Thursday, August 1, 2013

As if yoga wasn't challenging enough on land!

Everyone knows I love yoga.
I also love surfing, and more recently "SUP"ing, which stands for stand up paddleboarding.
SUP boards are much bigger and more stable than surfboards, and ideally you SUP in calm water conditions. This leads to the possibility of practicing yoga postures on a SUP board.

Last year just for fun I tried a few poses on my friend's SUP board, a downward dog, a three legged dog (harder!), a warrior (surprisingly very hard!), some backbends and finally I got the courage to try a headstand. I wobbled and bobbled, but somehow I didn't fall into the water at all.

This year I have been playing around a lot more, seeing what is possible. And, I have fallen in a lot! While I realize that doing poses on a board is not the same as practicing yoga, it definitely asks me to apply everything I have ever worked on in my yoga practice on and off the mat.

Yesterday I tried doing some "drop-backs" into a backbend on the board. Literally my whole world was turned upside down. When you do this on your mat, in a yoga studio, the ground is flat and doesn't move. You can see he ceiling and wall behind you as you go backwards, giving you a relative idea of where you are in space and where the floor is. I started to drop back on the board, with small waves under foot, and as I put my head back, all I could see was big wide open blue sky and moving clouds. AHHH! It was very unexpected and disorienting but like I have learned to do in many situations, I relied on faith, my grounded feet and legs and core, and just had to trust that I would be ok. I would either land, or I would fall! And either way, I would be ok. I landed. My arms crumpled a little bit to help me balance, but I survived.

It thrills me how I have to pull together absolutely every part of my knowledge about yoga, in order to practice postures on a SUP board. It requires equal amounts of strength and softness, balance and flexibility, trust and surrender, a willingness to fail and humility, concentration and calmness, steady breathing and total awareness. What am I working on now? Handstand on the SUP. So far I've only gone for bunny hops and giggles, but I know it's possible!

I highly recommend giving this rising sport a try. It takes a while to get used to the board and the balance. You should paddle around a few times before attempting to do yoga postures. But it is truly so much fun! I am going to run a few little mini SUP-Yoga retreats down at the Toronto beaches toward the end of summer if you want to come out and try it, with some expert instruction from me, on how to fall with a smile :)

Check out for details.

There's also a great little company that rents boards, gives lessons, group paddles and SUP yoga classes in the Toronto Beach called "WSUP". Speak with Gudrun, she's amazing.

Happy SUPing!

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