19 August 2018

Interview: Jez Culley on Paddleboard Yoga

Fellow Country Bumpkin Chic followers will know I’ve blogged about one of my fave passions SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding) a few times. Living near the coast, SUP is a sport/hobby that is growing rapidly, & I was so excited when Jez Culley from Helios Colour Yoga started running paddleboarding & yoga on the Kingston Maurward College lake last year. It’s so therapeutic and surreal to be striking a pose with swans swimming by. 


Paddleboard Yoga on the Lake with Helios Colour Yoga has been making the most of the sunshine on the Kingston Maurward Lake & I was keen to catch up with Jez to get the low down & give an insight into this wonderful sport/hobby.

Hi Jez, welcome to the CBC blog. So, can you explain what is Paddleboard Yoga?
Paddleboard yoga is an amazing combination of practicing traditional yoga, floating on a big inflatable paddleboard while enjoying the natural splendour of the lake & surrounding trees.

If you’ve never done yoga before it’ll be a fantastic new challenge & if your existing yoga routine is getting a little stale or you want to enhance your practice then yoga on a paddleboard will reinvigorate you & push you to become an even better yogi than you thought possible!

Practicing on a paddleboard gives you a unique perspective of both the water & your surroundings. It engages all your senses & the proprioception (tiny muscle movements) to keep you balanced really works every bit of your body. It’s as close as you can get to walking on water, &the possibility of falling in helps you really focus on yourself & your poses – there’s no room for thinking about what you’re making for dinner that night, or what else is on your ‘to-do’ list! It’s a true mindful practice.

The most important thing is to relax & have fun with it. It’s about letting go of the fear. People tell me they get off the water feeling really rejuvenated & relaxed regardless of how stressed they felt when they arrived, often straight from work. The paddleboard also offers much better scenery than the studio; lying in savasana (relaxation) at the end of class with your fingers trailing in the water, gazing up at the clouds & listening to the birds is about as relaxing as it gets, especially with all this glorious weather we’ve been having – what an amazing summer!


How did you get into Paddleboard Yoga?  
I’ve been practising yoga for over 20 years & have enjoyed so many physical & mental benefits from it. I’ve also seen the life changing effect it has had on others around me. I’m a complete outdoors, water lover,keen swimmer, scuba diver & I’m also learning to surf. So, when I had the opportunity to combine yoga & being on the water it seemed like the perfect blend! I have completed two SUP yoga instructor training courses in addition to my 500 hours Yoga Teacher Training.

Yoga means ‘union’, when it’s practiced outdoors it seems like the union with nature, humanity, the universe & yourself is truly felt & absorbed.


What made you choose Kingston Maurward Lake to hold your classes? 
Kingston Maurward is a beautiful & peaceful setting, just right for this type of practice. As it is a private lake we have the whole place to ourselves. The lake itself is surrounded by lovely trees & we enjoy listening to the gentle breeze in the leaves & the birds singing & swifts swooping above us.

There’s no tides, waves or current to worry about, it’s completely flat so people find they can achieve much more than they ever imagined they could – which is what I really like. The boards are also anchored so you won’t float away!

The classes are held every Wednesday at 6pm, & every Thursday at 6pm & 7.15pm. I also hold private lessons for groups celebrating an event like a birthday or hen do, or for a group of friends or work colleagues who need a specific time to suit them.

I’ll be running right through the autumn until it gets too dark or cold to be out there so it’s not too late to come & give it a try. I offer discounts for block bookings too. I’m hoping to secure an indoor venue for the winter months so we can carry on practicing in the warmth of the pool even when it’s dark and cold outside!


What are the health benefits of paddleboard yoga?
In addition to all the usual wonderful benefits of yoga, practicing it on a surface that is moving, like a paddleboard, engages the core muscles & strengthens other muscles which wouldn't otherwise be used so much on the floor.

Paddleboard yoga also requires intense focus because transitioning between poses requires concentration to keep the board steady. The yogi must make small adjustments in their body position & weight distribution to counterbalance the movements of the board. 

A unique benefit of this style of yoga, as compared with traditional practice, is refinement of your technique because slight misalignments result in a dip in the water!

It’s also well-known that novelty is important in exercise regimens in order to stay motivated & happy. Mixing it up also helps to reduce boredom & cuts your risk of injury.

There are many different types of yoga, & it’s easy to fall into a rut. Trying paddleboard yoga will keep you on your toes & you will meet some lovely new people too. The possibility of falling into the water is enough to keep you focused & motivated. If you do fall in, you are forced to overcome the set-back, climb back up on your board, & try again — which is a life lesson in itself.

Between breathing fresh air, soaking up vitamin D & enjoying the natural landscape & having a good stretch, what more could you ask for?


Do you need to have been on a paddleboard or attended a yoga class to take part?
No experience of either paddleboarding or yoga is necessary. In fact the majority of my students have never done either! It is an advantage if you have taken a yoga class or two, purely so you recognise the names of the poses, but as all the postures are fully explained & modified to suit requirements, it’s not required.

