Yoga for Paddling: Simple Seated Twist

The obliques are key muscles in the movement of torso rotation and tend to be chronically contracted in paddlers. Twists help to stretch the obliques, give our internal organs a good massage, stimulate digestion, and calm the nervous system. One of my favorite twists for paddlers is the simple seated twist. This is a gentle twist that invites the obliques to lengthen, keeps your spine supple, gives a gentle massage to the internal organs, and stimulates your digestive fire. Photo credit Scott Martin Take a comfortable cross-legged seat on your mat. Sit up on a few blankets if it helps 

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Yoga for Paddling: Table Top Pose

Core strength is an important element of effective paddling technique. A strong core assists us in sitting up tall and helps to protect our low backs from risk of injury. According to yoga, we are not striving for a “six pack.” In fact, yoga advocates for a soft, supple belly that allows room for our organs to function optimally and for our breath to be full and easeful. The optimal expression of a pose, according to yoga texts, includes both steadiness and ease. Core strength contributes to being able to hold a challenging pose with steadiness while also breathing with 

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How to Build Emotional Resilience on the Water

According to the dictionary, resilience is defined as, ‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.’ A second definition is: ‘the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape.’ When you experience a difficult, disappointing or scary situation on the water how quickly do you recover? Are you able to let it roll off your back and feel empowered to paddle on? No matter your answer, know that you can increase your resilience with practice. In the past, when I performed poorly in a competition or got trashed on a river and swam out of my kayak I 

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Why You Should Take an International Paddling Trip

A really smart woman once told me I didn’t need a drysuit when I could just boat where it’s warm enough not to wear one. Inspired by this approach to winter boating, I booked my first international kayaking trip to Mexico and have been traveling ever since. Although it’s not quite drysuit season yet and the warm weather has me wondering if I’m ever going to need my drysuit again, fall is always a time when I start dreaming about my next big adventure, preferably to a more tropical location. You don’t have to be an expert boater to enjoy 

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The River, my Old Friend

Mind Body Paddle recently re-posted the very first blog post I wrote at Anna’s request—the story of how I became a kayak instructor, written before I actually started instructing.  Written before I ever knew that I would end up working for Girls at Play/Mind Body Paddle. I was in high school, writing about this dream I had of guiding people down the river. I was signed up to teach kayaking on the Wolf River in Wisconsin that upcoming summer, despite my status as a novice boater. I had no idea what I was doing. I just knew that I was 

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The Risk of Playing it Safe

When I struggle with a line it’s usually because I’m trying to play it too safe. In this photo it’s obvious that I’m struggling with my angle. That’s because I used too much right angle attempting to avoid the hole and rock at the bottom. Had I relaxed and kept my boat angle a little more downstream I would not be struggling physically and mentally. I witness this in myself and also in my kayak students. In our attempt to avoid an obstacle or intimidating feature we end up in a more dangerous place. We also often end up in 

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The Shoshin of Kayak Instruction: The Beginner’s Mind

“In the Beginner’s Mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.” – Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki In Zen Buddhism, the Beginner’s Mind is the idea of having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would. I had the opportunity to experience this for myself this summer teaching beginner whitewater kayak clinics with Jill Wrenn at Mind, Body, Paddle. While I was there to teach brand new boaters how to whitewater kayak, I realize that I learned just 

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Tips for Staying Healthy during Fall Season

Fall and spring are the times of year when most people experience colds, flus and sickness. According to Ayurveda that is because of variable weather. One day it’s hot, the next it’s cool and rainy. The morning could be warm and then the wind picks up in the afternoon and we’re not prepared. In the Ayurvedic tradition, fall season is the season of Vata (Air). The qualities of Vata include mobile (think wind), rough, cold and dry. To maintain the balance of health in the body during this season we want to invite the opposite qualities of static, soft, warm 

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Ladies Taking Over Southeast Rivers!

It’s been another summer of great Ladies Southeast Paddling Series and Green River Takeover events! Both the Series and the Takeover are community building events that also raise money for the Shannon Christy Memorial Fund. This year, part of the money raised will be donated from the fund to Our Voice’s initiative to combat human trafficking in WNC. The other part will go to American Canoe Association‘s fund set up to support elite US female slalom athletes. I runs the LSPS on 5 different rivers (Tuckaseegee, Nantahala, Pigeon, Ocoee and Lower Gauley) offering an opportunity for women of all skill 

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Tips on Packing for a SUP Day Trip

The Black River is the epitome of serene. It’s out in the middle of nowhere.  You drive and drive to a random bridge that signals your take out. There are no people around, and what houses you do see are older and in need of repair. There’s an alligator who lives nearby and he watches you take out! Cypress knees poke up through the dark water, birds are everywhere, and the obligatory alligators hiding where you can’t see them but they can surely see you. The river trail is winding, sheltered, and quiet. No other humans for miles and miles. 

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Meet Anna Levesque

Anna Levesque is the leading expert on kayak instruction for women and yoga and wellness for paddling, including SUP Yoga. Named one of the most inspirational paddlers alive by Canoe and Kayak Magazine, Anna’s twenty-plus years of experience as an accomplished international competitor and instructor has landed her in mainstream publications such as TIME, SHAPE and SELF magazine.

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