Typically set inside the quiet confines of a dimly lit studio, yoga is not something that immediately comes to mind when searching for a fun, outdoor activity to do. That is, until now. SUP Yoga adds a new, exciting twist to an age-old practice. For starters, a stand up paddle board takes the place of a traditional yoga mat. And a body of water acts as your yoga studio.
A single thought dominated my mind as we prepared to enter Beverly Harbor for a SUP Yoga class: ”there’s no way I am NOT falling in.” So much for the power of positive thinking. But our instructor, owner of SUP Yo, assured me that only happens to about 10 percent of her students. I tucked that affirmation into the back of my head and off we went.
If you’re like me and have never been on a stand up paddle board before, it takes a few minutes to acclimate yourself to the stance and balance required to maintain it. We did a little warm-up lap around the harbor and then settled closer to shore to begin our practice. In order to avoid being swept away by the current, each board is equipped with a small anchor that securely nestles itself into the sand after being dropped into the water.
The hour-long class included an assortment of traditional yoga poses like sun salutations, downward dogs, and rejuvenating twists. As the poses became more complex, balance became more of an issue. Even the smallest of waves, or simply the current, makes your “mat” feel unsteady. In order to stabilize yourself, you are constantly engaging your core, along with smaller subsets of muscles throughout your body. Ten minutes into class and I knew I would be sore the next day.
The thing that surprised me the most about SUP Yoga is the fact that it’s as much a physical workout as it is an exercise in mental focus. I admittedly lose focus quite a bit throughout the course of my regular yoga classes. But the paddle board has a way of penalizing you for letting your mind wander. At one point during the class, my focus shifted from the pose we were instructed to wind ourselves into, to three baby crabs frolicking along the ocean floor. Seconds later, I lost my balance and ended up joining those tiny crustaceans in the chilly water. I was officially part of the 10 percent. Moments later I was back on my board. My body was drenched but my mind was more awakened.
Enough can’t be said about the sensory adventure SUP Yoga offers. Our immediate surroundings , with the sounds of seagulls, soft ocean breeze, and smell of salt water, added a whole other dimension to the experience. It’s soothing, yet energizing at the same time. Kind of like ice cream, but with a much more favorable calorie ratio.
SUP Yo, www.sup-yo.com, single class $35, rate includes board and paddle rental; classes held in Swampscott, MA, Rye Harbor, NH, Seabrook, NH.
Do you have a workout for me to try? Tweet me @ApozTv.