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Darien, CT, 06820

347-229-8835

Thumbs up stand up paddle board and land yoga classes, trainings and retreats by Danielle Brown. 

Blog

Little Things.

Danielle Brown

Our puppy is one and a half years old and fourteen and a half pounds. His name is Huckleberry but he'll also respond when he feels like it to Huck, Hucky, Hucky Baby and Stop That. 

Corralled in the house, he balances on little legs on the top of the couch frame to croon at the comings and the goings out in the front lawn. Hot breath mists the window panes dare a passing human, woodland creature or an errant crisped, blown leaf pass through Huck's terrain. Alarms are sounded with a puppy bark. The puppy bellows and the chipmunk turns a nut.

Leashed on the street, Hucky walks a crooked line with a nose to the earth smelling perhaps for good things to eat. His eyes crane occasionally from the pavement finds like taunt pulls with a taut leash line. Above all eager to meet all animals and peoples on their way, but lacking tact to approach them casually or in a pause-for-reply way. Shot from excitement, he charges each potential friend for a meeting while aghast, most of the old dogs look down, clearly perturbed at his uncouth greeting. 

Floating on the board, Huckleberry starts at the prow. His nose points out to the horizon, eyes skittering, so much to see. He tries his puppy paw at the sea air as big gulls flap freely and decidedly out of reach. A wake makes Hucky stumble and his fur bottom tremors as he pads his little legs to straighten form.

Exhausted, or overcome, the baby tucks his tail, toddles back to my leg and collapses to a seat. Quiet now and still, puppy fur pressed to my shin - we can hear the tap tap tap of the water against the board's shell. Keeping time of this time, those felt moments in between.

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SUP YOGA TEACHER TRAINING

Danielle Brown

Do you know where it's not normally freezing? Vero Beach, Florida in November. So the warm weather clothes bin will temporarily sleep in the New England basement and will reemerge upon departure time, mid-Fall. This two day training will cover it all, with the purpose to fully prepare the teacher for their own SUP Yoga classes and adventures. There is so much to cover and so much to do, but first, perchance to dream? Reach out if you would like more information on this thumbs up venture with Shelley Adelle and the Yoga Pagoda Concierge

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Bitter End Yacht Club

Danielle Brown

In 2014, I sat down in a conference room at the Bitter End Yacht Club corporate headquarters hopefully holding my calendar and a pen. You see, the thought had been tossed around that we could create a stand up paddle board retreat for vacationers and yogis who wanted to commune in the spirit of adventure, sport and fun. I came to the meeting prepared to sell myself as a teacher and as a retreat leader, although I had only been teaching for two years and I had never led a retreat. However, what I received was a warm inclusion onto the staff, an infectious excitement with the programming and an intro to a resort that sells itself.

Natural Caribbean beauty, a bar none water sports arena and family friendly comforts are hallmarks of the Bitter End Yacht Club. But some of the many nooks, elements, textures and knittings of the setting's splendor I slowly uncovered over the years: like a solo hammock positioned just so, a colorful array of beckoning Adirondack chairs, lanterns swung from palm fronds canopies, a softly weathered deck that cautioned to mellow and slow, sun-warmed sofas to hold court for rich coffee, a conversation over an omelet station as layered as each special spice meticulously added, the afternoon light as the boards dipped for a final swim, the glossy feel of the bar after it was tenderly rubbed. Touches, like these, were carefully done. They were diligently maintained. They were quiet, simple pieces but they were noticed and felt and appreciated.

The spirit of the Bitter End is its makeup of family owned, family operated and a relaxed, family-like feel shared amongst guests. It's that synchronicity, I think, which produced the common reflection from guests that this retreat was "timed perfectly", "exactly what was needed" and even, "was a turning point". Courtesy was left stateside for a more familiar counseling, encouragement or support, whether slightly a-tilt on a ride to Cow's Wreck beach or maneuvering boards back from lunch on the rock or wielding a mask for an underwater excursion or trying the way at getting lost on the sea's sway or dancing in sand, under the brilliantly-lit stars. Five days may seem too short for such declarations but if you consider the multitude of adventures summed, days aren't the right measurement for the experiences had. All thanks to you.

