Dannika Ross will teach SUP yoga classes at Maine YogaFest
“My favorite part of Maine YogaFest is the atmosphere—you can wear anything you want, eat anything you want and everyone is there for the same reason,” says Dannika Ross, a yoga instructor from New Hampshire who will be teaching paddleboard yoga classes at this year’s festival.
“The first year I ever attended Maine YogaFest, I didn’t engage in any workshops or classes, as I didn’t have the financial means to purchase tickets,” says Ross. But this year, she was offered “an amazing opportunity” to work with SUP YO!,” a Boston-based company that offers SUP yoga, yoga hikes and adventure retreats around New England – including SUP yoga classes at Maine YogaFest, which Ross will be teaching.
The paddleboard makes a fine yoga mat and the additional balanced required on a paddleboard intensifies the yoga routine. Ross says the peacefulness and tranquility of floating on Casco Bay just off East End Beach will require increased focus and concentration while enjoying a meditative practice that’s truly immersed in nature.
“Instead of walking around with no agenda [like her first Maine YogaFest experience], I now have an intention to connect with more eager practitioners and offer insight into all the opportunities yoga presents.”
Ross, 25, of Hampton, New Hampshire, first took yoga classes in a church basement. She continued practicing at the University of New Hampshire while earning her bachelor’s degree in recreation management and policy. “Upon graduation, I felt I needed to explore yoga beyond the poses,” she says. “So I enrolled in a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training.”
Since completing her training through the YogaLife Institute, based in Exeter, New Hampshire, Ross has taught gentle, vinyasa, chair, restorative, meditation and corporate yoga classes in multiple studios and facilities throughout New Hampshire’s seacoast region. She has obtained additional certifications in chair yoga, stand up paddleboard (SUP) Yoga and Reiki I.
When Ross first enrolled in yoga teacher training, it was more to seek knowledge than the goal of teaching. She says, “I was not having much luck finding a job in the corporate world and I really missed education and schooling.”
After completing training, she itched to be on the mat and share what she learned. Through her integration in the seacoast area yoga community, Ross met Jana Olenio, the founder of SUP YO! “This opportunity merged my love for Mother Nature with my love for yoga practices,” she says.
Ross looks forward to sharing the experience of yoga while floating on a paddleboard with the open-minded participants of Maine YogaFest this year.
“It’s a beautiful venue that encourages self-discovery and genuine fun with people you may or may not know,” she says.
Ross calls the festival a small community, adding “it is truly amazing to witness a community unfolding right before your eyes. I couldn’t be happier to contribute to this year’s event and maybe even provide someone with a new experience they can talk about until next year.”
Ross says the festival has offerings for every age, lifestyle and practice level. That first year, she walked around East End School talking to local artists, entrepreneurs and other wellness-minded individuals. (It’s actually here where she first connected with Jana Olenio, who launched SUP YO!)
Beyond teaching the SUP YO! paddleboard yoga classes during Maine YogaFest this year, Ross is pursuing her 500-hour Yoga Teacher Training and looks forward to hosting yoga-based day hikes, overnight camping trips and outdoor recreation retreats with an emphasis on unplugging and getting outside. Through these offerings, she hopes to showcase the White Mountains of New Hampshire and Acadia National Park here in Maine.
To find out more about Dannika Ross and her classes, find her on Facebook at facebook.com/exhalationsyoga and on Instagram @dannikaross.
Emma Bouthillette authored “A Brief History of Biddeford,” about her hometown. She is a yoga instructor and a corgi mom. (emmabouthillette.com)