Inspiration: Karen Maidment

Inspiration: Karen Maidment

Karen is a yoga and paddleboard teacher and mountain biker who lives in the stunning Forest of Dean with her soul mate Katy and their rescue dogs, Luna and Suki. “Find something you love and do it with others who love it too” is her advice to those who are seeking motivation to get outdoors. Here she explains how she puts that into practice.   Inspiration - Karen SUP Paddle Boarder  

1. Hey Karen, tell everybody where you’re based and what you do!

Hey I’m Karen, founder of Soul Connection Yoga and Paddleboarding Adventures. I teach Yoga via my SCY Virtual Studio and In-Person. My style of class focuses on functional movement and traditional Yoga, specifically for active people. I also teach and guide on my paddleboard, predominately on the River Wye. I live in the stunning Forest of Dean with my soul mate Katy and our rescue fur babies, Luna and Suki.

2. How long has the outdoors been a part of your life?

I grew up in a tiny village in Somerset. When I was growing up, my Dad and Mum were really passionate about spending time outdoors as a family. As soon as we were old enough to walk, we’d spend time foraging in the hedgerows, learning about local birds and plants. Pocket money was earned picking slugs off the cabbages and, as we grew older, trips up to the Lake District to go hiking were an annual feature.   Yoga Bikers  

3. What’s been your favourite trip or adventure?

I’m not sure an epic adventure is necessarily about where you go, so much as who you share it with. For a few years I ran retreats in Sri Lanka: we’d take my local Yoga students over there to immerse themselves in Yoga, wellbeing principles and of course the beauty of the island. Sharing sunrise paddles in the mangroves, watching blue whales from our private catamaran and turtles lay their eggs on the beach by moonlight, swimming by snorkel with giant turtles, practising Yoga outdoors to the sounds of the jungle waking up. Now that’s the stuff of dreams for me.

4. How do you find a balance between being active and life’s other responsibilities such as work and family?

Finding life balance is crazy hard, so I’m not sure I will ever master that. BUT finding a balance between my need for outdoor time and my other commitments is easy. I have made huge changes in the last few years to create a life that is congruent to the things that bring me joy and support my mental and physical health. I am in a relationship with someone who shares my love of the outdoors, and my work takes me outdoors for 8 months of the year. When the paddleboard season comes to an end, Katy and I get away for a few weeks. Our next trip is to Costa Rica. A perfect spot for Yoga and outdoor activity!   Inspiration - Karen

5. Is there anyone who has inspired your love of the outdoors?

Definitely my Dad. He loves walking and hiking and has always been incredibly passionate about the UK countryside. No walk as a child was complete without a pop quiz on the names of trees, flowers, and birds! He still goes out for regular hikes with his friend Ray who he’s known since he was in school. They’re both in their 70s now. To me that is insanely inspiring.  

6. Do you find that being outside has a positive impact on your wellbeing and mental health?

100% - it is the main reason I set up my paddleboard school. I was going through a very dark time. Suffering with undiagnosed depression for several years. I was experiencing regular suicidal thoughts and at that point realised I had to change my life drastically. The minute I get on the water my breathing rate slows, my body releases any tension it was holding, and I begin to smile. I get the same vibe when I walk with the pups in the woods. Or when I ride my bike up a big hill and pop out to witness a beautiful vista.  

Karen Mountainbikers


7. What is it about yoga specifically that you love?

Yoga has given me back my self-esteem. It has taught me a greater level of respect for my body and has created a healthier relationship with my thoughts. Teaching Yoga outdoors, be that on a paddleboard, in the woods, on a beach or in my garden helps connect me to my joy. Paddleboarding has brought play into my life. I laugh like a child. It allows me to spend time outdoors bringing joy and happiness to others, educating and teaching. I think teaching and inspiring others is my true purpose in life.

8. When did you discover FINDRA?

I discovered FINDRA through a journal post just like this one. A Yoga student forwarded it to me because she’d read the quote given by the writer and thought I’d love it, which I did! It turned out that the post was written by the foster mum of my pup Luna, who had been found in the Sierra Nevada mountains when Katy was out there coaching on a riding retreat. We’re hoping to run a Ride and Yoga retreat in Spain next year with that same writer -Jennie from Pure Mountains.   Karen Yoga  

9. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

A life coach of mine called Vidya once said to me. ‘Play more Karen.’ At that time, I was setting up my clinical practice and working like a crazy person. There was zero balance. zero nature time, zero life enjoyment. I worked that life for 10 years, moved though burn out twice, before finally realising it wasn’t making me happy.

10. What motivational message would you share to inspire others to get outdoors more?

Find something you love and do it with others who love it too. For me, being outdoors often involves spending time with my community. People who love what I love, laugh at the same things, feel inspired by the same things. If you don’t love it don’t do it, ‘cause it will become a should rather than a must. And ‘shoulds’ often wind up feeling like work! Find out more about Karen:
Favourite Quote ‘The Body is a Reflection of the Quality of Your Thoughts’ Dr Wayne Dyer This quote is etched in my mind, and is often used as an inspirational anchor for a Yoga class. When the mind is in turmoil, we often make unhealthy choices around our lifestyle which leads to an unhappy/unhealthy body. As someone who craves physical activity, I recognise how important it is to maintain a strong healthy body and mind. Favourite Trails   Inspiration Karen On A Bike   One of my happiest places is here in my home in the Forest of Dean, on my mountain bike with my girlfriend Katy, our two rescue pups and our friends. We have some incredible trails that snake through beautiful woodland. Spring and Autumn are my favourite times of year to ride, when the sun is low in the sky and streaks through the pine trees, bathing the forest floor in a golden glow.   Favourite Adventure An epic adventure needs three components: Water. Trails. Pups. Katy and I head off in our camper at least once a month. Paddleboards and bikes in the back and pups riding shotgun up front. A perfect day usually starts with a morning spent mountain biking followed by an afternoon on the boards. And yes, the pups do both! This year my fav trip was up to Llangollen where we headed over the world heritage site, Chirk Aqueduct. On the way up we rode one of my favourite red trails at Hopton Castle and pit-stopped in Shropshire for some sweeping views and fun off-piste riding.   Favourite Music: Nadia by Nitin Sawhney


This guy is insanely talented and collaborates with incredible vocalists and musicians from across the globe. His music also has a strong political and environmental voice which resonates with me. I’ve been to the Royal Albert Hall to enjoy his music several times and the buzz is unreal.

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