Trying FLOATING Yoga?! (Get Jacked)
I Tried Doing Yoga On A Stand-Up Paddleboard—Here's Why You Should Too
It’s 80-some degrees on a sunny weekend afternoon, and I’m headed to yoga class. Thankfully, it's not in a stuffy studio but rather on the waters of Spruce Run Reservoir in Clinton, New Jersey. When my instructor, Brooke, pulls down to the shore in a white van and starts unloading paddleboards, I get a simultaneous surge of nerves and excitement: Not only will this be my first time on a stand-up paddleboard, but I'll be downward dogging on top of it.
I didn't know stand-up paddleboard (or SUP) yoga was even a thing until a few weeks ago, when a friend mentioned that a local studio, Miss Melanie Yoga, led classes on rivers and lakes in our area. Almost immediately, I recruited a friend to try a class with me because it sounded so fun. (With a board rental it cost , but it's only for the class if you bring your own.)
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Yoga is a regular part of my fitness routine (in fact, I recently challenged myself to practice every single morning, without excuses, for two weeks), but I struggle to focus my mind on the poses instead of the to-do list that awaits me after class. I figured trying to balance on a paddleboardwhiledoing yoga would fix that problem, and instructors agree.
"While practicing on the water, you are more likely to remain focused on each pose and the transition of the poses for the basic fear of losing balance and falling in," says Melanie Smith, an instructor and owner of Miss Melanie Yoga. "This helps us control the mind to be more present. … I'm not thinking about what I'm going to have for dinner or that I forgot to feed the dog before I left."
Of course, falling into the water on a hot summer day isn't such a bad thing.
MORE:7 Things Your Balance (Or Lack Thereof) Says About You
Before we float out to the alcove in the reservoir where we'll anchor our boards and do yoga, Brooke takes about 30 minutes to set us up with gear and teach us SUP 101 (basically, how to paddle efficiently and steer). Our group is tiny—just one other woman along with my friend and me—so it feels like a private class. The boards are wide and designed for easy balance, so it's surprisingly quick to get the hang of paddling and glide over to our spot. When we get there, I let out a happy squeak because I spot a family of ducks rustling out of the reeds. Yep, way better than on land.
The roughly 45-minute class that follows convinces me that everyone should try SUP yoga. Here's why:
1. You are forced to focus on your own movement.
As we come up onto our hands and knees in tabletop position, Brooke begins to instruct us through poses, and I’m tempted to look over at my friend to make sure I’m following along correctly. But then I feel the board wobble on the water below and recenter myself with my gaze downward. You pretty much have to pay attention to your body alone to find stability, and since teachers are always stressing that this isyourpractice and everyone moves differently through poses, I see this as a huge benefit of SUP yoga.
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