It’s Saturday morning and I’m feeling a little tired from the one hour drive I made to try a
new yoga class. I force back a yawn while concentrating on my plank. After a few more seconds, I slowly push back into downward facing dog. What I saw next was surprising and breathtaking—not the back of a yoga studio, but rather, a large lake.
I’m doing yoga in the middle of Lake Lanier. My mat is a stand up paddleboard (SUP) and my instructor is Amy Tyrrell, owner of Atlanta SUP & Yoga.
This past Saturday, my friend Jane and I travelled to Gainesville, Ga to take a SUP Yoga class. While the weather could have been better (the class ended in rain), the workout and experience surpassed my expectations.
Amy started class with a short demo on how to use the paddleboard—which I definitely appreciated as I’ve never been on one before. She took us into the water one by one and we had some time to practice. I was scared at first—my boyfriend had told me there were lots of snakes in the lake, which there aren’t—but once I was on the water, I was surprisingly calm. The paddleboards provide more stability than expected, and I found my balance pretty quickly.
The class was divided into two parts. The first part was strictly paddle-boarding, and the second part was devoted to a restorative yoga practice and “play time.”
The paddle-boarding was extremely social. We went down the two mile creek and chatted with classmates about other fitness classes to try in Atlanta. The best part was that I didn’t realize how much of a workout I was getting, because I was concentrating on not falling in.
Restorative yoga was such a unique experience. I made my way through planks, down dogs, ab exercises, child’s pose, and crow. Finding balance on the board was difficult with the water rocking back and forth. However, it’s also extremely calming.
During play time, the group tried poses such as warrior one (much harder than it is on land!), wheel, and headstand.
It was the most fun and enjoyable yoga class I’ve ever been to, but I also felt more connected to my body and breath than ever before.
Here are the top 5 reasons you need to try SUP Yoga immediately:
1. It’s peaceful and beautiful
There’s no better backdrop to a yoga practice than a lake or ocean. It’s just you, your board, and a large body of water. Take it all in—it’s beautiful and relaxing.
2. Find your balance
Practicing yoga on a paddleboard is pretty much impossible if you don’t have balance. I learned a lot about how I perform different postures and distribute weight throughout my body. You have to be centered on the board and distributing weight evenly to maintain a pose. For example, in order to push up into full wheel pose, you have to extend both arms with the same amount of pressure. If you don’t, the board wobbles and tilts to the side with more weight—and you can tip over. It took me a few tries to get there because I wasn’t pushing evenly. The same goes for many poses.
3. Tone all-over
SUP Yoga works muscles all over your body. Your abs will get a great workout from maintaining your balance. When you paddle, you’re working many different arm muscles—biceps, triceps, you name it. Your legs are also engaged, although you may not notice until after. Standing up and balancing for that long can do some great things for your thighs.
4. Pick yourself up and try again
I can’t help but think of that old Aaaliyah song “Try Again” when I think of SUP Yoga. The lyrics, “pick yourself up and try again,” are just too perfect. SUP Yoga teaches you that when you fall down, you have to get back up. Literally—you’re not going to stay in the water, are you?
People can get very serious about their yoga practice. SUP Yoga puts the fun back in the practice. You can’t take yourself too seriously in this class.
Checkout my podcast with Amy Tyrrell about SUP Yoga here