Wanderlust Oahu 2015 is right around the corner and we are getting really excited to experience a “a weekend of bliss in paradise” with so many amazing teachers and performers. VibeWest caught up with LA’s Sarah Tiefenthaler who will be bringing her branded YOGAqua sup board yoga classes to the Islands. Sarah talked to us about her intro to Yoga, the beginnings and future of YOGAqua, and her love of the sunshine and water!
Tell us a little about your introduction to Yoga and how YOGAqua began?
When I was working in Fashion, I was doing international sales I became passionate about yoga because to de-stress from the long days I would go take a yoga class, and it definitely had a big impact on me and became a love and a passion for me, practicing yoga, just on dry land. So much so that I decided to leave the fashion job and pursue a yoga teacher-training and I went to Costa Rica to do that. And being there for a month in Costa Rica, and places like Hawaii, your outdoors a lot, your on the water, your hiking, your out in nature. And coming back to LA after that was a little depressing, and I wanted to keep that experience in nature on a daily basis and it just so happens that I was invited to try a SUP board class that same weekend I got back, and back then in 2010 that was new to our area so I was really excited to go out and try it. And before I even got to the class I could tell that this was going to be something for me to be able to be outdoors on a regular basis and out on the water. When I got there I started making jokes about doing Yoga on the paddle board because I had just finished a month long teacher-training and it was really fresh on the brain ya know. So I got up there and started playing around with poses and fell in the water but it was a lot of fun, and it was a new challenge. And from that moment on, I never stepped foot in a studio to teach, that just became where I was doing my Yoga and at the same I was doing my second teacher training.
So I started working on poses and sequences and was looking around for tips or some kind of pointers on how to do that. But at the time I couldn’t find anyone doing the same thing I was, Im sure there was someone somewhere but I couldn’t find them, so at that time it was all about experimenting and trying things out and eventually I started to offer a class once a week. Classes just started filling up right from the get go and eventually I didn’t have enough boards to accommodate everyone that wanted to come out since I was renting them myself so seeing that response a good friend of mine encouraged me to start my own thing. That same friend was also a lawyer and entrepreneur and was able to help me get started. And thats how things just happened, the people and support I needed at those particular times just presented themselves. Ive never had anything in my life feel more meant to be, it just seemed like the universe supported it. Yogaqua officially started about 4 months after I started my classes and its just been such an amazing journey ever since, I definitely found my love and my passion, ive definitely put my whole being into every class I teach. I just love being on the water, and teaching, and sharing this with people.
For participants of Wanderlust Oahu, what can we expect from a YOGAqua class out in Hawaii?
They can expect to feel comfortable and safe, to have an amazing workout, but while their doing it they might not even realize it because their going to be having a lot of fun at the same time!
Are YogAQUA classes for all levels?
Yes they are for all levels, I have all different levels of students in all the classes I teach. All the classes are taught with very basic instruction, I don’t just call out poses in Sanscrit or anything like that. Im telling you exactly where each hand is placed, the foot, the toes, your heel, where your eyes are looking. It’s very in full instruction that anyone could follow a long to even if they have never done Yoga before. And then people that are experience and do this on a regular basis, Im going to offer a lot of variations in poses for them to take it to the next level, because I don’t want anyone to ever feel like they have gotten all they can get out it. Im always going to offer new challenges.
Besides the obvious differences of being on a board in the water, what are some other unique differences between YOGAqua and a traditional yoga class?
The postures are definitely customized for the board. There will be slight difference in some of your stances, just to keep you balanced and you will feel that when you go along. There is definetely more strength building as you go through this class. On land, your definitely working the muscles, but on water your working more of them because you have the stabilizer spiraling up as your trying to stay balanced while your holding an already strengthing pose. And your perfecting your alignment in this way as well because like I said if your posture or alignment is off in any way your feel it because the board will shift your going to feel unstable, so your going to make these little adjustments which Im going to guide you through, maybe moving the foot slightly to right or place the hand inside the leg instead of outside and you’ll feel when everything feels right and stable the board stops feeling awkward.
There are a lot of “trends” in the world of Yoga, do you see SupYoga as a lasting practice and why?
I definitely see it as a lasting practice. Since I started doing this it has been growing so fast and I see whats going on with my students, and their not just coming to my class every week, their making it a part of their identity. Students in my classes are being asked to wear peoples clothes and jewelry and it’s because they are making who they are not just what they do. I also have one student who comes out and practices with me regularly after a few months she had a full physical done and she has never had a better bill of health, ever. Her health is better, her stress levels are reduced, so this isn’t something that is just fun to do or a good workout, it’s being medically proven. So something that has that kind of lasting effect isn’t going anywhere.
“I just really want to make YOGAqua and SUP Yoga in general more visible and relevant in the world as far as a wonderful fitness activity.”
I can see that with your Brand Ambassadorships with clothing and equipment, this is kind of a lifestyle beyond just Yoga.
Yes and I have actually had a meeting with one of the biggest Sports equipment and Apparel companies in the world, and they are launching a line of SUP Yoga clothing so they came out and asked me what it is exactly we need that fits this activity. So you’ll see a line of SUP Yoga clothing from this company in about a year. It’s happening and it’s not going anywhere.
At Wanderlust Oahu, besides your SUPYoga classes, your also leading a nature hike. What can we expect for that adventure?
Well about a year ago National Geographic decided to throw me into the wilderness and see what kind of nature enthusiast I really am and see if there were any survival skills there. And there weren’t any survival skills there, yet, but I definitely learned how to survive in nature, how to recognize the tools you have available to you in nature even though you might not recognize them at first. So I am defentley going to incorporate some of what I learned in with the hike so you’ll be getting a workout, you’ll be learning, and we’ll be incorporating some yoga in as well.
Is Oahu going to be your first experience with the Wanderlust Festivals?
This will be my second time with Wanderlust. I was in Canada last summer at Tremblant and it was definitely a wonderful experience and I really wanted to continue to be a part of the Wanderlust family. I had an amazing time and was great to be out there and deliver the first experience of SUPYoga to a lot of people. I have a lot of regulars that come to my classes now and less and less new people, and I really like to give people their first experience, it’s a really great opportunity for me to see the reaction and the smiles and laughter and I think Wanderlust is a really great platform for that.
What do you hope to experience at Wanderlust Oahu for yourself?
I will defenetly try to check out some of the other classes, and I am just really excited to be there and jump in that warm water! If your looking for me thats probably where you’ll find me, whether its teaching or not.
You’ve accomplished a lot in a short period of time with starting YOGAqua and transitioning from your old career, what goals and aspirations do you have for 2015?
I just really want to make YOGAqua and SUP Yoga in general more visible and relevant in the world as far as a wonderful fitness activity. I really want to continue to grow it’s presence here and in other places around the world. There is one additional location in Greece right now, I’ll be there for a couple weeks in May. I want to just explore more possibilities to spread this around and make it more known so more people can come out and try it!