The real beauty of my classes is that you don’t even have to come up to standing if you don’t want to. I adapt & modify all the postures so you can do them seated or kneeling if you prefer – with no pressure. It’s why I call it ‘paddleboard yoga’ and not ‘stand up paddleboard yoga’!! Those that want to push themselves more & do full standing poses enjoy the extra challenge as I give careful instructions on how to do it safely and (reasonably!) easily.

And do people need to bring their own board or can they hire one?
Students can use my boards & equipment, or if they have their own they can use that instead. My boards are wide, high quality, & buoyant making the yoga poses as achievable as possible. Racing boards are not suitable for this type of activity. All the boards are anchored so you move with the breeze & water but don’t float away. It’s much easier then people think it will be.

What should you wear?
Swimwear with normal yoga gear over the top – leggings or shorts & a vest or t-shirt. Bring a warm top or waterproof to pop on during relaxation, just in case you get chilly at the end of the day. & bring a bottle of water if you like. You can secure everything under the elastic on the front of the board to keep it safe.

This is me last year having a paddle after class with the swans as the sunsets over the lake - it was glorious.

Do you still go out in the rain?
Yes! It’s such an amazing feeling to be out on the boards in the rain. No one really does that, they only hire the boards on a sunny day so this is a unique experience. If it’s very heavy rain or strong winds then we don’t go out, but light summer rain is very lovely. We put waterproofs on & relax. & it also makes you less concerned about falling in!

Most importantly, how can people book a class?
Contact me via email – helioscolouryoga@gmail.com or text/ call me on 07580169622.

I encourage people to join the Facebook group ‘Paddleboard Yoga on the Lake with Helios Colour Yoga’ for all the latest news and updates on weather, spaces etc. & have a look on Facebook & Instagram  (both Helios Colour Yoga) to see the photos and videos to make you realise it’s a lot easier than it looks & you’ll achieve more than you expected!

And for those who are not sure about going out on the water, but want to attend a yoga class, where can they find out more? 
I teach regular yoga classes in Stoke Abbott Tuesday 7-8.30pm, & in the Dorchester Yoga centre Wednesday 8.15-9.30pm, Thursday 9.15-10.30am and Friday 9-10.15am. More classes to be added in the autumn. I also specialise in private lessons 1:1 or 1:2 for a bespoke experience.

This is helpful for those who want to be taken further into their practice, for those just starting out and wanting to build their confidence, as well as those who have specific health concerns or injuries they wish to work on.

It can combine yoga, breathing techniques, guided meditation & colour therapy as requested to suit the individual. Do check out my Facebook page Helios Colour Yoga  for more details.

I also have a stall at the Bridport Vegan market on Saturday 25th August, so people can come & have a chat & learn more. I’ll also be running a free yoga taster session at the Bridport Vegan Market at 11.30am. Would be lovely to see some of the readers down there.

Thanks Jez for your time & a great insight into Paddleboard Yoga, & take it from me it’s one of the most surreal & tranquil things you can do in Dorset!

Paddleboard Yoga Competition Terms & Conditions:
  1. Prize: Paddleboard Yoga session at Kingston Maurward Lake, Dorchester, Dorset with Jez Culley in 2018. Note: paddleboard will be provided. 
  2. Entrants must like Country Bumpkin Chic Facebook page, like the competition post & tells us what pose you’d strike on a paddleboard.
  3. Only one entry per person.
  4. Closing date for entries is 11:59pm GMT on Monday 27th August 2018.
  5. The winner will be chosen by Jez Culley.
  6. The Winner will be notified via Facebook by Friday 31st August & announced on Facebook Sunday 2nd September.
  7. The winner’s name will be available on request & published on social media accounts.
  8. Transport & accommodation is not provided.
  9. This competition is no way sponsored, endorsed or administrated by or associated with Facebook.
  10. The promoter is Country Bumpkin Chic.


6 comments:

  1. Love the interview with Jez i am one of her students a disabled one with Transverse Myelitis i went to Paddleboard yoga last year i thought i would never do most of the practice but after about 10 practice of yoga i actually stood up WoW this was an amazing goal for both of us! i use crutches to balance on land.it was a split second of my life but its given me such confidence in this 50 yr old disabled body. Jez is a wonderful instructor she knows her craft so well she can take any position and adapt it to suit around your disability this understanding and dedication to helping us all to be beautiful yogis in time.

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    1. This is so lovely to read & agree Jez is fantastic at her craft & very friendly. It must have felt amazing to be on the water with nature. x

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  2. I just wish I lived nearer to this lovely place, and amazing lady, so that I could join in! It looks completely idyllic.

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    1. Come to Dorset & have a go. Jez is great & the lake is so peaceful. I'm very lucky to live here x

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  3. Loved this interview Becky.X

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