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!)

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 –
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
  6. The Winner will be notified via
    Facebook by Friday 31st August & announced on Facebook Sunday 2nd
  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



  1. Sam Peacefullday
    August 20, 2018 / 9:04 am

    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 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.

    • Unknown
      August 21, 2018 / 8:11 pm

      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

  2. Unknown
    August 20, 2018 / 4:37 pm

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

    • Unknown
      August 21, 2018 / 8:12 pm

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

  3. Haylii
    August 25, 2018 / 9:47 am

    Loved this interview Becky.X

    • Country Bumpkin Chic
      August 25, 2018 / 1:34 pm

      Aww thanks lovely lady xx

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