This week we head to the beautiful Florida Keys and talk with Sue Cooper and Tara McCabe of Lazy Dog Adventures. Sue quit her successful executive job in 1997 and the following year opened Lazy Dog on Stock Island, just across the bridge from Key West.
On a visit with my college girlfriends to Key West in 2013, we decided try paddle boarding at Lazy Dog after seeing a billboard advertisement. We had the best time, even in the crazy wind! I was hooked and received my OWN board that summer for my birthday!
I wanted to find out more about SUP yoga offered at Lazy Dog, here's Sue and Tara...
Tell me a bit about Lazy Dog, how long have you been open? Are you originally from the Florida Keys?
Sue: I quit my job in 1997 and decided instead of working for a living, I wanted to live the life I wanted – to live on an island, open my own business, and have a dog. I moved to Key West, started running a kayak company, and rescued a border collie, Molly.
Lazy Dog owner Sue Cooper and Jax
When did you begin SUP yoga classes? And what led to your decision to add this program to your company?
Tara: The SUP Yoga program began in 2012. Sue and I were on a leisurely paddle and talking about headstands and other playful things to do on the board. We decided I should take some friends out for a trial class. It worked great!
SUP Yoga Instructor Tara McCabe
How does the class work?
The class is 90 minutes to 2 hours long depending on the day and participants. Class begins with basic SUP skills, a lesson for SUP technique, and a water safety briefing. The class then paddles together to a specific spot. The paddle out takes anywhere form 10 minutes to 30 minutes. This is depending on weather, current, class size, skill level, etc. Once we have arrived, we set anchors, generally we are in a few feet of water nestled next to the mangroves.
Is there a special certification or training for SUP yoga instructors?
Tara: I lead 3-day SUP Yoga / WPA water safety certifications. There are 2 levels of training. The first level is for yoga instructors who would like to begin teaching SUP Yoga and SUP lessons. The second level is for those who have completed the Level 1 training and would like to train their staff/teachers. The training is outlined in detail at www.lazydogpaddleyoga.com. I also lead WPA trainings without the Yoga for those paddlers that only want the SUP skills and water safety training. This is a 6-hour training course.
Are your SUP yoga participants regulars or vacationers (or both!)? Can newbies to yoga participate?
The SUP yoga class is an all levels session which is about one hour. Modifications are given as the class hosts a variety of skill levels from beginner to advanced. There is always something for everyone!
What are the benefits of SUP yoga? What in your opinion sets it apart from traditional yoga?
SUP yoga brings in the elements of nature! Salt, sea, sun, birds, marine life! The environment allows the practice to be more meditative as nature can be mesmerizing. The element of being afloat brings the practitioner to a deeper level of concentration, as to not fall in! Hah! But falling in has its perks. The water is warm, shallow, and clear. A Keys baptism! Muscle engagement is necessary, too! So, the practice is slower and stronger on board SUP.
What is your advice to someone considering trying SUP yoga?
The sport of SUP is available to everyone! Board sizes vary for ability and size of the paddler. Good instruction can make all the difference, so finding someone with proper knowledge will make learning more fun and the sport more accessible. The World Paddle Association has trained instructors listed on their site. For those paddlers ready to buy their own equipment, begin with the right paddle! Jimmy Terrel of Quickblade Paddles is a great online resource.
What is your perfect 24 hours in Key West for a first-time visitor?
Start your morning with smoothies at Mayanjali Café, then SUP Yoga at Lazy Dog. Eat brunch at Brunch at Blue Heaven (with the roosters – CYO tip!) and head over to visit Hemingway house and the Butterfly museum near the Southernmost Point. Take an afternoon swim at Ft Zachery. Catch a sunset sail before heading to dinner at Kojin. End the day with live local music!
What are your favorite places outside of the Keys for yoga?
Tara: I’ve traveled to Bali, Thailand, Greece, and Morocco for Yoga!
Share with us Lazy Dog's Key West Favorites?Hotel: Wicker Guest House
Restaurant: Little Pearl
Coffee: Mayanjali Cafe
Music: Ross Brown and Cayo Ritmo
Activity: Sea plane to the Dry Tortugas
Drink: Moscow Mule at Mary Ellen’s (they make their own ginger beer)
Key Lime Pie: Blue Heaven (traditional) or Kermit’s Key Lime pie dipped in chocolate frozen on a stick. YUM!!!
Thank you Sue and Tara! We hope this encourages readers to try SUP yoga when the opportunity presents itself. For more information on SUP yoga or certifications, contact Sue and Tara at Lazy Dog (305) 295-9898 or find more information at www.lazydog.com.