Consciously breathing in and exhaling while being in control of your breath and your movements is not only an extreme work out, but a great way to align your body and mind. Rhiannon Ritchey and her business partner Matt Dent are bringing that essential experience outside and on the water.
A marine biologist and yoga enthusiast for the past ten years, Ritchey recently moved to Arizona and started teaching stand-up paddle board yoga in April with her first classes out on Lake Pleasant.
Dent works at the boat rental company at Tempe Beach Park and Lake Pleasant where Rhiannon’s Latitude 33 Yoga hosts its classes.
“It’s a fun activity for yogis to come out and do different things. It requires a little more balance, a little more coordination but it’s also for all levels. We have just about every one of all body types—young and old,” Ritchey says.
Teaching yoga in the Tempe Town Lake Marina is a bit different from her former job working with sharks in an aquarium at St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, but Ritchey says she is trying to bring Arizona something new.
“There are so many people around here and so much concrete and so many indoor activities. To get outside, even in the summer time when everyone is super hot, it’s an opportunity to get out in nature and connect with it and yourself,” she says. “You find that peace in that class time. It’s really empowering.”
It might seem intimidating to try and balance on a board in the water, but the boards used are 10 to 12 feet long and 3 feet wide. The boards are also anchored for the class.
Ritchey says people often start the class nervous and might not even know how to stand on the board, but that at the end they are both lighthearted and empowered by what they were able to accomplish.
Classes in Tempe are one hour long while in Lake Pleasant, classes are two hours. Ritchey says it’s just like any other yoga class in that you build strength and flexibility, but you get to enjoy your surroundings and find that element of mind and body. Advanced yogis also benefit from SUP yoga when they do harder poses.
“The class is very fun and we keep it light to help people focus on their breathing. It’s an excellent core exercise,” she says. “If you are already a yogi and you practice a lot, it refines your technique. Sometimes you’ll be on the board and you’ll notice you lean on one side more because the board is tipping. It refines alignment and keeps people really focused and motivated.”
Students get plenty of time to paddle around, try new poses for themselves and even swim if they want. Ritchey says the water at Lake Pleasant is clear and 85 degrees at the moment.
“We also do Shavasana at the end of class so people get to lay and get the warmth on their body and cool water on their finger tips,” she says.
For more information about classes check out at rhiannonsyoga.com