EVERETT— Carly Hayden believes deeply in the traditional benefits of yoga: strength, flexibility, focus and self-acceptance.
Yet she’s as likely to be teaching yoga somewhere completely untraditional — in a distillery, on a paddleboard floating in Puget Sound — as she is in a classic yoga studio.
Hayden, 33, of Everett, has been teaching yoga for three years. She first tried yoga when she was 15. She taught her first class when she was 17: a final exam for an aerobics class she took in high school.
When she was 22, she formally trained to be a yoga teacher. But then yoga slipped away. She practiced on her own, but her professional life revolved around running a remodeling business with her husband. It was good work, but it wasn’t her dream.
So, after her second daughter was born, she returned to her yoga with full dedication.
She choose to study at 8 Limbs Yoga Centers and is Yoga Alliance certified, the most rigorous training she could find.
She deliberately chose the hard option.
“I wanted to feel that my credentials really helped me to serve my students,” she said.
The 9-month training included yoga practice, of course, as well as meditation and work on personal growth. When she was done, she added on certifications to teach pre-natal and post-natal yoga and stand-up paddleboard yoga. Now she is contracted to teach with 14 companies.
One of those is Bluewater Organic Distilling on the Everett waterfront. On alternating Saturdays, she teaches YogaMosa at the distillery. Students come to the distillery, take a yoga class with Hayden, and then hang around afterward to enjoy a craft cocktail from Bluewater.
“I’ve had some people tell me it’s not real yoga,” Hayden said.
In fact, she feels YogaMosa actually amplifies some of the benefits of a traditional yoga class. Usually when she teaches, her students finish and then drive away, diving straight into their daily lives and stresses.
At YogaMosa, students finish the class. Then, as they enjoy the relaxed and focused feeling that comes with finishing a workout, they linger in that space and spend time with people who are in the same mindset.
“People are usually on the same page,” Hayden said. “It’s a nonthreatening environment. There’s no need to be perfect. They can be themselves, and they’ve already admitted they like a cocktail.”
Melody Todd of Lake Stevens first took the YogaMosa class on a bit of whim. She’d heard about it from a local blogger and decided to give it a try.
“We just had the best time. I was on a high afterward,” Todd said. “The cocktail was added fun, just like a glitter bomb, if you will, after a delightful yoga session.”
That said, while the classes are fun, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re easy.
“Carly makes you work for it. She makes you earn that cocktail,” Todd said.
Like her YogaMosa, yoga on a stand-up paddleboard has unexpected benefits, Hayden says. She was hooked the first time she tried it. She loved that it helped her to really focus on her practice.
“On the paddleboard, you can not space out. You have to stay 100 percent focused the entire time. And you have a physical reinforcement; if you let your mind wander, you wobble.”
Additionally, being on the water is calming. The emotional benefits of being on water meld perfectly with the perks of yoga. And, at the end of each class, students get to relax on their boards, letting the water gently rock away any hints of lingering stress.
During the warmer months, Hayden teaches yoga on Silver Lake and at Edgewater Beach in Mukilteo.
All year she teaches at Forest Park and at the aquatic center in Snohomish.
The class in Puget Sound has a perk for Hayden. To teach, she has to set down anchors so her students don’t float away. At Silver Lake, she uses traditional anchors with a rope between them. But when she teaches on saltwater, she uses crab pots. Before class, she paddles out with two pots, one on the front and back of her board. She drops the pots and strings a line between them.
After class, she hauls up the pots and paddles them back to shore. Sometimes smaller crabs escape and scuttle around her toes as she paddles. She says she usually gets at least one that’s a keeper for dinner.
Yoga and crabbing. It’s a bit untraditional, but like Hayden’s other unusual yoga practices, makes perfect sense.
Why try yoga?
Yoga has many benefits for anyone, Hayden says. Yoga helps people have what Hayden describes as a sustainability of movement. In other words, most people don’t regularly move their bodies in all the ways they can. Instead, they sit at a desk or in a car, repeating the same few patterns of movement again and again. Over time, other ways of moving become difficult and the body resists moving in different ways. That can lead to pain, stiffness and injuries.
Yoga can help break that cycle, meaning a healthier and more agile body. People who practice yoga develop an ease in their own body. She said she has 76-year-olds in her classes who have been practicing yoga for years and easily keep up with the 20-year-olds.
The most important thing though, Hayden says, is that yoga should encourage respecting and accepting your body. The whole goal is to feel good in your body, she said, not to look a certain way.
Yoga is also excellent cross-training for other types of exercise, especially any activity that requires balance. It’s useful for bikers, hikers, runners, cross-fitters and pretty much any athlete.
Try it yourself
Hayden teaches around the county, including YogaMosa and paddleboard yoga. Paddleboard yoga is offered year-round at Forest Park Swim Center and the Snohomish Aquatice Center. She also offers personal classes, workshops and yoga retreats, both local and international. To find out more about her classes, go to her website at www.catalystyoganw.com.