Yoga on Water

Yoga on Water 12/29/13

misako_sup_kneeIt seems fitting to write about sun, water and warmth at this time of the year.
Here is my very first blog ever.  It is about one of my loves: Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) and SUP yoga.

When we think of a yoga class what often comes to mind is a pristine wood floored room with neatly ordered mats perhaps some candles and the smell of incense.

Stand up paddleboards are a newcomer to the water sports -essentially a large surfboard with with a long paddle that allows you to paddle while standing up.

The first time I heard of yoga on stand up paddleboards was that this was yet another gimmic. Why would anyone want to practice yoga postures on top of a paddleboard?

There are many different styles of yoga. Coming to a common definition  of yoga that everyone could agree upon could be a long conversation.  One of my favorite definitions of yoga is that “yoga is the practice of mindful moment by moment awareness”. To put it simply, while being aware of the details of posture, alignment, breath and stretch sensations we are so aware of the moment that we are engaged in moving meditation.

Without the clean quiet well ordered indoor space how could I enjoy this yoga experience?

Curiosity prevailed!  So with friends I went out to half moon bay. The day was cool so we donned the suggested wetsuits. Aside from the tightness of  the suit,   I felt the chill of the cold sand on bare feet.  I’d learned to paddle board in the warm waters of Hawaii so my immediate response was of discomfort and the judgement that I was not going to have a good  time.

We started paddling while kneeling.  The harbor fog blurred the lines between then far horizons and sea.  The smell of salty sea air brought up past memories.   I heard the lap of the water as I stepped up to standing. The immediate change in perspective was delightful.  I could see the rocky border of the marina, sea birds nestled with their younger downy chicks. Paddling started warming me up.  I felt the cold toes, but it no longer bothered me.  Concentration was needed with the coordination of dipping and paddling, then switching from one side to the other to maintain a straight line.  I felt the breeze on my face also which also pushed the board to more to the left so started paddling more on that side to compensate.

Around a bend we gathered and without words we started playing with yoga poses.   I tried “down dog” looking between my feet at the horizon.  The fog lightened. Now I could start saluting the appearing sun.  I explored how sun salute “A” would go.  Careful shifts in balance were required. I realized I was leaning more on one arm from a past injury.  I adjusted to the board by turning out my hands for up-dog.  Sunlight glinted off of the water. Simple postures like warrior I become a heroic feat of balance as inner legs and feet are called on to adjust continuously.   Triangle pose takes me for my first unintentional dip into the cold sea with a smile. I thought to my self, “this is GOOD!”

On the water, on the board, moving through yoga asana took the keenest attention I’d ever had to breath, movement and senses. More attention than I had mastered in any yoga classroom.

cobrasupStand Up Paddleboard Yoga takes you deep into mindfulness.  You are able stay in every moment of every breath, every sound, every smell. It is yoga, and it is delightful.