Hello! Thanks for checking out Mind Body Paddle, my passion and life’s work. I’m Anna Levesque, author and adventure coach dedicated to bringing more power, freedom and adventure into your life.
I’m proud to have created a business that has inspired and empowered thousands of women worldwide to live what is important to them through mind, body and adventure coaching.
I often get asked how I got started in this alternative career… Well, my life changed forever back in 1994 when I
took a summer job in the kitchen of a whitewater rafting company. Through whitewater kayaking I discovered what it felt like to truly be alive and there was no turning back! Instead of going on to law school after college, I chose to re-align my priorities and become a full-time pursuer of adventure and joy (spark).
The journey took me to the Canadian National Freestyle Kayak Team (five-time member), to a podium spot at the Freestyle Kayak World Championships, to paddling and competing in over twelve countries on five continents. I’ve been named one of the Most Inspirational Paddlers Alive by Canoe and Kayak Magazine and voted the Most Inspirational Outdoors Person in the Blue Ridge by Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine.
Even with all of my success on the competitive kayak circuit, I struggled with self-doubt and lack of confidence. I would put a lot of pressure on myself to perform and when I didn’t live up to my own exceptionally high expectations, I would feel like a total failure. The self-doubt didn’t help my confidence paddling difficult Class V whitewater with mostly male colleagues. I loved kayaking and yet I would often come away from those days feeling disempowered. I realized, after connecting with other pro female boaters at the time that I wasn’t the only one. It occurred to me that female paddling stories weren’t being told in the whitewater kayaking world and there were no resources specifically for women so…
I produced the first whitewater kayak instructional DVD for women and called it Girls at Play. I launched a video tour across the US and Canada to offer low-cost, community based kayak classes for women. I still remember feeling vulnerable and terrified at the premiere of Girls at Play only to receive a standing ovation from respected peers.
Yes, I also had critics, and was even called the ‘femi-nazi of kayaking,’ AND it was so worth it to meet, paddle with and hear from hundreds of women who felt empowered by the tour and the video.
Teaching, inspiring and empowering women on whitewater became my passion. I produced several more instructional DVDs for women and lead women specific trips in Canada, the US, Mexico and Costa Rica.
Unlike whitewater kayaking, stand up paddleboarding didn’t start as a passion for me.
To be honest, I was quite cynical about it until one day I had some down time, access to a SUP and a meandering river.
I started paddling around and fell in love with it. The challenge of having to balance combined with the body-alignment awareness and the great workout that it provides can’t be beat. Not to mention the fact that it allowed me to take my yoga practice to the water! I was hooked and started teaching SUP and leading SUP camps for women too!
Speaking of yoga, it is another of my greatest passions that I’ve been practicing for as long as I’ve been whitewater kayaking. I’ve always been drawn to explore something bigger than myself and I actually started meditating in high school, which is kind of weird and unusual, especially for the time.
I started being disciplined with yoga as a whitewater athlete to help calm my self-doubt and enhance my focus during competition. Cultivating the skill to breathe powerfully and focus on the present moment was transformational me. Yoga has taught me how to take that vibrant feeling of being alive that I first experienced kayaking and bring it into all aspects of my life.
I love to learn and I believe that self-knowledge is power so I naturally dove into yoga teacher training.
Combining yoga and paddling has always been a natural fit for me and I’m passionate about helping paddlers take care of their bodies so that they can paddle for decades without pain and while reducing the risk of injury. That’s why I wrote the book Yoga for Paddling published by Falcon and went on book tour at REI stores along the East Coast to teach yoga for paddling classes.
During my 300 hr yoga teacher training I felt a strong pull toward further study in Ayurveda, the sister-science to yoga. At the time my husband and I were trying to start a family and it wasn’t working. I was feeling depressed and stressed and using food to pacify myself. The result was feeling heavy, lethargic and bloated.
Ayurveda is a five thousand year old health system based in the five elements of nature that has transformed my approach to health and wellness.
Since following an Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle tailored to my unique constitution I’ve lost over twenty five pounds, my body has actually changed shape, my energy lasts all day without crashing and my performance on and off the water has increased.
Through paddling, yoga and Ayurveda I’ve learned that true freedom is achieved through discipline. Doing whatever I want whenever I want (like pacifying myself with sweet treats) isn’t freedom. In this case I’m actually a slave to sweets. True freedom is doing whatever is needed in the moment – what do my body and mind really need or want right now?
It may seem like my passion has shifted from paddling, to empowering and inspiring women through paddling to now including yoga and Ayurveda, but I believe the common thread has remained the same. The root is to experience the thrill, joy and magic of being alive. Living fully requires that we take risks and challenge ourselves. One of my favorite things about paddling has always been the way it mirrors life. How we approach paddling is how we approach life. We gain so many life lessons when we pay attention to what our deepest desires are telling us. Are you listening?
Over the last two decades I’ve learned strategies for cultivating power through self-awareness, freedom through discipline and the joy of feeling alive through adventure. I’m committed to sharing what I’ve learned for myself in overcoming self-doubt, cultivating confidence and experiencing a pain-free, strong and vibrant body. I’m all about helping people like you live life to the fullest through paddling, yoga, Ayurveda and performance coaching.
If you’re still reading, thank you! If you see something for yourself in what I’m saying then subscribe to my monthly newsletter. I always include blog posts with helpful tips on confidence, diet, lifestyle, yoga and paddling. I look forward to connecting with you and don’t hesitate to email me with any questions or comments!
If you want to hear more about my approach to coaching, living life to the fullest and how to powerfully move through big challenges click this LINK to listen to my interview with LR from the Unsubscribe podast.