How to Paddle Class IV with Fewer Strokes

I recently posted a video of me running my favorite rapid, Boxcar, on the North Fork of the French Broad here in Western North Carolina. The rapid consists of a short slide leading into a 15 ft drop that you boof into a beautiful little gorge. Here it is for you! Both my Creek Week students and folks online expressed surprise at how few strokes I took to run the rapid smoothly. Taking fewer strokes is one big difference between beginner/intermediate skills and intermediate/advanced skills, especially stepping it up to Class IV creeking. As you progress you learn that creating 

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Top 3 Reasons to try SUP Yoga

I’ve been around paddlers and yogis for over 20 years and I’ve heard ‘hardcore’ paddlers make fun of SUP yoga and yogis treat it as a novelty fad. I always say: ‘Don’t dis it until you’ve tried it!’ BTW, why is it so easy for humans to dis stuff we haven’t tried? The health, body and wellness benefits of SUP yoga are many and below I share my top 3 reasons to try SUP yoga:   More Core, Fewer Imbalances SUP Yoga is an effective way to bring greater awareness to imbalances in the body and learn how to effectively 

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3 Easy Spring Cleanses that Work

The truth about cleanses is that they don’t have to be long, arduous or expensive to work.  And, yes, they do work. Some don’t even require that you go without food! Benefits of cleanses include clearer skin, more energy, reduced bloating/digestive distress, weight loss and enhanced sense of taste. I’ve had folks (including my Mom) tell me that they’re skeptical of cleanses because the body has the ability to cleanse itself. The body does do a pretty good job of cleansing itself IF/WHEN we eat a simple diet, eat only when we’re hungry and only to 75% full, and lead 

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Love and Discipline: The Art of Self Care

Everyone loves talking about love in February. Love is great and all, but my favorite part of Valentine’s Day is the ‘pink food’ I have an excuse to indulge in. Pink frosted cookies, pink cake and pink champagne are some of my faves. After all, love is associated with sweet taste, a taste, according to Ayurveda, that grounds us and offers comfort. That’s part of the reason sweets are so popular. In our busy, over-stimulated lives where our nervous systems are often stretched to the max, sweets offer us a taste of love and a sense of contentment. It’s way 

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Yoga for Paddling: Basic Low Lunge

(Excerpted from Yoga for Paddling with Anna Levesque) Yoga for paddling emphasizes the importance of strengthening the muscles we underuse in paddling and stretching the muscles that we overuse. Our hips, low back, and legs experience a double whammy in our culture due to the time we spend sitting – at our desks, in our cars, watching TV, and so on. All that sitting can lead to chronically contracted hip flexors and hamstrings. Kayakers and canoeists also then sit in their boats. SUP paddlers are a little better off, but their lower bodies are still susceptible to imbalances. One yoga 

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Yoga for Paddling: Three-Count Belly Breathing

(Excerpted from Yoga for Paddling with Anna Levesque) Breathwork (Pranayama) is one of the eight limbs of yoga. According to yoga, the breath is our life force (prana) and can be manipulated to warm us up, cool us down, stimulate digestion, energize us or induce relaxation. Another benefit of breath control is to bring you to present moment awareness on your yoga practice, and to manage the effects of stress. Stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In her 2013 TED talk, health psychologist Kelly McGonigal explains how stress cannot simply be labeled as bad. She uses scientific evidence to show 

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Yoga for Paddling: Side Angle Stretch

(Excerpted from Yoga for Paddling with Anna Levesque) The muscles of the side body are mainly responsible for lateral flexion of the spine and hiking the hip. Kayakers and canoeists activate these muscles for hip snaps, performing the roll, edge control, and stability. SUP paddlers also use these muscles for balance and stability on the board, and when carrying the board by the handle. Stretching and strengthening the side body for full range of motion helps paddlers achieve better balance and control when paddling. Side angle stretch is a great pose for stretching the top side body and it is 

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Yoga for Paddling: Legs up the Wall

(Excerpted from Yoga for Paddling with Anna Levesque) Relaxation and stress management are important in maintaining our health, happiness and performance in life. This is especially important in our culture where the focus is almost exclusively on expending energy. Keep moving, keep busy, and keep striving. We fuel our bodies on the move and and sacrifice sleep in the name of ambition. There’s nothing wrong with being up to great things in life. It’s important to share our unique gifts with the world, and that requires action and energy. Having said that, it is unrealistic to think that our bodies 

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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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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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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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Testimonials

"When I went to see Anna I felt thoroughly depleted. By following Anna's suggestions, things really turned around! After several weeks of consistent use of her recommended Ayurvedic herbs, oils, and a few key dietary and exercise changes, I feel completely different. I have significantly improved sleep, mood, and overall vitality. I'm much happier!" - Libby Hinsley, Physical Therapist and Yoga Therapist at YogaRx.

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