Finding Bliss: In a Canoe and on a Yoga Mat

Paddling a canoe and practicing yoga are two feel-good activities that lift our spirits and connect us to our true nature. While the lakes are frozen and our paddles are traded in for skis, we’re given the perfect opportunity to dig into the wonderful world of yoga. With an abundance of benefits and wildly similar characteristics to that of paddling a canoe, yoga offers a sanctuary for the mind, body and spirit.

The meditative state that comes to life when you find your paddling rhythm on a peaceful waterway is the same presence you tune into when linking your breath with movement through sun salutations in a yoga class. Both are practices that connect you with your truest self, in a place of lightness and joy. Canoes and yoga mats create space and time to pull away from daily distractions or stresses, and encourage you to learn about yourself. Along with the many physical benefits that yoga offers (think open shoulders, a stronger core and soft hip flexors – mmm), the practice also teaches you to breathe more fully, to become more aware of your body and (the juiciest of all!) to find peace of mind.  

TO YOKE !

The word Yoga means “to yoke”, referring to the unity of breath, body and mind, which is the intention of a yoga practice. When we create this union, we become absolutely present – our most natural state. Paddlers around the world will also be familiar with the word “yoke” – the trusty wooden beam that allows us to portage our canoe, balancing the weight on our shoulders and linking us from water to land and back to water again. Maybe we should have called the series “Yoke-A” ;)

FLOAT + FLOW YOGA at the Canadian Canoe Museum

Float & Flow seemed like the ideal name for this yoga series as it plays with words that are relevant in both paddling and yoga alike! Not only do we float and flow as we cruise swiftly along the water in a canoe, but we move similarly through a yoga sequence, riding the rhythm of our breath.

When we say FLOAT, we refer to the lightness in spirit that comes from being immersed in the present moment, whether it’s found while breathing into a juicy yoga posture or while finding your groove with the J-stroke, surrounded by the sounds of Mother Nature.

FLOW describes the grace and fluidity achieved when paddling your favourite boat in a perfect rhythm or moving through a sequence of yoga postures while mindfully connecting your breath to each movement.

FIND YOUR BLISS

My intention with this series is to share the abundance of good vibes that come from a mindful yoga practice (particularly while surrounded by a stunning collection of canoes, and to the sound of a waterfall!). These classes will be gentle, relaxing and accessible to all levels. Through this practice I hope to inspire my students to find a greater experience of health, happiness and wholeness; three feelings that I connect to most easily while flowing through postures on my yoga mat or while paddling my rugged orange canoe.

Melissa Nagy is a Registered Yoga Teacher and the museum’s Retail and Visitor Services Manager. Join her for an hour of bliss every Wednesday evening from 5:30 – 6:30pm January 13th – February 17th. Float & Flow is a by-donation yoga series held at The Canadian Canoe Museum with all proceeds going to the museum. Follow Float & Flow Yoga on Facebook to stay in the loop!