A relief fund has been established to help the BEYC Caribbean employees, their families and the Virgin Gorda community after the devastation by Hurricane Irma. Here is the story and how to help:

On September 6, 2017 Hurricane Irma swept through the Caribbean causing mass destruction throughout the region. Bitter End Yacht Club and the community of Virgin Gorda have been devastated by the storm. Bitter End was founded as a family resort and yacht club in 1973 and is one of the largest employers on Virgin Gorda with over 175 employees. Over the last forty years, the spirited team that works at Bitter End has become an extended family for many all over the world. We are all heartbroken that our employees, their families and the Virgin Gorda community have lost so much in Hurricane Irma. We need your support to help them rebuild their lives and the Virgin Gorda community. Please make a donation today. Every dollar donated will go towards BEYC Caribbean employees and the community of Virgin Gorda. 

The following images caught my eye at the Bitter End Yacht Club that very first year. The memories of the spirit, the foundation of the friendships, the gratitude for the experience and the hope for ease in rebuilding – is what will remain.

Good Afternoon,

Danielle Brown

Welcome to Beach Yoga Summer Session II. That's right, technically it's still Summer and will be so until late September. Today? Well, today it feels more like… late Fall, right? I woke down right COLD this morning with the windows (too) eagerly opened last night. I cranked the handle at 4AM and shivered from the air and from the thought of perhaps what's to come.  

It's a conflicting thing with me – I appreciate the royalty of the landscape as the season shifts from green-blue to a technicolor rainbow. I enjoy the re-set of time and space, the opportunity for fresh notebooks and I even like to reconnect with my stove with the hum of football things coming through the background television. But on the opposite side of the coin, I wholeheartedly love everything about the freedom of Summer and with two kids, I can get bogged down (more like manic) with the whole – shopping, sorting, scheduling, shifting, sifting, searching, stuffing  - that can come with the "Back To School" trench.

Beach Yoga is intended as a respite from the everyday stuff, like the calendar of to-dos, must-dos and should-dos.  It's a kind, designated time to reflect, connect and realign with the present moment fully, the one that operates with all that stuff, like the wiz of the bus and the wheel of worry, AND holds space for a noticed warm cup of coffee with a creamy swirl of milk.  The asana, or poses, are wondrous in their potential to stretch and strengthen the body and in their potential to bring the mind home.

Peace, freedom, self-discovery and personal expression are the hallmarks of beach yoga and I can't think of a better setting to set that sail, out in the elements.

I wanted to give you all my contact information. Please feel free to drop me a line if you want to chat about yoga (or your favorite fall recipes).

2018 SUP & Yoga Retreat: February 6th -11th

Danielle Brown

With much excitement and anticipation of another spectacular adventure, here are the details of the fourth annual SUP & Yoga Retreat to the Bitter End Yacht Club in Virgin Gorda. 

The resounding feedback from past retreat go'ers is the complement of fitness and fun, scheduled and unscheduled, kindness of the water sports staff and array of water activities to dive, jump, paddle or float into.

Real Slow

Danielle Brown

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It's the first day of Summer. The longest day of the year. Good thing too. Because there is a lot to do. I tasked my kids to make a list.

"What do you want to do this summer?" 

Blank faced, they drifted, crunching Os in their own time. Rounding back. Easy does it. No thoughts have been strained.

Still unanswered. I began again. (And again, by no means provoked.)

"Perhaps learning a new dive and sleeping outside?" 

The inflection on that last word as hollow as their whole grains.

Admittedly, we've been "under the weather". New England has not graced us with its per-usual, post Memorial Day summer-like-feel and the forecast has been sick with rain.

Plans foiled, but perhaps the lesson is - not to toil? Best to take it as it comes.

Slow chews of sustenance - like wheat and time on the feet. The word "solstice", I read, comes from the Latin words sol sistere, which means "sun standing still."

When Gigi was little, we asked her what vanilla ice cream tastes like. She returned with a smile, hardly awhile, and did not hesitate with, "nothing."

Summertime moments, when the clock melts and the sun is felt, feels about right with "yes, I'll have - nothing" (to do).

