Cool, focused - instructor teaches yoga atop paddleboards

2013-07-30T02:15:00Z 2013-07-30T07:46:21Z Cool, focused - instructor teaches yoga atop paddleboardsBy Betsy Cohen of the Missoulian Montana Standard
July 30, 2013 2:15 am  • 

MISSOULA — Taking their practice to a whole new level, a handful of adventuring yoga students glided into the cool waters of the Clark Fork River on stand-up paddleboards last week.

Once the class got their sea legs near the Boone and Crockett Club, where the river becomes a calm pool, they gathered in a small pod and dropped anchor.

Laughing at the strangeness of the venue, the students boldly attempted a few downward dogs, a few warrior poses, and a few headstands, before the unique stand-up paddle board yoga class — also known as SUP yoga — officially began.

“The first few wobbles was problematic,” said Aimee McQuilkin, “but then you forget you are on a paddleboard and it feels solid.”

Although new to Missoula, SUP yoga has been offered in many water towns across the world for a few years, said Jennifer Hoover, owner of Hot House Yoga, a downtown Missoula yoga studio.

“I wanted to offer it because it is a nice way to bring yoga outside during the summer and to have some fun,” she said. “I think, too, it brings a lot of presence to the practice, which is what we are focused on in yoga.”

When moving through the vinyasa-based poses on a floating platform, balance is challenged, but often people find doing yoga on the paddleboards is a freeing experience because falling means a soft landing and a welcome dip in the water on a hot day, she said.

“It really is helpful for people who struggle with some things because there is a sense of lift and buoyancy,” Hoover said. “There are some moves that actually feel easier and lighter to do on a paddle board, and some moves become more accessible when you are practicing on the water.”

Jenny Van Swearingen was eager to try the new class because it combined two of her favorite things.

“I love water and I love yoga, and this great opportunity just presented itself,” said the Missoula nurse. “It’s a really cool idea.”

Confident and strong on stable ground, Jeff Wilson said he wanted to challenge his yoga.

“I like yoga and I like playing in the water, but I have never been on a paddleboard,” said Wilson, a paralegal. “This should be interesting.”

As he got accustomed to the side-to-side rocking motion of the board, Wilson found some moves were easier than others, and occasionally, he landed with a ker-plonk in the river.

Each time someone inevitably fell in, laughter and giggles ensued, infusing the class with joy.

Dripping wet and climbing back aboard after slipping in a pose, Van Swearingen smiled.

As she refocused her mind and body to pick up where she left off, Van Swearingen cheerfully informed the class that falling was indeed fun, and the temperature of the water perfect.

“It’s divine,” she said of the unusual outdoor experience. “Just divine.”

Copyright 2016 Montana Standard. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

No Comments Posted.

Civil Dialogue

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name-calling, crude language and personal abuse are not welcome. Moderators will monitor comments with an eye toward maintaining a high level of civility in this forum. Our comment policy explains the rules of the road for registered commenters. If you receive an error after submitting a comment, please contact us at

If your comment was removed or isn't appearing online, perhaps:

  1. You called someone an idiot, a racist, a dope, a moron, etc. Please, no name-calling or profanity (or veiled profanity -- #$%^&*).
  2. You rambled, failed to stay on topic or exhibited troll-like behavior intended to hijack the discussion at hand.
  3. YOU SHOUTED YOUR COMMENT IN ALL CAPS. This is hard to read and annoys readers.
  4. You have issues with a business. Have a bad meal? Feel you were overcharged at the store? New car is a lemon? Contact the business directly with your customer service concerns.
  5. You included an e-mail address or phone number, pretended to be someone you aren't or offered a comment that makes no sense.
  6. You accused someone of a crime or assigned guilt or punishment to someone suspected of a crime.
  7. Your comment is in really poor taste.

NOTE: Our comment policy has recently changed. Real names will now display next to comments you post. If you are a current user, you can update your profile to include your real name by logging into the site here.

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick