Paddle Yoga Colorado offers a unique and challenging workout | VailDaily.com

Paddle Yoga Colorado offers a unique and challenging workout

Neko Catanzaro
Special to the Daily

Paddle Yoga Colorado offers yoga classes in different locations throughout the valley, as well as private instruction, guided tours, and river yoga classes.

EAGLE COUNTY — Yoga classes can at times feel stifling and sometimes even competitive. No one wants to look like a slacker in the studio mirror. But, paddleboard yoga drives away any of these negative emotions in a beautiful, natural space.

Because of its uncontrolled water environment, the playing field is leveled. No one knows how the wind will be blowing or how the current will be moving. First-timers may feel intimidated, but everyone is unsteady at one point or another, even the most experienced students.

"Classes are about keeping an open mind and having a sense of humor," said Julie Circo, owner and instructor at Paddle Yoga Colorado. A yoga teacher since 2011, Circo started paddleboarding a year later. While on the river, she found herself moving through yoga poses as a way to stay engaged during flat water interludes.

The challenge was not only fun, but it was intriguing, motivating Circo to become stand-up paddleboard yoga certified. Since then, she has not spent much time on land. "The added dimension of the water, the sun, all the elements amplifies the yoga experience," Circo said.

Paddle Yoga Colorado offers yoga classes in different locations throughout the valley, as well as private instruction, guided tours and river yoga classes at Camp Out for the Cause and Women's Wellness Weekend. Paddleboards are also available to rent for $45 per day, one of the best rates in the area.

All classes are kept to a 10-person maximum.

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"It ensures an intimate experience," Circo said. "I enjoy giving my students one-on-one attention and I have the responsibility of keeping everyone safe."

Though there is always a chance of falling in, wobbling is mandatory. At different points, students are encouraged to get their boards rocking, creating waves and engaging their legs and abs. Getting a bit wet is also a prerequisite. From plank pose, core work consists of stretching one leg out and dipping it into the water at different angles.

For yoga gurus, the blended practice has multiple benefits.

"It takes you back to the beginners mind. It's a playful and fun approach where you don't need to take yourself so seriously," Circo said.

Paddle yoga also helps fine tune alignment. How you perform a pose on land will be different out on the water. From one position to the next, each motion requires micro movements. Even downward dog, a pose that most yogis move through without thought, requires an entirely different approach on water.

Just as yogis will gain a new appreciation of the forms, so too will paddlers of their boards. Circo finds it's not only a way to stay fit and flexible, but it also keeps you psychologically focused during other paddle sports.

"Learning and practicing breath work can help with stroke technique and keeping calm in heavy rapids and tricky situations," Circo said.

Though Circo relishes the challenge of rapids and appreciates the ability to practice out on the river, her favorite spot in town is Eagle-Vail. Located near the pavilion, the Eagle-Vail Pond provides a quiet and secluded place to practice. The small body of water even has an inviting little beach where students can stretch out and enjoy the rejuvenating post-class effects with a side of sunshine.

"It's an intimate setting with the beauty of the forest as the backdrop. It's where it all began for me and has become a very special place," Circo said.

Therese Liscio, of Edwards, has made Paddle Yoga Colorado classes a weekly addition to her workout regimen,

"Julie's personality is so calming. She is very thoughtful of student abilities and makes everyone feel very comfortable," Liscio said.

Liscio also finds the beautiful mountain setting incredible and relaxing, much more than a yoga studio.

"You get to take it all in as you're practicing," she said.

For more information, visit paddleyoga colorado.com or call 970-393-3328.

If you go …

What: Paddle Yoga Colorado offers classes, privates, guided tours, and rentals.

Where: Eagle Vail Pond, Nottingham Lake, Four Seasons Hotel Pool, Westin Riverfront Pool, Colorado River, and other venues.

Price: $30 classes, $45 day rentals (packages available)

Best Pick: Take a class at Eagle Vail Pond, then rent a board for the day and practice paddle techniques and poses from class.

Upcoming Events: Women’s Wellness Weekend classes on Piney Lake, August 22-23.

More Information: To book classes, rentals or tours visit paddleyogacolorado.com, or phone 970-393-3328. You can also follow Julie Circo on Instagram @paddle_yoga_colorado.