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If you haven’t yet given stand up paddle board yoga (i.e. SUP yoga) a try, it’s as hard as it looks. But it’s also just as amazing. A practice that will challenge every sense of balance you mistakenly thought you’d mastered, it’ll push you, humble you, and force you to let go. Let go of any expectations for yourself, let go of your need for control, and let go of the fear that you’ll tumble into the water and make a complete fool of yourself, because chances are you will. But don’t let that discourage you. There’s a reason SUP yoga’s making waves – it’s simply awesome.
I took my first SUP yoga class last year. I hadn’t had much experience on a paddle board, but it was a clear morning, I had no other weekend plans, and a drive down to Laguna Beach is always a good idea, if you’re able beat traffic anyway. I chose to take a class from an instructor rather than venturing out solo and although I was ready to have fun, I maintained pretty low expectations for myself – which is honestly the way to go. I’d been practicing yoga and teaching it for quite some time, but all bets are off once you add water. As a former competitive rower, I knew firsthand how every ripple, breeze, and curious seal can wreak havoc on a boat’s stability, let alone a paddle board’s.
Over the course of a couple hours, I struggled, laughed, flopped, and inhaled a gallon of seawater, but I couldn’t have asked for a better time. I fell in love with SUP yoga because it’s so unpredictable that you absolutely have to go with the flow and be completely lighthearted through it – which is what yoga’s all about, or should be. On the one hand, I had to be conscious of every inch of my body and intentional with every deep breath I took. On the other, I needed to surrender to the movement of the water below me and make every adjustment necessary (regardless of how pretty) to relax in each posture. Breathe, center, balance, repeat.
Of course, there are many factors that can affect your first SUP yoga experience for better or for worse, so here are a few ways to set yourself up for success:
If you’re up for something new, and unafraid of getting wet, SUP yoga should be on your bucket list. I promise, the best savasana experience of your life awaits!
About the Author: Melissa Lynn is a writer, yogi, and coffee fanatic from Southern California. A former Division I athlete, Melissa earned her BA in History at Stanford University, worked as a paralegal in Washington, DC, and happily traded pencil skirts for spandex to become a full-time yoga instructor. She is an avid traveler and you can learn about her experiences abroad on her personal blog and website at TheTravelingAmericano.com