lakes area and works with Karmady Yoga & Fitness supplying boards for the paddleboard yoga class.

LaTourneau said people were just looking for harder ways to balance and the paddleboards provided a new challenge and opportunity.


"You've got balance. You've got core. Everything that yoga has. You put it on a board and everything is amplified," LaTourneau said.

For Parkin the attraction to take her yoga classes to the water came from being able to take the peacefulness she tries to promote in the studio out into a different environment.

"You get out there and it is awesome. It is so peaceful. And there is that challenge component but you don't have to make it challenging," Parkin said. "You can just be in simple poses-even just laying on your back on the paddleboard is yoga."

Parkin said people can work at their own skill level. While some people are able to execute difficult poses, even headstands with ease. Others may find the relaxation and challenge coming from a much simpler yoga pose and still find the experience rewarding, Parkin said.

"You have the water at your fingertips and the sky-you can't recreate that in the studio."

Parkin said the popularity of paddleboard yoga is exploding.

"It's just now starting to bloom here," Parkin said.

For some, it is overcoming a fear of the water, or the deep water of the mine pits. It can be a mental challenge.


"I love the pits because it is so clear," Parkin said of the water and the ability to see into the depths. Parkin said it can also be freeing because there is an element of being able to push into a pose and the worst thing that can happen is falling in the water. And, she noted, the paddleboards provide stability for side-to-side movement.

"I'm a little nervous because I can swim but I'm not a fan of falling in lake water, but I'm confident in Lara's ability to teach me," Odegaard said.

Parkin said the paddleboard yoga classes are less structured but provide a chance for everyone to try poses they are comfortable with and push themselves if they wish. Under sunny skies, the class drifted across the water quickly gaining in confidence as they tested their balance and strength in various poses. Odegaard never fell and by the end of the class was looking forward to trying yoga on her own paddleboard.

"It was really fun," Odegaard said. "I'll do it again."

Others noted it was challenging and harder than they expected to have both the landscape around them and the floor beneath them moving at the same time as they tried to balance in a pose. But they said it really engaged stomach muscles when they had a liquid floor beneath them.

"It's like yoga in space," said Heidi Haugen.

LaTourneau started PowerPaddle SUP about six years ago believing in the stand-up paddleboards and their growth potential. His business serves the Bay Lake Chain and surrounding areas from Cross Lake to Gull Lake and the Whitefish Chain.

"I've seen a huge increase in the popularity in the sport," LaTourneau said.


He started PowerPaddle SUP with six boards and a trailer and spread the word. PowerPaddle delivers boards to lakes destinations and rents by the hour on Bay Lake. He said customers have run the gamut from bachlorette parties to weekend renters. The lakes area is now home to a number of options for paddleboard enthusiasts.

LaTourneau and his 6-year-old daughter Allie took to their paddleboards during the recent yoga class. LaTourneau sees a growing option in providing lakes area residents and visitors with an experience to see what the lakes area has to offer. Part of the growing mountain bike wave, LaTourneau began providing a combination event last year taking people out on the mountain bike trails and then paddleboarding in the mine pits-all in one day.

It provides another option to be active and explore what summer in the lakes area has to offer outdoors.

RENEE RICHARDSON, associate editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or . Follow on Twitter at .

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