Not long ago I shared my first SUP experience with you. Last Monday I had my second SUP experience, this time with the added twist of practicing yoga on the board. Indigo Wellness Studios in the Quad Cities (where Clarissa teaches some of her classes) has a SUP yoga program with a number of instructors, and some really nice boards. The cost was minimal; $23 for the 90 minute class, and that included the rental cost of the board, paddle, and PFD.
Though I have been known to do a little yoga in my day, have enjoyed the practice, and feel that it is great exercise and meditative practice, I am not a yogi, and this post won’t be from the perspective of a dedicated yoga practitioner. If you’re looking for something along those lines, I will recommend that you check out this post from the blog of my bride to be, who is a dedicated practitioner. Her blog was the reason we were there, I was just along for the ride. I’m glad that I went; it was a fun experience that took two things I have enjoyed in the past and threw them together in a manner I would never have thought of myself. It was a good time.
This experience was obviously different from my initial hour paddleboarding, but we spent some time paddling to the “yoga cove” so I did get a chance to apply what I had learned from last time. I established my stance and balance almost immediately, I held the paddle properly, and my stroke was much more effective on this trip. I’m still not an expert at piloting this watercraft, but I sure was able to traverse the water in a much straighter line this time. It’s one thing to know what you should to do to improve, and another thing to actually implement it, so I was really happy to see this improvement.
The yoga part of this experience, however, was much more challenging. Part of this is because I’m out of practice; I haven’t been to a class in awhile, simply because it’s hard to fit it into my schedule between running and lifting. I do tend to incorporate some Sun Salutations and planks into my weekly exercise regimen, but it just isn’t the same kind of challenge as 60 to 90 minutes of yoga. That’s the thing about yoga though, it remains challenging as you level up. The experience was, in some ways, less challenging for Clarissa, because she spends at least three to four hours in the studio a week. On the other hand, she amps up the challenge by doing things like arm balances and headstands. Both of us, to varying degrees, had the additional challenge of trying to balance on the paddleboard while doing this. It was different for each of us; she’s much better at yoga than I am, and I’m more comfortable on the water than she is (though I’m still the one that ended up in the water twice while she remained bone dry).
Would I recommend it?
Yes, but with some stipulations. I wouldn’t really recommend doing this as your first yoga class. In a more traditional (read; land-based) yoga class, the instructor can assist you getting into postures, adjust you, and give really close instruction which makes it a lot safer. On the paddle board they can’t really assist or adjust like they would on solid ground, and though they can demonstrate, they’re doing so from their own board. If you don’t have some familiarity with the poses, it’s going to be much more difficult to safely find yourself in the posture and retain your balance. What this really means is that you’ll be limited in how much yoga you can do on your board; the less familiarity you have with the postures, the more time you’ll spend either sitting on your board, or waiting in resting postures. I was familiar with most of the postures, but there were still plenty that I needed to sit out. Despite being good on the water, and even avoiding the more challenging poses, I still ended up in the water twice. If you’re interested in paddleboard yoga, I would recommend checking out a few classes on dry land first and getting comfortable with the practice. Then you’ll feel much better on the water.
Keep in mind that even if you’re good on the water and/or have lots of yoga experience it’s still entirely possible that you’ll fall,. Yoga on a SUP is fun, but it isn’t exactly an experience to which the human body is naturally attuned. If you do lose your balance, the advice for falling off a paddleboard still holds true; you want to allow yourself to fall off of the board so that you don’t fall onto it, which is more likely to result in injury. In a yoga pose, this might be a bit more uncomfortable, since your body might feel a bit tangled up (depending on the pose). The important thing is to remain calm, come to the surface (without freaking out if your feet are touching the mucky bottom, which mine did), and carefully climb back onto your board. On this outing, we were wearing leashes that attached our ankles to the board, so there wasn’t any fear of it getting away from me. If you have any problems, let your instructor know, and if you don’t feel comfortable doing a pose, it’s okay to pass on that one, even if everyone else has it perfected. Yoga isn’t a competitive sport, so focus on yourself, do what you can do, and do it to the best of your ability. The experience is supposed to be fun, so don’t put undue pressure on yourself, just have a good time.
Obviously, if you’re not into yoga and you’re just wanting to go out supping, this won’t be for you. Clarissa and I both enjoyed it, as did the other people in the class. It was also a really good workout; trying to maintain your balance in the posture while staying balanced on the board really hits your core! If you have a little yoga experience and think you’d like to add an interesting challenge to it, you’ll probably have a great time with SUP yoga.