Best Local SUP Instructors: Taylor Chaput
Taylor Chaput pulls into Diver's Cove in Laguna Beach, Calif. with a SUP board strapped to the roof of her car, greeting me, a complete stranger, with a hug and a smile. Fitting, seeing as she is the founder of Bliss Paddle Yoga.
"Bliss is that moment on the water when you're perfectly in the present moment. Your senses are heightened and you're taking it in and it's just … joy," she says.
Chaput, 26, grew up in La Verne, Calif. and spent her younger years focused on soccer, softball and volleyball. College brought with it a four-year degree in accounting. But during an internship, Chaput quickly discovered that counting beans and a typical nine-to-five job wasn't for her. A weekend SUP experience with her mom sparked a new found love and connection to the water.
"I would just be at my cube, dreaming about the water, and when that four or five month internship was over I decided that I (was) going to invest everything into this."
With her sights set on starting a business, her parents gave her a few SUP boards for graduation and that was all it took. Bliss Paddle Yoga was born.
A rookie to paddling and to yoga, Taylor came into the business eager to expand her realm of knowledge. She broadened her palette by gathering tips from fellow paddlers, videos (at SUPthemag.com), SUP clinics and simply by logging miles on the water. "Some things resonate with you and other things don't," she says.
Chaput considers her teaching style very laid-back. "For us, it's not about going out and standing up or having the perfect paddle technique. It's about going out on the water, letting go of your fears, and trying to be in the moment as much as you can."
Chaput finds particular joy in the moments where her students fall in love with the sport. "The most rewarding thing for me is seeing someone so scared on the beach, not sure they want to go out, and then going out on the water and seeing their huge smiles. That's the coolest thing. It's that, 'Oh-my-God, I-love-this' moment."
Bliss has expanded significantly since its opening in 2010. With locations in Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and San Diego, Bliss offers paddle lessons, SUP yoga and teacher trainings. The trainings are three-day immersion courses with a focus on water safety, helping yoga instructors bring their practices to the water. They've trained instructors all across the world, helping SUP yoga to migrate to locations such as Japan and Bali. "That's what I like about the training," Chaput says, "It's a way for us to build our network in a cool, authentic way."
Nahid Margolies has been taking paddleboard yoga lessons with Chaput for the past two years. "At the end of class you feel a calmness dipping your fingers in the ocean as Taylor takes you through a peaceful final relaxation. The paddle back to shore is usually quiet as everyone is blissed-out and just basking in the beauty of the ocean."
Chaput is already planning for the future. "I'm hoping that we continue to expand Bliss across the world and continue to share that bliss of being on the water because everyone needs to experience it; it's something special." –Rebecca Parsons
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This article originally ran in our 2014 Beginner’s Guide as “Local Knowledge.”