GM

Danielle Brown

Some mornings, before the coffee and while the dog pees, there time for a simple: one, two, three type stretch.

This one is for the shoulders and for those early, early mornings when one, two, three is as far as the mind is revving to go. Take it slow.

Good Morning, Sunshine.

ThumbSUP Yoga Teacher Training Immersion

Danielle Brown

In addition to a family vacation to play in the waves, I taught a ThumbSUP Yoga Teacher Training immersion with The Yoga Pagoda as part of their 108 Hour Advanced Practices and Master Classes offering in Vero Beach, Florida earlier this month.

The students of the training were 200hr+ Yoga Teachers or wellness professionals and active practitioners. They had a range of paddle board experience, a range of curiosity in SUP Yoga and were interested, potentially interested or not interested in teaching SUP Yoga.

The 1/2 day Thumbsup Yoga Teacher Training Immersion program allows Yoga Teachers and Students to dive into the study of Yoga on a Paddle board without the certification requirements of CPR, First Aid and water rescue accreditation.

Immersion discussions include:

  • Equipment, Paddle Technique and Environmental Awareness
  • Sequencing options - their plentitude, the crescendo of balance play and the overarching emphasis on transitions
  • the anatomical positioning and biomechanical activity of on-board postures and movement
  • the theory of themes like aparigraha (non-possessiveness) (as it relates to succumbing to the element of water, for instance)
  • the application of the lower chakra awareness (as the platform for discovery is physically turning in the wind and rocking with the swells)

The goal of the immersion is to provide an overview of Stand Up paddle board Yoga (from how to hold a paddle to how to use the board as a belt in a forward fold) and to equip the trainee with the on land and on board fundamentals of how to conduct a safe, efficient and effective SUP Yoga class with the assistance of a SUP Professional. As a reminder, the Academy of Surfing Instructors (ASI) recommends a student : teacher ratio of 6 : 1 which furthers the calling for support.

At the Vero Beach SUP Yoga TT immersion, I was grateful to have two helpers on the water scene: Chris, owner of Paddles by the Sea (and provider of the equipment used that day) and my friend and advisor and local SUP tour leader, Kat Kruse.

The winds were just a singular palm frond short of being prohibitive to play on board that day. Chris, Kat and I each had a role. Even though the floating yoga studio was a few paddle strokes from shore, the roles of onboarding, assisting with equipment, photography and guiding the sequence and the float back the shore were all deployed.

Between the gusts, the trainees challenged asana preconceptions, relaxed into the wake and rose with receptivity to the tide. It was a thumbs up day.

If you are interested in adding a SUP Yoga Teacher Training Immersion to your 200hr, 300Hr, 500hr Yoga Teacher Training or Masters Classes Yoga programming, please contact me.  

Between the Lines

Danielle Brown

I read somewhere about a notion of the 24 hour day split into three eight hour blocks. IN essence: eight hours to work., Eight hours to sleep and eight hours to - well, fill freely.

It's that last block, that I've been considering.

I need to sleep eight hours (although it's frequently more like seven). I need to report to the office for eight hours (although it's frequently more like nine). The time in between is varied and frequently, entirely unaccounted for.

Time slips by between work and sleep with - what?

shuffle, sift, sort, sweep, 

Extend, Mend, Bend, Fend

t i r e,    r e t i r e,

Repeat.

In an effort to move towards reclaiming that in between 8 hours (or more like one), a consistent scheduling of yoga on Wednesdays has moved from docket to done.

The winter core yoga series ends tonight and the spring series begins mid-April. Below is a gift of thanks, and beyond these lines, to those friends who've been right there besides or who can relate, on the whole - really, how does time transpire?

At the core of it, it's a sequence - one, two, three, four but hey, off the paper, add dimension, and account - and it can be - so. much. more.

Why retreat to the Bitter End?

Danielle Brown

While Summer is about diving in the present moment, like the touch of a cool dip or the taste of a first sip, I find myself considering plans in September. Back to school for the kiddos seems to drive a want for a cracked, fresh notebook for me. It's a time to reflect on the good times of the summer days and plan for something equally rewarding in its quest and fruitful in its application. 

It's really not that surprising that the first joy to a vacation arrives when the vacation begins to get planned for. So whether you have thoughts of trying something new or feel the calling to make plans for a warm weather break, here are five reasons why you should put a retreat to the Bitter End to the top of that list:

1. Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) will challenge you. There will be an option for two to three classes a day which will leave you sore for oh, um... two to three days. In the best way. (Insert fist pump emoji). SUP is a total body workout. You might become acquainted to muscles you didn't even know about. At the end of six days, you'll likely feel strong - both in your physicality and in your commitment. Who knows what that will lead to once you are back on the mainland?

2.   Yoga is a practice in the art of balance - the balance of adequate engagement and sweet release into great receptivity. But this will be best reveled when you are floating under a rainbow (happens every year) with your fingers dipped into the warm, welcoming sea. There will be SUP Yoga and Land Yoga and an opportunity for one-on-ones. Care to dive deep? That's encouraged. In fact, I'll hand you a mask. 

3. Speaking of masks...There is snorkeling and cruising and all sorts of other watery cavorting. In fact if you are looking to check the box on the whole spectrum of adventuring, you are cordially invited to fill every waking moment with activities. For example: 700AM Sunrise Hike, 800AM SUP Yoga, 930AM Breakfast, 1030AM Snokel Excursion (perhaps a trip to The Baths), 1200 boat to explore islands and lunch, 300PM Hammock swing, pages to read and beach swims, 400PM SUP Yoga, 530PM Power Paddle for cocktails and apps, 700PM Shower and Change, 730PM Dinner at the Club or Under the Stars or at that place on the sand, with the swings at the bar (for real).

4. Tropical fruits and local fish and fresh everything are great for performance, but they are also really, really delicious. The bounty provided will challenge you to choose. But I find folks usually come back to their same seat each morn. It sort of becomes like a groove to watch the day awake with the water seated besides, chair tilted back and sunglasses preferably on.  

5. And when the day eventually comes to a close, rest assured that the next day has the potential to be better still, than all the rest.  

Five Night SUP & Yoga Retreat to the Bitter End Yacht Club: Oct. 2016 and Feb. 2017 #supbeyc

Photos by: iShootbvi

Stay Salty

Danielle Brown

I was going to go for a run before teaching these Saturday morning classes. I was going to clean the garage and make my own pickles and donate more clothes and ride my bike this summer with my feet off the peddles and I haven't.......Yet.

I have been on this platform each and every Saturday morning.

Not because I need inspiration for more things to pack into a summer weekend, but because i am inspired to remember that this is THIS summer weekend.

And It's been packed with new reflections and epic weather and wonderful students and fresh classes and that is something to be noted, never mind the pickles. . 

The Second session of yoga at the beach begins at the end of this month. Registration is open and available here:  

Beach Yoga - Weed Beach, Darien, CT - Session II Aug. 27th - Oct. 1st

Come in, exhale, leave better

Danielle Brown

That's the motto for Exhale Spa in Stamford, CT - Come in, exhale and leave better. Located next to the harbor, this luxury fitness studio will be offering Stand up Paddle board classes again this summer. I think it's part of what makes our area so neat - the influx of water options and the vibrant community, jazzed and ready to Launch.

Summer time is relished for its preciousness. Fitness on a paddle board can be a marker of just how far you want to get "out of the box" and celebrate the warm life by the sea. 

For the second year in a row, I'll be teaching SUP Yoga in conjunction with Exhale and SoundWaters in Harbor Point.

Sign up, Play, And make Note - summer can be magical. 

Photo by: Robert Sturman ~ Artist / Photografia

Photo by: Robert Sturman ~ Artist / Photografia

Jam on

Danielle Brown

Are you in for a summer night of community celebration? A July sunset to the beat of music by the water that incorporates shopping, art and movement? Well then, put your hands up! Facebook and other promotions are teeing this up to be another awesome Jam Sesh. I just got my ticket and I hope to see you there.  

