Stand-up paddleboarding is a challenge, requiring a bit of strength and a lot of determination.
But doing yoga on a paddleboard isn’t as hard.
At least that’s what Krista Patterson, owner of Richland-based Northwest Paddleboarding, thinks.
Since Northwest Paddleboarding began offering classes earlier this month, Patterson has seen students fall off their boards and into the water in introductory and strength paddleboarding classes, but not in yoga paddleboard.
“It’s a really easy class. It’s designed so specifically to keep you on your board,” she said.
The class is actually very peaceful, allowing students the chance to focus on their poses and the “real meaning of yoga,” she said.
“This just makes you fully concentrate,” Patterson said of the paddleboard. “In a yoga class, your mind is off somewhere else. ... In paddleboard yoga, you have nothing else to focus on but staying on your board.”
Stand-up paddleboarding is the fastest growing watersport in the country, with organizations offering classes and selling gear wherever there are large bodies of water, according to Patterson.
Yoga paddleboarding, meanwhile, is a relatively new sport with a smaller — but growing — number of practitioners.
Erica Lucas of West Richland brought her own board to Northwest Paddleboarding’s Wednesday class. The Boga Yoga board, which first went on the market six years ago, is designed specifically for yoga on the water, with a yoga pad built in to help hold a pose.
For Lucas, whose family has always spent their free time on the water, purchasing the board was a natural extension of her collection of watersport equipment.
While Patterson waited to find the perfect idea to build a business around, she pursued her interests in health and fitness, working as a personal trainer and teaching yoga.
“I’ve always known I was going to be a business owner; I just didn’t know of what,” Patterson said.
“I got really bored of being inside four walls and doing the same thing every day,” she added.
When Patterson and her mother, Cathie Hobson of Burbank, were given the opportunity to travel to take a yoga paddleboarding class, they jumped at the chance.
After a short time on the water, they realized it was an activity they loved, and wanted to bring back to the Tri-Cities.
“As soon as we did it, we were hooked,“ Hobson said.
The duo completed training for stand-up paddleboarding instruction in San Diego in October. Eight months later, Northwest Paddleboarding was operational.
The paddleboarding season begins in June and typically runs to the end of September. However, if the warm weather persists, the season can continue into October.
“I remember we came back last year and were still able to go out in October,“ Hobson said. “I think this might be the same. A long, hot summer.”
Northwest Paddleboarding offers classes in three Richland locations: Columbia Point Marina, Two Rivers Park and Howard Amon Park.
“We wanted to offer different locations because when I first started paddleboarding, I wanted to explore,” Patterson said. “You’re in a new place, because once you’re in water, you’re like ‘Oh, this is cool, and I can go explore the new waterways.’ ”
The three locations also provide different challenges, Patterson said. Columbia Point and Two Rivers are more protected from the movements of the river, while Howard Amon is right on the water and is affected by the wake.
“When we went to find the places, we really couldn’t decide and wanted to offer them all,” Patterson said.
At least one other local business offers paddleboard yoga. Greenies in Richland notifies followers of their Facebook page as registration becomes available for their classes. A full moon yoga paddleboard event is in the works, according to staff.
In addition to their classes out on the water, Northwest Paddleboarding offers a free yoga class at 8 a.m. every Saturday in Howard Amon Park.
The first two classes have had more than 50 participants, Patterson said.
Patterson is hopeful Northwest Paddleboarding will continue to expand, offering more classes and locations on the Columbia River.
She is also considering ways to keep the company going in the off-season, whether by offering classes in an indoor pool or teaching yoga in a studio.
“We don’t know yet,” Patterson said. “But we have a lot of ideas.”
For more information or a full schedule of classes, go to www.northwestpaddleboarding.com.