–Guest blogger Amaia Stecker

We’re here in Deep Creek Lake State Park having a blast despite the weather! Friday evening’s paddle was relaxing and a quick “jump” (no, I didn’t fall in, I SWEAR!) in the lake was quite an invigorating experience.  I learned that I do have some core muscles that are now sore from being engaged the whole time.  Balance is a critical skill in yoga and SUP and then you go and combine them; it’s a totally new way to engage your core.

Alicia is a great instructor for paddle boarding and yoga, not to mention a fabulous chef! We had amazing vegetarian meals– black bean and sweet potato fajitas; chickpea sloppy joes; hummus-veggie wraps; pasta salads; green salads; homemade granolas; fruits; and the BEST vegan chocolate chip cookies EVER. I think I ate 7. 

Saturday brought some less than desirable weather, but we braved it for two practices: an early morning yinyasa paddle and then a flow yoga paddle. Being on the paddle board brought so much awareness about my body and how I favor my right side in certain poses! 

A few of us went into town for the local farmers market. Amanda was gracious enough to offer explanations of the differences in definitions of food and how certain vegetables work to give us the nutrients we need. I learned a lot and can’t wait to go to the farmers markets here for fresh produce.

After that, we were lucky enough to have Victor Varana with us; he lead a mini head and hand stand workshop as well as a flow practice before dinner. I loved his meditation and mantra; it was so relaxing and empowering at the same time.  His cueing and alignment observations also gave me some perspective on how to improve my practice and definitely have me thinking about going on his retreat to Tulum.

What a wonderful weekend! I made some new friends from the studio, got to know others better, challenge my practice, went paddle boarding for the first time and managed to hold down dog on a paddle board, and left feeling fulfilled physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually!