I’ve always been a teacher of various kinds over the years. I taught sustainable design at a university level and (I’ve been teaching) yoga for 10 years. I love being a guide because I love inspiring others to connect to themselves and nature. So being a guide came naturally to me when I arrived on Maui.
Have you always practiced yoga?
I did my yoga training in Toronto over 10 years ago with a studio that’s no longer around and over the years I’ve studied with different teachers internationally, like Rod Stryker (who) is one of my favourites. I’ve done lots of retreats and workshops (around the world).
How did you make the transition to becoming an SUP yoga guide?
Through my friend Peg, who needed some help with her stand-up paddleboard business on Maui. I was volunteering and got to love being on the ocean. Being very entrepreneurial, soon I was adding yoga and meditation to the SUP sessions and they were a huge hit. Then a light bulb went off and I started adding land excursions — eco-meditation hikes for families and couples — which incorporated my love of sustainability and local plants and farming.
My specialty is connecting people to nature through yoga, meditation and ceremony, both on and off the water. On land, (this is through) beach yoga, forest hikes and visits to sustainable farms. I also do full moon hikes, which are amazing. Basically I create custom experiences for visitors to Maui that are completely unique and one of a kind. For those who are more open-minded I can add shamanic and Hawaiian teachings of the people and land for a deeper cultural experience. I’m also a musician so I love adding drumming and ukulele to my trips.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I wake up early before sunrise, whether I have a trip or not. I’m an early bird and love to greet the day with others or by myself. I head into nature for a hike, walk, beach yoga or SUP. If I’m doing a land trip it depends on the location and time of day we’re heading out — I like early starts but I am flexible.
Do you have a certain style of guiding, or do you just run with it on the day?
My style is unique — it’s very Zen, calm, relaxed. It’s all about connecting to nature and inspiring people to be present and connect to the moment. I also am very much about super healthy snacks, so often that is woven into the trip if requested. I did a superfood picnic for a family as part of their hike and they were over the moon about the new yummy snacks they learned about. My trips are also great for beginners or people new to hiking, the ocean (or the) outdoors, as I am very mindful and aware.
What’s the best part of your job?
I get to do what I love, which is being in nature and sharing my passion for the earth, its ocean, plants and trees — as well as sharing my years of experience as a wellness expert.
It was (a trip) for a woman who was supposed to get married that day, but the groom jumped ship last minute so the wedding day was cancelled. Instead she did a trip with us and brought her mom and we did a ceremony on the ocean to honour her loss and a new start for her. It was a very emotional trip for her and I felt honoured to be there that day to hold space for her to heal.
Every job has its ups and downs. Are there any aspects of your job that you aren’t keen on?
Getting up at 4:30 or 5 a.m. can sometimes cut into your social or private life, so that’s the only downfall. Also making sure you’re not getting too much sun or injured is key. I need to stay in optimum health so I can inspire and guide my clients to do the same.
As an experienced guide yourself, can you explain what the benefits of hiring a guide are?
Many people — even if they’ve hiked or done stand-up paddleboard — will not know the local weather and wind patterns and these can change on a dime. I see a lot of people just rent boards and go out and they’ve never been on a board … and I think that it’s really important to emphasize that the local weather and wind patterns can change abruptly — even for experienced guides that’s a challenge. As well, your guide will give you great insider tips for local food spots and music (that) only a local can give, so the investment is well worth the experience and wealth of information.
And finally, have you got any tips for people who are interested in booking a guide like yourself, but aren’t too sure what to look for?
I would say it’s important to trust your instincts and pick a guide who seems to provide the “experience” you wish to have. … And the more the guide knows, the more we can make it a really safe, comfortable, positive experience.