There’s no doubt in our minds that stand up paddleboarding is great for our wellbeing. Having explored this in our SUP for mental health blog, we know all about the benefits. It gets you out into nature, encourages mindfulness and gets your body moving.
Never have those benefits been amplified as much as when we took to the water for some paddleboard yoga.
Many of us in the group were seasoned paddleboarders, with one fairly experienced yogi amongst us. Hear from both, as we describe our first experiences of paddle board yoga.
‘The session started with a gentle paddle away from the shore, where we anchored just a little way into the bay. It was calm and fresh, hardly anyone else on the beach. Our instructor started by having us sit on the board, cross legged. It felt unusual not to be on the move, but there were new sensations to experience. I became particularly aware of my body as I took deep breaths and felt my balance shift to accommodate the movement of the water. Going into a state of calm felt natural and easy as little waves lapped at the board, a breeze brushed my face and seabirds called overhead.
I was surprised to find the sequence of ‘down dogs’ and ‘cats’ that followed was not too challenging, although I deliberately didn’t push myself too far with the stretching. When I matched my breathing to the movements I was amazed to find the ‘flow’ feeling they talked about. I would not recommend swinging your head around to see how the others are doing, though. It almost sent my delicate ‘table top’ into the sea.
When we finally came into ‘corpse pose’ (Or ‘Shavasana’ in Sanskrit, as we came to learn), I encountered a very soothing feeling of unwinding. Lying on my back, and with my hands and feet trailing in the water, I could really feel the restorative nature of this one. The warmth from our session flowed through me, the board bobbed, supporting me, and I could feel the quiet more acutely.’
‘I was so excited to give paddleboard yoga a try! While I wouldn’t exactly call myself ‘experienced’, I’ve been going to yoga classes for years and would maybe stretch to ‘intermediate’. My problem has always been concentration in my practice, as my mind will wander to post-class problems to solve. I was eager to try SUP yoga to see if the need to balance would keep my mind on the task at hand.
So, we anchored at a good spot and started to find our breath, and I was struck by how incredibly peaceful it felt to be in nature. I felt all exterior stresses melt away far more easily than usual.
Firstly, we came up into tabletop, and I found that the familiar shift felt a little more wobbly on the board. Pressing firmly into my hands and feet I found my balance, and already found myself feeling stronger in my position. Next, we moved into some cat variations and I felt a little tremor of movement in the board as I arched my back. There really wasn’t any time to become complacent, or I would definitely fall in.
As the sequence gathered pace, I started to find my rhythm. I felt like my down dog was surprisingly stable, although by then I had learnt to really press into my foundation. I could feel new muscles tensing, or maybe just tensing more than they normally would, and yet it didn’t feel like a huge work-out. It just felt like a necessity, and therefore not a chore.
The truly revelatory part of the session was the lovely Shavasana. This is always my favourite part, but the board offered a totally new experience. There was the soothing soundtrack of the sea and the faint feeling of sun on my skin. I dangled my feet in the water and went into one the best meditations I’ve experienced.’
GIVE IT A TRY…
Are you are a yogi looking to take to the board? Perhaps a paddleboarder curious to try yoga? Maybe you’re a complete novice in both looking for a new challenge. Why not find a class near you? If you’re in Pembrokeshire, we recommend BirdSol.
Fun fact: Paddleboard yoga is widely recognised to be far more comfortable on an inflatable board than on a rigid one. Another win for us! Why not check out our range of inflatable paddleboards here.