The water can be a calming and relaxing place for many. The beautiful bodies of water in south Louisiana help shape this place we call home in PoV country, so it seems only fitting to combine the calming elements of yoga with an environment that enhances the sense of peacefulness.
Having discovered yoga’s ability to increase flexibility, improve respiration, energy and vitality, tone muscles, and create an overall better frame of mind, Fallon Ellender-Chauvin, who grew up on the waters of Pointe-aux-Chenes, knew bringing SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) Yoga to the area, was a no brainer.
“I’ve always grown up on the water. I fell in love with paddleboarding about eight plus years ago, and then I started practicing yoga about that time and it’s changed by life,” The owner of Calypso’s Bayou Paddleboarding Company explains. “I got to a part in my life where I did my training in yoga and I wanted something different. I didn’t want to be in the studio all the time. So, my first thing was to do SUP Yoga.”
After a stint in Florida where she saw how popular the practice was, Fallon knew her bayou roots needed this fun and new spin on yoga. In April, Fallon led her first class of the season at the Nicholls State University Pool, leading a yoga class while participants balance atop boards designed specifically for the practice.
“That was my first passion as far as bringing paddleboarding to south Louisiana. I had moved away to Tampa, and it’s all over down there,” she recalls. “They don’t have that here. They need something around here to keep our younger generation here because if not, they’ve been moving to different states or going to different cities.”
The idea behind SUP Yoga started with Yoga Girl Rachel Brathen, an instructor and author who brought the practice to light. From there, Fallon shaped the practice into an offering that she now conducts both in the pool and as part of an excursion in places like Chauvin and Grand Isle.
“You have mainstream yoga in the studio, but sometimes you get into a rut in your practice, so you need to revive your passion again,” the yoga teacher explains. “From there, I thought this would be perfect. Yoga and the love of water together has created a really cool community here. It’s my passion and I love it.”
And the health benefits are wonderful too as simply being on a paddleboard is a full body workout.
“You have the sense of calming with the nature surrounding and you also have this beautiful power of water itself that influences you in your practice but also reminds you to keep soft and be open to what’s around you. It’s also a great core workout,” she describes of the workout which begins slowly and moves into more dynamic moves throughout each class. “You get out of your head more than in a studio and you just get to be yourself. It opens up a total new practice and you also learn things. In downward facing dog, some people push more on their right side than on their left side, but when you come to the board you’re like ‘woah’ and you’re automatically adjusted.”
Fueled by memories of her family’s camp in Grand Isle, Fallon occasionally adds SUP Excursions to the mix, which offer attendees a chance to immerse themselves in nature while enjoying the benefits of the practice. And through working with the port of commission in Grand Isle, Fallon has discovered the perfect place for these excursions where participants are in 3-4 foot water and surrounded by tons of fish, perfect for future fishing excursions on paddleboards she plans to create.
In just a little over a year, Fallon has created a community of SUP yoga enthusiasts who have supported her and is eager to see more people, regardless of size, age, or fitness level, try their hand at a practice that is providing both enjoyment and improved wellness.
“I always wanted to move from here, but lately I cannot leave this community. It’s something and I want to grow with it, so in the near future we’re going to set up a paddleboard shop and see what’s available here and what people do,” she says. “Just let go of what you know and be open to try something new. I think it’s fun and it invites new things into your practice.”