Join Lululemon Athletica Greenwich, Exhale Spa Stamford, Megan Kuczynski and Aimee Elsner on the Harbor Point Boardwalk in Stamford. Friday Night Jam on July 22nd at 6PM. Photo by: Lululemon Athletica Greenwich

Join Lululemon Athletica GreenwichExhale Spa Stamford, Megan Kuczynski and Aimee Elsner on the Harbor Point Boardwalk in Stamford.

Friday Night Jam on July 22nd at 6PM.

Photo by: Lululemon Athletica Greenwich

Wanderlust 2016 - Snowshoe, West Virginia

Danielle Brown

you know how sometimes the anticipation pales in comparison to the actual event? This time was like that.

I cautiously asked three college girlfriends if they would travel with me to the Wanderlust Festival in Snowshoe, West Virginia. Not only did they leave their families for a long weekend, take their businesses mobile and say yes to the Fest Request, but they were also wonderful roommates and the best fest partners that I could have asked for.  They were supportive and funny and ambitious and adventurous and fun. 

We breezed through a 9 hour road trip each way into the high peaks of West Virginia. Even when the cell service abated, the chatter never seemed without pause. Only on the way home, housed with sea legs from three days on the boards and sore muscles from long holds, did we call "mercy" and tune into a few podcasts until it's talk, prompted our talk - even more. 

Thank you to Boga Yoga and the Wanderlust Festival for having me teach six wonderful classes again this year on a SUP board. Thank you to all the students that took a ThumbSUP Yoga class and provided such joy by bearing witness to your immense accomplishments and good nature. And thank you to Kendra, Tucky and Giada.

What can I say? I'm so looking forward to next year! 

More pictures to be added shortly. 

Psst. Hey you.

Danielle Brown

It's been a rough few months. Lying tight on the side wall. Pretty cold. Not as cold as last winter, so I guess I shouldn't complain. But I'm as stiff as a board and come to think of it, really, really bored.

I'm watching the paint dry in those old cans, with the dust and the rust. Not much color on any given day. A perpetual gray with the floors of dirt and the film of loss held under a pretense of storage but let's face it, long since forgot.

Bikes in hibernation, no bouncing kid to their seat. A stray ball or seven, the yellow fuzz worn to the hue of the sun without heat. Slack fishing lines never pulled taut except in a misstep to retrieve the last beer from sometime last year.

Musty blankets to sheet the innumerable paint jobs planned. Tools a'plenty, like sentimental golf shoes, saved for that one day. There is nothing to do, but remember the waves.

I've got my old friend, Paddle, by my side. Not much of a companion but he'll make do until we ride. 

And you give me an occasional glance as you pass on through. The ruckus of that cranked chain for the door marks the coming and going.  And the coming and going. And the coming and the going

until one fine day

there is a pause.

Hey! Are the trees full of leaves? Is the water warm enough for toes? So, are we ready now? Put me in coach, I'm so ready to go. 

 

2017 SUP & Yoga Retreat

Danielle Brown

It's 24 degrees in Connecticut. They say April is the cruelest month. And I get it. So I am warm weather dreaming today and really excited that the dates have been set for the 2017 SUP & Yoga Retreat to the Bitter End Yacht Club in Virgin Gorda, BVI. All details will be coming soon but for now, warm thoughts of island adventures ahead and sunshine days on boardS and by the sand. #supbeyc

Wanderlust Snowshoe

Danielle Brown

I'm happy to be going back to teach SUP yoga at the Wanderlust Festival this June in Snowshoe, West Virginia - where the commute to the boards includes a chairlift ride and the sun tucks in over the mountains. Lake Shavers presents a mist on the early hour and reaps the sunshine in the afternoon.

Classes for SUP Yoga and so much more are available for pre-registration now at: www.wanderlust.com/festivals/snowshoe/schedule.

The draw to the water is compelling.

Young, Old, every experience on a paddle board is new. The nature abound guides a course. It can be more than fulfilling to touch into that power..  balance, even momentarily, between personal agenda and nature's unveiling and perhaps suddenly you'll do something as remarkable as - Stand up on water.

The attached video, with Fellow teachers Ashlee Fehsenfeld and Sarah Tiefenthaler, expresses some of the other musings from A board And that wild West Virginia early morning Lake.