SUP Yoga: Love at First Paddle 

Yoga has a funny way of showing us our physical limitations while still surprising us as to what we are physically capable of.

Yoga, let alone any physical activity, can become quite a chore as we inch more and more into the hot days of summer. This can be especially true when your regular routine is disturbed by travel, beach days and back yard barbques. Until mid-June I had been ritually attending a hot, slow flow yoga classes, but by the end of that month, the very idea of trapping myself in a hot sweaty room with relentless heat both inside and outside the room totally turned me off. I needed to break away and try something new. 

Surfing Instagram and Pinterest quickly brought me to the topic of paddle board yoga. Photograph after photograph of single women practicing tremendously advanced poses on a tranquil lake often in just a bikini! 

Like a sign from the universe, my local studio, Chakra Power Yoga of Braintree Massachusetts, advertised several upcoming sessions at a local lake. I was stoked and immediately signed up.

Not only was this my first time doing SUP yoga, it was my first time ever using a paddle board. I had no idea what I was doing nor what I was in for. In the days leading up to the class I hoped I would take to the water gracefully but doubt crouched at the back of my mind, sarcastically amused by my naive physical ambitions. 

What I had hoped for: 


What would likely be my reality:

Finally the fated day arrived. My alarm went off. I sleepily rolled over to soak in my first rays of sun and I immediately thought to myself, “What the heck do people wear to paddle board yoga….?” 

Bring a frugal yogi, much of my yoga wear is made of cheap breathable cotton picked up from my local Target. After a bit of pondering and scrounging around in my drawers, I settled on a bright orange tribal sports bra from Primark, forest green bikini and a simple tank top from Target. I figured, even if I fell in the water at least look the part. Better go big or go home, right? 

The class was held at Sunset Lake in Braintree, MA. A lake I frankly didn’t know existed up to this point. I am ashamed to say I am still learning my landmarks after buying our first home on the South Shore more than 3 years ago. My friends and husband seem to be creatures of habit and tend stick to the local spots they know. 

After a quick lesson on the beach, the class of 7 women lashed their boards to their ankles, grabbed a paddle and paddled out into Sunset Lake. In breifly talking to the other students prior to class, I realized I was certainly not the only SUP yoga novice. Whether fact or fiction, this perception gave me the secret boost of confidence I needed to launch myself off  the shore toward the middle of the lake. Starting out on my knees, I was admittedly I wobbled a lot until I gradually found my balance and could bring myself to my feet. By the time I got to the meeting point in middle of the lake I was still dry and felt like a pro. Then the class began.

I couldn’t believe that the instructor included chadaranga, wheel pose and other challenging poses in her sequence, but I whole heartedly tried each one trusting my body and maintaining focus on my balance. Yoga has a funny way of showing us our physical limitations while still surprising us as to what we are physically capable of.

The experience was tremendously profound. I find that outdoor yoga is where I work the hardest and connect the most deeply. I could hear beautiful church bells wafting across the surface of the lake and feel the ripples of the lake gently kissing my fingers tips as I stretched in child pose with my fingers drangling over the edge of the board.

 Looking back now I found the ethereal tranquility that I had hoped to experience when researching SUP yoga. I was proud of myself for trying something new by myself and being fully present in my participation in the experience.

 Would I try it again? You bet your sweet ass. 

Dare to be daring
My wheel pose on Sunset Lake

Pros:

  • Excellent opportunity to learn about your balance, even as an experienced yogi
  • Great workout 
  • Fun and exciting 
  • Pushes your traditional yoga knowledge to a new level

Cons:

  • Not for the faint hearted
  • It’s difficult to wear a life jacket so I oils recommend this only for good swimmers
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