By Becky Streeter
If you’ve ever tried yoga—no matter if you’re a master or a complete novice hiding in the back so no one will see your extreme lack of balance—there’s nothing better than the last pose of every session: Savasana, or Corpse Pose, laying flat on your back like the dead. Now multiply that wonderful feeling by one hundred as you perform this pose on a paddle board. Say what? SUP yoga!
Stand Up Paddle board yoga. Because regular yoga isn’t hard enough, right? Sandy LaValley, owner and instructor of Floating Bliss Yoga, thought the same thing the first time she tried it, but that’s not a good enough reason to deter you from trying. She says, “Students can enjoy Warrior poses and many others in kneeling and seated positions… and then progress at their own pace, working to a standing position in the center of their board.” She sees many big smiles as students begin to trust themselves in transitioning to standing.
Amy Erickson, owner and studio director at Latitude 44 Yoga Studio, states there are many benefits to practicing SUP yoga as opposed to, or maybe in addition to, traditional yoga. “SUP seeks a higher level of focus and ultimately strength,” Erickson says. “Traditional yoga is generally practiced on a solid surface. When the mind wanders you’re likely not going to fall off your mat when losing balance, or if you do, you just step right back on. Though strong engagement of the core is also ideal in traditional yoga, it becomes more obvious when practicing on a paddle board. With SUP, students will enjoy a nice (but perhaps unexpected) dip in the lake if lacking in either concentration or muscular engagement. It’s all in good fun and provides for a nice change in perspective while also getting to enjoy our local lakes!”
If you’re worried about being “that person” who falls in, don’t be. Everyone does it. LaValley says that’s part of the fun. “Typically, I have at least one student per class that does fall in the water, but many choose to jump in to cool off, especially kids.” Floating Bliss provides life vests and the paddle board also comes with a coiled ankle tether for easy retrieval.
SUP classes are geared toward boarders and yogis of all levels. In her sessions, LaValley says, “Students paddle to a quiet spot to anchor and begin breath work in a seated or prone position. After a gentle warm-up and stretch, students will enjoy sun salutations and various yoga poses in seated, kneeling and standing positions. The final floating resting pose, Savasana, is an unforgettable experience!” Erickson echoes this, saying, “Paddle board yoga can feel intimidating but it’s so fun! It’s a nice way to explore your body’s strength and abilities all while getting outside to enjoy nature. These sessions are intended to be educational, approachable, and an entertaining experience.” SUP yoga provides an extra layer of confidence and core strength that can’t be found in traditional land yoga experiences. Plus you get to enjoy Mother Nature in a beautiful, picturesque backdrop.
Comfortable clothing that is fast drying and allows easy movement (bathing suits or exercise-wear) is recommended. Some additional items to consider are sunscreen, sunglasses, sun-shirts and a hat.
“As you paddle back to land with a sense of empowerment and fulfillment,” LaValley states, “you may realize it’s not just about SUP yoga, it’s another opportunity to believe in yourself, challenge your limits, and rise above your fears.”
Floating Bliss SUP Yoga is a mobile business offering classes at Lake Altoona Beach, Dells Pond/Mt. Simon Park, and Coon Fork Lake in Augusta. Adult Paddle Yoga classes are 90 minutes in length. Paddle-only classes include a 60-minute Sunrise or Open Paddle class. Private classes are easy to schedule for family reunions, bachelorette parties, church family picnics or work retreats. NEW this year are Kids Empowerment Camps offered in July and August, sure to be one of the highlights of their summer!
Latitude 44 offers classes ranging from meditation to power yoga to paddle board yoga and workshops. Check out one of their monthly Destination Yoga events that are held offsite within the Chippewa Valley or at their home base on Madison Street in downtown Eau Claire.