Yoga instructor Elizabeth Gowan is taking traditional yoga in a new direction by offering classes on standup paddleboards.
“It strengthens the core,” she said.
With rentals from Cinnamon Bay Campground’s watersports concession, she and her students paddle out to Maho Bay. She said they anchor and do seated poses, but if the student has enough proficiency, stand up poses are a possibility.
“I like to do inversions,” she said, referring to poses that have participants upside down.
Whether it’s on a standup paddleboard or on a yoga mat, she said she figured out how to break down the inversion moves into segments to make it easy for nearly everyone to do.
She said she expects to soon have her own stable of paddleboards for her students’ use.
The standup paddleboard yoga and building her children’s yoga program are the latest in the development of her yoga practice. She’s no stranger to youth yoga because she ran a similar program called Radiant Child that had students from Julius E. Sprauve School studying at St. John School of the Arts. She’ll again offer a similar program at the School of the Arts come fall. She also ran a yoga program at Gifft Hill School.
“It’s a way to introduce yoga to children,” she said.
Gowan, 36, also works at Caneel Bay Resort’s Motion Studio. She worked at the Motion Studio’s predecessor, the Self Center, from 2006 until it closed in 2011. She also works with vacation villa guests, does group classes at the Mongoose Junction Yoga Center, and has private clients.
She got into yoga by happenstance. After working on boats in the Florida Keys, she moved to St. Thomas because friends had settled there. She was working at Water’s Edge Sports when she met yoga instructor Rainbeau Mars. Mars taught her the basics, and Gowan was hooked.
She returned to her native Minneapolis in 2007 to study at Core Power Yoga, studying again in 2008 and 2013 at the Kripalu Institute in Stockbridge, Mass.
“I started out in power yoga,” she said, noting that it’s called Vinyasa Flow.
As her skills progressed, she added Hatha-based Flow to her repertoire. When she began working with children, she added Kundalini Flow techniques. She said she’s also influenced by Sivananada yoga practices.
“Now I blend it all together. It’s a potpourri of my favorite practices,” she said.
And she also offers Thai yoga bodywork, a type of yoga that she said stretches the body.
“It’s a really awesome way to relax the body,” she said.
Gowan said she tries to do yoga every day because it makes a difference, but with a life-partner and two children, she sometimes misses a day.
“Yoga gives me energy and focus. If I’m having a bad day, yoga makes me feel better,” she said.
She and Andrew Hollen, a fisherman who owns Island Style Charters, are the parents of Pierce, 8, and Chaysen, 3. She said the two children keep her very busy.
“But I like surfing and hiking,” she said.
Gowan can be reached at 1-340-779-6837 or 1-340-244-1810. Her email address is Beth4health@gmail.com .