Finding Balance In a Big City

BOTE Ambassador TJ Mangrum discusses the availability of water in Atlanta and the SUP classes that are right at people’s fingertips!

Do many people in your area know about the water they have access to?
When I tell people that I teach SUP (Stand up Paddling) and SUP yoga in Atlanta, they always ask "Really, where? Where do you teach? Where's the water?” to which I laugh and quickly realize, they are not joking. Three out of four times, that's the response. I love this question for so many reasons, but it is also somewhat troubling. In Atlanta, and so many other big cities, there are so many bodies of water available to us. Yet, as a city, we are unfamiliar with our water ways even though we drive over them and by them daily. Atlanta alone has huge lakes and rivers such as Lake Lanier and the Chattahoochee. Although these bodies of water are not smack dab in the middle of downtown, they are still only a short car ride away.
For those who are aware of these waterways, I feel so lucky to share this gem of nature with Atlantans. I love that sharing what I do with people not only shares SUP with more people, but also provides a glimpse into our natural resources that are minutes away from our busiest highways and neighborhoods.

What kind of classes do you teach?

I teach SUP yoga for Soulful Yoga and SUP, on the weekends, on Lake Lanier. We teach off a tiny cove that seems exclusive from the massive 57.92 square mile lake. We share affordable and accessible SUP yoga classes to Atlanta and work to promise fair prices so that the exclusivity to this sport fades and the embrace of community and nature prevails. I love the idea of SUP yoga being accessible. I love the idea of it being familiar. I believe it's important for our souls to spend time in nature. So to combine that with spending time breathing and being present with the self in nature...Yes please.
I also teach private SUP instruction classes. I watch and help people conjure familiarity with using their minds and bodies in an unfamiliar way. It's incredible to watch a human reach for a board, at the beginning of class, with uncertainty and hesitation only to return the board, after class, with confidence and belief in their new found trust in their capabilities. It's beautiful.

Can you tell us about an experience you have had while teaching SUP?

Today I worked with an eleven-year-old boy, named Thomas, and within minutes he was conjuring the confidence within himself to experiment with testing his weight distribution and play with different paddle strokes. It was amazing. He absorbed my words like a sponge. I watched him feel the power of proper form and its' benefits to mobility. It was so cool seeing this kid compute the power of his body. I feel inspired by this dude. How much he loved it and kept saying to his father "When do we have to go home? Because I don't want to." And as we docked "When can we do this again?"

Why do you think getting people out on the water is important?

Just like my class with Thomas today, people are going to remember their experience on the water and on a board. Hopefully it will produce a newfound respect for water and then maybe that water will mean something to people. Maybe they’ll then want to do their part to keep our waterways safe. Maybe.
Today, Thomas had he asked me to go retrieve some trash that was bobbing in the water so we could take it back to shore—that's something to be proud of in a human. That is one tiny step towards helping our environment. One more human who's got nature’s back. I believe if we all spent more time in nature and on our boards, it would produce a higher level of consciousness for nature and in this day and age, that is definitely a necessity.


Click here to learn more about TJ mangrum! 

Click here to learn more about Soulful Yoga & SUP.

Published on 2017-08-23 in Stories