Stand-up paddleboarding appears to be growing in popularity by leaps and bounds. The increasing popularity of using SUP for yoga is highlighted by the many stand-up paddleboard companies that have begun to manufacture boards specifically for yoga. For the yoga community, this should be great news!
It’s been my experience that most yogis like to connect with nature, and we find solace in exploring the outdoors and tend to travel where we can find more peace. That’s why if you have yet to experience the wonderful act of standing on water and paddling to a quiet spot, where you find yourself moving through various yoga postures to build up a sweat, then you should find your nearest accredited SUP yoga instructor and take a paddle to experience firsthand this magical act of walking on water.
1. Stand-up paddleboarding is beginner-friendly.
First off, if you’ve never been on a stand-up paddleboard, don’t be discouraged. Paddleboards are extremely stable and built for you to balance on them. Your instructor will know how to get you up on the board and show you the proper ways to paddle for momentum, how to stop, and how to turn.
2. You’ll work your CORE, CORE, and MORE CORE.
Expect to engage your CORE! Your abdominals are essential to proper paddling and avoiding any discomfort in your lower back. By engaging the muscular energy in your core, you’ll not only tone your muscles but will find a deeper sense of strength inside you.
3. It’s truly a full-body experience.
You’ll work your legs, your feet, and your arms. Your feet are your central connection to your board, so think about Tadasana's “mountain pose,” where your feet are your roots. You engage your legs for even more stability, so make sure to put a slight bend in the knee and avoid stiffening up the lower half of your body. Be relaxed. The act of paddling comes from the core, but you use your arms to create a moment with every paddle stroke.
4. It’s relaxing.
Savasana, or “corpse pose,” on the paddleboard will be the best savasana of your life! Ending a class in savasana on the stand-up paddleboard is nothing short of amazing. Imagine, for a moment, lying quietly on your back, floating with the movement of the water with fingers dangling in the water and a warm breeze brushing over your body as you listen to the sounds of birds chirping and water lapping the nearest shore.
5. You’ll wash away your fear.
Expect to fall in! Why? Because we have the opportunity to play, with playfulness comes the ability to let go of our fears and try something daring. The great part about falling in the water is refreshing and makes you feel alive.
You truly connect with yourself and nature in moments where you can let go of anything outside of that moment. SUP yoga uses all aspects of traditional yoga on the mat, but by adding the dynamic of being on the water in a natural setting, you see how we’re all connected. So enjoy, feel alive, feel refreshed and get on a board this summer! You won’t be disappointed if you try it!
Melanie Smith Is 500 ERYT- Yoga Alliance Registered Teacher Through the Yoga Loft of Bethlehem in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Welcome and thank you for taking the time to learn about me, Ms. Melanie Smith, aka…Miss Melanie Yoga. Yoga has been a lifelong journey for me, starting in my teenage years as an athlete looking for something to help heal my body from long days of practice. To what has now developed into a practice of intention setting and empowerment inside a body that I feel comfortable in and love.
After spending ten years in social work, in 2015, I turned my focus full time to teaching the practices of Mindfulness Meditation, anatomical-based Asana, and the empowering practice of Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga. My Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a minor degree in Communication Studies from West Virginia University have served me well in teaching and communicating the effectiveness of the mental and physical benefits of yoga.
Many people have turned to yoga to find healing and change their lives. I can honestly say that yoga as a whole has changed the way I live and carve out my life. My yoga has taken me beyond the mat and into the world, finding myself challenging the template of the “American Dream.” I now find myself an entrepreneur and international yogi, leading retreats, teaching yoga classes & workshops on land and stand-up paddleboards. Working with Shanthi Project, a nonprofit community-based organization leading mindfulness meditation to children in Kindergarten through 12th grade as well as children & families who are involved with child protective services, offering yoga to women in prison, homeless women, and pregnant teens.
For me, yoga is not just about the physical poses. It’s about being in nature, and it’s about helping and healing; it’s about bringing together the goodness in us all and letting it shine forth to find our unique gifts in this world. Yoga has taken me to this place, but where will yoga take you?
