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Paddleboard yoga keeps participants in balance

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By Corinne Westeman

Yoga at the recreation center is customary, and yoga outside with a scenic view is ideal. But yoga on a paddleboard on a pond with mountain views is a bit unusual.

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On July 13, six students prepared for bent-knee, or sridaiva, yoga — also known as bowspring — on paddleboards in Buchanan Ponds.

For more than an hour, the group stood, knelt, sat, bent and flexed while balancing carefully atop their paddleboards, lest they found themselves cooling off in the pond. And, understandably, almost all the participants got wet at least once, and some multiple times. But everyone took it all in stride, laughing or smiling as they climbed back onto their boards.

Instructor Caroly Hendee-Nadelhoffer told participants that the theme for the class was “living in harmony with nature,” as the various waterfowl skimmed around them and rainbow trout swam below.

The seven paddleboarders anchored in a cluster near the pond’s western shore. Hendee-Nadelhoffer told the students beforehand that the wind coming off the high ground would make it even harder to balance and counterbalance. As the group went through the various poses and stretches — a few of which incorporated the paddle — Hendee-Nadelhoffer told the participants, “Let the water support you.”

Evergreen resident Angie Mays, a first-time participant in the paddleboard bowspring class, said it demanded “presence of mind,” and that, whenever she found herself getting distracted, she started to wobble on her board.

“It was everything you’d want in a class — the challenge, the camaraderie, the proximity to nature,” Mays said as she pulled her paddleboard ashore afterward. “It was a blast. I’ll probably bring my friend or my son next time.”

Mays said her favorite part of the class was when everyone attempted to do headstands.

“Everyone was nervous about it at first,” she said. “But then one person did it, and that gave everyone else the confidence to try it. I liked that we all supported each other (in our attempts).”

Hendee-Nadelhoffer said she teaches the class Tuesdays at 5:45 p.m. and Wednesdays at 9:15 a.m., weather-permitting. She started teaching the classes last summer, and will continue them through this summer, possibly into September or October, depending on the weather.

“Everyone pushed their edge today,” Hendee-Nadelhoffer said after the class. “They are all fairly experienced and understood the bowspring alignment.

“It’s important that we learn to open ourselves up, because we spend so much of our time in this C-curve,” Hendee-Nadelhoffer continued, demonstrating a hunched posture. “We’re always so closed off. When we learn to be more open, we have more energy.”

Hendee-Nadelhoffer added that she used bowspring as a rehabilitation method after an unrelated swimming accident last year that required surgery.

“I’m 55 years old, and it’s amazing the way (bowstring) helped me to bounce back after my surgery,” she said. “It’s definitely strengthened my whole being.”

Hendee-Nadelhoffer, who has been an instructor for two years, said that bowspring is more deliberate than regular yoga, and that doing it on a paddleboard requires participants to learn how to counterbalance with each movement.

“I grew up on a lake, so it’s very natural for me to be on the water,” she said. “(Water-based exercise) is all physics. It’s an element that can help us learn so much more about our bodies.”

Hendee-Nadelhoffer stressed that the class, which costs $16, is “open to all ages, sizes and abilities.” For more information, visit globalbowspring.com or contact the Buchanan Recreation Center at 720-880-1100.