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Yoga adventure: Stretching deep inside a 10,000-year-old Utah crater

Published March 13, 2012 11:52 am

Yoga • Stretching while on paddleboards in a 90-degree pool is a relaxing experience.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Midway • Most people practice yoga in a studio or an open room at home.

But Julia Geisler, of Park City Yoga Adventures, stretches the boundaries, teaching water yoga deep inside the 10,000-year-old crater at The Homestead Resort.

While Geisler demonstrates yoga poses from the dock, her students move and bend on paddleboards that float in the 90-plus-degree natural pool. "These are therapeutic waters," she said.

Balance is an important part of any yoga class, but when floating on the water it becomes key. "When you are on the water, there has to be an awareness of where the body is in space," Geisler said. "If you are doing floating yoga on a paddleboard and you make a mistake, you go into the water. It's about the alignment."

New York travelers Joanne Kellner and her two children, Dani, 17, and Jake, 15, decided to take the one-hour paddleboard yoga experience after spending the previous day skiing. "You have to stay focused," said Kellner. "You have to be mindful of what you are doing. The board is slippery."

The Kellners' traveling companions, Debbie Lipman and her daughter, Ilyse, also attended. Ilyse said her first yoga experience was "interesting" and the surroundings "serene."

"I didn't know I could balance," added Dani, who was surprised how good she felt afterward. "My legs don't hurt anymore. They were killing me this morning."

The healing art of yoga improves circulation, often helps with chronic back and neck pain and reduces stress, said Geisler, who has traveled to Arizona and Colorado to train in the Anusara style of yoga.

Park City Yoga Adventures offers other classes. In the summer, Geisler, an avid hiker, offers three- and five-hour adventure trips that include a hike to a scenic spot, followed by a yoga class. In the winter, there are snowshoe trips to a secluded yurt followed by yoga.

Geisler said she was looking for new adventures to offer when the crater — used by scuba divers, snorkelers and swimmers almost daily — came to mind.

The paddleboard yoga classes are by appointment only and vary in price depending on how many people are in the group. Two people cost $100 each; a group of five or more will cost $55 each.

According to The Homestead website, the crater is the only warmwater scuba-diving destination in the continental U.S. and has been listed as one of the 12 most unusual pools in the world.

In 1996, a tunnel was built to give swimmers and divers access to the crater's warm waters, said Craig Simmons, with the Homestead. About 100 gallons a minute flow in and out of the crater, giving the water its clear, dark blue appearance. The hole at the top of the dome lets in sunlight and fresh air, while the interior stays heated by the mineral water.

Inside the beehive-shaped calcium carbonite dome, it seems a bit primeval. The water is so dark it's impossible to see the bottom and the cold winter air creates a sauna atmosphere.

During the class, Theresa Morin, of Crystal Clear 101, uses seven crystal bowls to create chimelike music that eerily fills the space. "The sound brings you peace," she said. "These help you to feel what it is like to be in relaxation. Water is the conductor."

While the music helps the students concentrate, they can't help but giggle when someone falls into the water.

wharton@sltrib.com

Twitter @tribtomwharton —

Stretching on water

Julia Geisler, owner of Park City Yoga Adventures, offers one-hour yoga paddleboard classes inside a 10,000-year-old crater.

Where • The Homestead Resort, 700 N. Homestead Drive, Midway.

When • Year-round; by appointment only.

Costs • Varies depending on class size. Two people are $100 each; three for $75 each; four for $65 each; or five or more $55 per person. Equipment provided. Live crystal bowl music is $10 more per person.

Info • Snowshoe yoga and hiking yoga adventures also offered.

Details • 415-695-4502 or ParkCityYogaAdventures.com.