Brooke Kohler’s absolute favorite place to be is out on the water. Whether she is teaching, coaching, moving through her own practice, or just hanging out and floating with friends, Brooke loves to connect with the water, nature, and the world around her. This is Brooke's sixth season paddling and teaching with MMY. She completed her Stand Up Paddle Yoga Certification with Stoked Yogi SUP Yoga Company under Melanie Smith in 2016. In 2017, Brooke became a PaddleFit certified coach. She loves to share her experiences with paddlers of all ages, teaching adult classes and kids classes on both land and water.
Brooke is a 200 RYT – Yoga Alliance Registered Teacher through the Yoga Loft of Bethlehem in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and holds certifications as a ChildLight Yoga Instructor. In addition to teaching and coaching on the water, Brooke is a counseling psychology doctoral student at Lehigh University.
Kate grew up on the waters of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Having spent her childhood frolicking at her parents’ lake house and her teenage years as a boating and swimming instructor at a local overnight camp, she discovered rather early on that life is better on the water. When she was introduced to yoga at the end of her college career, her understanding of the need for movement only grew. Diving in initially for the physical benefits and stress relief, she quickly realized the depth of her practice. When Brooke Kohler convinced her to take a SUP Yoga class with Melanie back in 2017, she immediately fell in love! The addition of floating to a yoga practice adds something magical: a connection to nature, a new sense of stability, and a full reminder to “go with the flow.”
Kate seeks to help her students find joy in movement while maintaining a mindful approach to instruction, both on water and on land. Kate completed her 300-hour yoga teacher training in 2015 at Easton Yoga, and in 2018 completed her Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga certification with Miss Melanie Yoga and Aerial Yoga certification at Boundless Yoga. She deeply believes that our practice is the perfect place to explore our creativity and observe something new about ourselves: body, mind, and spirit.
Off the board, Kate enjoys going on outdoor adventures with her best canine friend, Blue, and her partner, Andrew. She also teaches music and can occasionally be seen singing with the band Start Making Sense.
Once Todd started to test his endurance with respect to running in 2007, the testing has not stopped. Todd since 2007 has completed various road, but mostly trail races ranging from 5K to 100 Milers. From 10 Hours Trail Run Challenges to 2 Day Running Challenges. In addition to running, Todd took to his love of passing on his endurance knowledge to others, so he became a Certified Level 1 CrossFit Endurance Coach, created specific classes to test and maximize not only physical endurance, but taught the importance and ways to be mentally stronger in conjunction with not only exercise but forming simple and life enhancing daily habits. Todd realized early on that you can move your body to whatever class, exercise, sport that you want, but proper fueling / nutrition is a must. Todd then obtained his Health Coaching Certificate through IIN (Institute for Integrated Nutrition). He loves all outdoor activities that involve nature, especially in the mountains and on the water. In 2021 he sought to enforce his own rules of including weekly balanced and restorative activities and founded the Stand Up Paddle Yoga classes on Lake Nockamixon s and was immediately hooked. Todd is excited to join the MMY Team, and lead and/or assist with the Pedal & Paddle outings, Social Paddles and most definitely Paddle Fit! When Todd is not on the water you can find him riding his mountain bike, or gravel bike and then most likely running on those same trails too!
Rachel loves water and the challenge of learning something new. In 2020, she made her children teach her proper freestyle form and fell in love with swimming. A year later she shocked herself by swimming 2 miles in open water. On a chance stop for ice cream in 2021, she found Melanie’s paddle shop and started joining classes. Rachel loves a slow quiet paddle to help find her center or fun paddle while laughing with friends. Her greatest recent joys have been spending time with her kids and friends on the water.
When Rachel finds something she loves, she wants to share it with as many people as possible. Rachel has been teaching high school science in the Lehigh Valley since 2007 and earned her RYT-200 from Creative Actions Yoga in Bath in 2021. Rachel is a biology graduate student and completing her SUP instructor training with Melanie in 2022. In the future, she looks forward to SUP yoga training, finding more joy, and paddling off into the sunset.
For over two decades, Alice has been immersed in the mental health field with a focus on incorporating restorative and trauma informed practices in her approach toward leadership and community building in her professional environment. She enjoys sharing her passion for the natural world with others and believes fully in the power of play and new experiences to guide us as individuals toward connections and fulfillment on all levels.
She enjoys hiking, biking, bike packing, remote camping and all things outdoors. As a SUP enthusiast and yoga practitioner, she is excited to be a part of the Miss Melanie Yoga team and for the opportunity to contribute to the growth of the regions SUP community.