I know. I just can't believe it either. I hit the five-year mark of being an Angeleno and never set foot on a standup paddleboard (SUP for short). It was one of those things on my list, that I would get around to doing someday. Well ladies and gents, today was (finally) that day!
A friend of mine has been doing standup paddleboard yoga and was kind enough to let me tag along. The yoga part I wasn't too worried about. Although it's been a while since I've consistently practiced, getting to the yoga portion of the class meant I had to stay on the board itself. That was the part I was worried about.
How silly was I for being concerned.
Arriving at the Marina, I quickly found my friend and met our instructor, Karina. Once everybody arrived (there were 5 of us in this class) we would get our gear down to the water, do a quick tutorial on how to paddleboard, do a lap around the marina and then get into our yoga practice. It sounded so easy and peaceful! And to boot, it was a warm (even for LA), calm, sunny day so Mother Nature was doing her part to help ease my nerves.
The paddleboard was surprisingly light for as big as it is, so carrying it down to the water was no problem at all. Karina ran us through a paddling demo, and before I knew it, the moment of truth had arrived. Would I be a cartoon montage of flailing arms and legs struggling to stay on the board?
Thankfully, no cartoon gifs are needed as visuals. I got on the board, found my balance in a kneeling position and was on my feet in no time. Making all my hesitations seem even more ridiculous, there were paddleboarders with their dogs on board. Dogs. How LA.
Turns out the boards themselves are made FOR yoga, so they are more stable than the traditional board and have a yoga-mat type material on the surface. I was certainly appreciative of this, during our yoga practice.
The paddle around the marina was a nice warm-up and soon we were anchored and ready to begin our yoga practice. The poses themselves were all familiar (think down dog, plank, cat-cow, warrior, etc.) but the gentle movement of the water added a new challenge to your balance. Strangely enough, the inversion poses felt more comfortable on the boards. I wasn't able to make it to a full headstand but felt more solid in the handstand prep poses than when I had practiced them on land.
Did people fall in? Yes. Did I fall in? Yes. Did I get right back up on the board and try again? Yes. Did I love every minute of it? Yes.
At one point, we all decided to cannonball off the boards (because why not?) to add a bit more fun to the session. Even with the board soaked, continuing the practice was pretty easy with the textured surface. My one bit of wisdom - sunglasses are essential but bring a spare pair to keep in the car. It's hard to drive home when your sunglasses are covered in sea salt.
Before I knew it, shavasana was over, my clothes were nearly dry again and it was time to pull up our anchors and head back to shore.
If you're looking to try SUP Yoga, I highly recommend it. Check out the lovely ladies at YOGAqua, based out of Marina del Rey. They welcomed this newbie with open arms and lots of encouragement. They also take pictures during every session and post them to Facebook so you have that proof for social media (or your website - both pictures in this post are from them). I'm really looking forward to joining them again next weekend to continue my practice.
Have you tried SUP Yoga? Are you thinking about trying it? Drop me a note with your tips or where you're trying it! If you're in the Los Angeles area, let me know if you want to come to YOGAqua - I'd love to see you there!