Last summer, I would have laughed in your face if you told me I’d “love” stand up paddleboard yoga (SUP).
The first time I heard about SUP Yoga was four summers ago, when it was featured as a class option at Wanderlust Vermont. My very fit and adventurous yogi friends were excited by this new way to practice poses.
I have never been very athletic. Honestly, I am moderately clumsy. Recently, I was teaching a yoga class, and I tripped over my own two feet and face planted into a male student’s crotch.
My balance is a little above average because of a consistent, gentle yoga practice, but the idea of yoga on a paddle board seemed totally out of my league. Even standing up on a board seemed impossible. So I didn’t think much about it and that was that.
This summer, a dear friend put SUP Yoga back on my radar. Over the past four years, I had accomplished and overcome a lot, both physically and mentally, and paddling didn’t seem as scary anymore.
I am sharing my experience in hopes that this message reaches others who are anxious about trying SUP Yoga.
The stars aligned and I found myself on the water.
As we approached the shore, a line of beautiful blue, orange and yellow Glide SUP Lotus boards greeted us.
Our excellent instructor and my dear friend, Miss Melanie Smith, lead us into the water. When we were about knee deep she had us kneel on the boards. I was completely shocked to be standing up within the first two minutes of being in the water! I moved slowly with my breath to keep calm and steady. We paddled for a long time until we reached a quiet cove.
As we began to move through the yoga practice, I found that if I used the full width of my board, every pose felt more stable and powerful. We moved through a class much like I would teach in a beginner level land class, with slight modifications for SUP beginners to better explore the board. It felt like a slow dance; a little “getting to know you” session out in the middle of a beautiful lake.
At times, it felt like I was doing yoga for the first time.
The muscular effort required to hold poses was so intense. It was challenging and fun. And it is quite rare that I put those two adjectives together.
On the second side of modified side plank, I fell into the water. Falling in was my biggest fear. Once I was in, I didn’t even care, it felt so refreshing! And I was surprised by how easily I got back up onto the board. It certainly wasn’t graceful, but I got back up in less than a minute.
By the end of class I was popping up into down dog with ease. While standing, I playfully shifted the weight from one foot to the other, wiggling the board beneath me. I thought back to just two hours earlier when I felt frozen and rigid.
Winding down was heavenly.
Just like every yoga class, Corpse Pose was my favorite. It doesn’t get more magical than floating effortlessly on a tranquil lake after a challenging practice. I could easily do Restoratives under a big bright moon every night.
Do yourself a favor and give it a try! I can’t wait to get back in the water.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Chrissy Tustison / Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Courtesy of author Megan Ridge Morris.