teacher interviews





Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga: Interview with Cheryl Golich
By Nikki Carter

“Her classes are frequently described as challenging with a deep nurturing element,” says Cheryl Golich’s bio. I’ve had the pleasure of being a student of hers many times, and I can tell you that this is 100% true. Cheryl has an energy that is calming and restorative in and of itself, and her vinyasa classes are very challenging, yet accessible. She’s studied with many well-known teachers, including Michael Fukumura and Baron Baptiste, and has recently started offering regular SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) yoga classes out on the bayou. Read on for a closer look at this practice.

Local yoga teacher Cheryl Golich is offering SUP Yoga classes on Bayou St John

NC:  How did you get started with SUP Yoga, and what drew you to it?

CG:  I first tried stand up paddleboarding two and a half years ago in Mammoth Lakes, California. I was hooked immediately – it was an amazingly simple way to walk on water. My whole family tried it and was able to stand up on the board with ease; we all loved it.

When I returned to New Orleans from that vacation, I was introduced to Jeff Lakey of NOLA Paddleboards. I did a group paddle with him and started going out on the Wednesday night paddles on Lake Pontchartrain and on his monthly “board meetings” around the New Orleans area.

Yoga just seems to naturally complement being on a paddleboard. The surface of the board feels like a yoga mat.  After a long paddle, it feels great to do some back bends to stretch the core and open the shoulders. Balancing strength and flexibility is an important part of a yoga practice and this is exactly what happens in SUP Yoga.

I love being outside, I love being on the water, and I love exploring how my body moves. SUP Yoga combines all of these activities together.  It’s super playful and fun – exactly how I approach my yoga practice! Being on the board feels like dancing on water.

NC:  Where are classes held in New Orleans?

CG:  Jeff and I offer the classes on Bayou St. John.

NC:  What do you think is unique about having these classes here in New Orleans?

CG:  The bayou is a beautiful body of water. We often see fish, turtles, and lots of ducks, herons, and egrets. Lately, I have seen an abundance of pelicans feeding in the mornings on the Bayou.  This is incredibly special!

NC:  What would you tell a beginner who might be nervous about trying SUP Yoga?

CG:  Lots of people who come to the SUP Yoga classes have never been on a paddleboard. The first thing to note is that it’s much easier than surfing.  I’ve tried surfing and it’s REALLY difficult. The paddleboards are actually very stable. Learning to trust the board and how it’s going to respond when you shift your weight is important. Staying calm, relaxed, and focused also helps – remember to breathe and have fun! The worst that could happen to you is that you fall; if you fall, just get right back on the board and try again. Bayou St. John is very calm and shallow water, so it’s a great, safe place to learn.

NC:  What can a SUP Yoga practice offer that a land practice might not?

CG:  All yoga requires a strong sense of balance, but adding the board on the water into the mix further increases awareness. I encourage students to move mindfully and build poses from the base up. On land, it’s easy to come in to poses without really thinking about your foundation. Yoga on a paddleboard encourages an awareness of your feet, and that moves up into the stability of your legs while you maintain a sense of softness in the knees. Once this rootedness is felt, you can expand into the upper body with a greater sense of expansion and freedom of expression.

SUP Yoga also requires a strong sense of core. Overcoming our own fears is super empowering, and I see this every time I teach a class. Everyone is nervous the first time – but it gets easier and more fun every time you step on the board – just like the yoga mat. It is a practice, and we all just keep coming back for more and learning something new every time.

NC:  When can we join you to try SUP Yoga?

CG:  We have 2 classes coming up:  Sunday, December 8th at 10:15 AM (the Saints game has been pushed back to a night game, so no conflict with us beating Carolina) and Saturday, December 14th at 10:15 AM. Classes are 1.25 hours with lots of time to play, do yoga, paddle, and have the most relaxing savasana floating down the bayou. Jeff also has a “board meeting” on Cane Bayou on the North Shore on December 7th. These paddles are a great way to get more comfortable on the boards while experiencing the unique scenery of our bayous.

YL Exclusive:  Mention that you read this interview on Yoga Lagniappe and receive the “Bring a Friend” discount – sign up as a pair for either the December 8th or 14th SUP Yoga class and you will be eligible for the discounted rate of $40 for both (usual rate = $30/each). Call Jeff Lakey at NOLA Paddleboards to reserve your boards (504) 717-8847.

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louanne cho headshot

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