"Yoga on a standup paddleboard is bliss," says Julie Roach, owner and head yogi at H2YO, in Maitland, Florida.
Certified in Hatha yoga, and as an instructor by the World Paddle Association and the American Canoe Association (ACA), Roach has refined her SUP yoga system since 2009 with the goal of developing a safe, stable and fun program for all. —Tom Fucigna Jr.
SUP mag: How did you get into standup paddling?
Roach: I started working in the travel industry in 1985, and became a certified yoga instructor in 1998. I found myself on standup in 2009 and the addiction began. At one of my studio classes, a fellow yoga instructor, Kim Depasquale- who was first to teach yoga on SUP in Orlando- suggested I try yoga on the water. I was immediately hooked! I sold my kayak and never looked back.
SUP mag: Why did you decide to get into the SUP market?
Roach: From the very first moment I stood on a board I felt my entire body engage, and I had to become completely present. That is what yoga is all about. At that first glide, I knew this floating platform would be the most amazing yoga mat ever rolled out. Sharing standup paddling, yoga and Mother Nature with folks around the world became my new goal.
SUP mag: What features of your location make it appealing for SUP?
Roach: Florida is perfect for SUP, with surf, lakes and crystal clear springs to explore, and Central Florida is prime for working at what I love. It's a destination travel spot with attractions galore and sunny warm weather. I teach yoga on a chain of five gorgeous interconnected lakes surrounded by wildlife.
SUP mag: What do your customers enjoy most?
Roach: Yoga and travel! I have SUP yoga retreats planned for the Caribbean, Lake Tahoe and Europe this year. Closer to home, we make day and weekend trips to the springs and coastline. Old Florida history is also quite interesting to discover on a paddleboard. We love to go to Silver Springs and see the monkeys that were left during the filming of the old Tarzan TV program. Fort Desoto in St. Petersburg is also a favorite place. Yoga and fitness are sprinkled in, on the board or beach. Discovery of yourself in nature and getting unplugged is the goal.
SUP mag: Can you describe the experience for first-timers?
Roach: Standup is still such a new sport, and for many people this is their first experience. For whatever reason, people new to yoga and standup paddling are drawn to H2YO. I make it light and fun. It's not a serious or tough class. We do a short paddle with instruction before the down-dogs. The most challenging poses are offered as a playful option, and I tell everyone to "go as far into the pose as you want to get wet," but most people don't fall in. The more experienced yogi's push each other the most. They also love the born again feeling of the first time they came to their mats. Everything old is new again!
SUP mag: What types of boards have been popular?
Roach: I rent Bic, Edge, NSP, Surftech and Suplove boards, and we have a fleet of NightSUP™ boards with LED lights for night tours.
I get requests for two types of boards: "all around" and "light enough to carry." Based on my experience, one board is not going to do everything. If you are going to race, get a race board, and if you are a yogi or recreational paddler, get a wide, stable board. A floaty, low rocker board about 11'2" by 32" works well for yoga. If it's heavy, get some wheels or a friend to help you transport.
I'm also pretty excited about a new project – an H2YO SupYoga board and yoga accessories will be available early next year.
SUP mag: What accessories been popular?
Roach: The IndoYoga board is one of my favorite products to practice on. Sweet Waterwear makes rad SUP-wear that dries quickly and is super comfortable. MTI makes a nice waist pack PFD that doesn't get in the way. I also use an anchor grid, from Bluewater SUP Safari, that keeps everyone in my yoga classes present and accounted for.
SUP mag: Have you organized or participated in any SUP events?
Roach: I was excited to be a presenter of H2YO yoga at Battle of the Paddle for the second time. It's an amazing race to watch, and Gerry Lopez loves yoga! I was also a presenter at the ACA conference this year in South Carolina, which was a blast. We have some wonderful local events I enjoy too, including Sup'n Kids in St. Petersburg and Paddle out Poverty on Florida's east coast. Surf Expo at the Orlando Convention Center has H2YO in the SUP pool, which is a hoot!
SUP mag: Where do you think the SUP market is headed?
Roach: The sky is wide open, but I think the recreation market is prime. With an easy learning curve, as well as lakes, rivers and waterways in every state, we have only scraped the surface of this lifestyle sport.
SUP mag: What would you tell readers that are hesitant to try SUP yoga?
Roach: SUP yoga is a new sport, and there are lots of folks just as new to it as you are. If you are hesitant, take a lesson. Muster up the courage and GO FOR IT!
For more about H2YO, visit: H2YOJulieRoach.com