Someone asked me if I had spent much time in Lake Tahoe, and I guess I misunderstood the question. Sure I’ve been to Lake Tahoe! Multiple times, multiple reasons, but I had never actually been IN Lake Tahoe. And I love water, and being on it, and in it. So this trip, instead of focusing on the mountains, casinos and restaurants, the lake would get all of my attention.
Let’s debunk the myth that kept me from diving into the jewel of the Sierra; after all, it’s not that cold. Refreshing, yes. Brisk, initially. However with temperature in the high 50s from May to September, it’s not the icy, melted snow temperature I was expecting. And with the water as clear and blue as can be, you can see straight to the sandy bottom. So with that myth busted, I signed up for a Monday morning paddle yoga group session through Lake Tahoe Yoga with instructor Jenay Aiksnoras.
Dipping my feet in as I walked my 11-foot SUP from South Tahoe Stand Up Paddle into the gentle lick at the boat ramp, I was taken aback how much warmer the water was then I expected. Everything about paddle board yoga was easy— from sign up, to parking, to grabbing the equipment. — five minutes after arriving, I was on all fours pushing away from the misperceptions I held.
Jenay gave step-by-step instructions, literally telling us where to place our left and right feet and how to balance on the board for each movement. Morning is the best time to be out before the boats create waves and the hustle and bustle of summer vacation changes the calm energy. We glided effortlessly over the glass-like water, taking in the remaining snow-covered mountains as Jenay pointed out the landmarks in the distance. Driving into Lake Tahoe, and spending time mostly inside, your breath will be taken away by the size and scale of the lake. Did you know it’s the second deepest lake in the U.S.?
After a few minutes of light paddling, Jenay had us stash our oars down and off to the side, and soon we joined her in a tabletop pose. She expertly guided all of us through each movement over the next 45 minutes, offering modifications based on our individual levels. By modifying traditional poses, Jenay makes sure you stay on your board even if there is a soft landing if you don’t. It’s a different challenge physically because, not only are you tasked with achieving a pose on a moving surface, but the current takes you where the lake wants you to be at that moment.
Beginner, intermediate or expert, paddle yoga affords the flexibility and challenge to move at your own comfort. Though Jenay’s voice carries over the still water, if you float away she’ll reel you back in with the group. Not only do you get a fantastic morning stretch, you’ll also get bearings on other adventures the lake has to offer. If you’re suddenly facing the other direction or get a pose confused, as long as you breathe it doesn’t really matter. “The hardest part of yoga is knowing you’re lefts and rights,” Jenay reminds us as we fall out of symmetry.
Mentally your focus in the moment is greater. Breathing helps, but letting go is more important. Leaving the stresses, expectations, hurdles and obstacles on land, you finish the practice ready to start the day weightless. Perhaps it’s the scenery or the soothing nature of Jenay’s instruction. Or it may simply be the desire to stay topside and dry. Regardless, this yoga studio has the cleanest floor, water at your fingertips and a calming presence from a fabulous instructor.
As we concluded our session in savasana, lying flat on our backs with our heels spread as wide as the board, eyes closed, and our arms, you can’t help but slide your fingers over the edge. One to confirm you weren’t floating on air and actually on water, but also to say hello to a new friend. The lake tickled our fingers back, and invited us in, a reminder of why we are here. After salutations and gratitude, a few of us slid off into the water to wash away the regret of not doing all of this sooner.
Now I can say I’ve spent time in Lake Tahoe.
By: Jaxon Sullivan
Lake Tahoe Yoga
100 McFaul Way, Zephyr Cove, Nv