My empowering experience with stand up paddleboard yoga
I've taken some yoga classes, but I'm certainly no yogi. However, I'm always up for ways to make fitness fun. So, when I heard about stand up paddleboard yoga class, it sounded like the perfect summer workout to try. I grabbed a few girlfriends (all first-timers) and headed to Paddle Diva in East Hampton, New York to try the new fitness trend. Owner Gina Bradley began offering the class back in 2009 and it's quickly taken off.
Our SUP yoga instructor, Jessica Bellofatto, helped us anchor our boards to a towline since the conditions were a bit choppy that day. Trying to balance on top of the paddleboard while still hitting your poses definitely added more difficulty to the practice.
"Physically, paddleboard yoga requires a lot more core strength and muscular engagement," Jessica explains, who also teaches traditional yoga at KamaDeva Yoga. "On land, you can get away with 'sitting' in your joints and relying on your flexibility to achieve certain postures. The unstable surface of the paddleboard requires one to tap into a much deeper source of strength and really learn to balance strength and flexibility."
Photos credit: PaddleDiva
Speaking of balance, I figured I'd fall off the board at least once, since I'd never done this before, but surprisingly, I managed to remain upright. The only girl who fell in our class was a really advanced student who did a headstand — which I opted not to try for my first time. But being out on the water with fresh air and a beautiful view of boats in Shagwong Marina really made the yoga class much more special than the traditional sweaty kind where you're trying not to kick your neighbor.
"Spiritually, there is no better place than being outside and on the water to feel that sense of peace and oneness, which is the goal of the yoga practice," Jessica says. If you're interested in trying SUP yoga, bring your bathing suit and a good attitude. "Come to class prepared to have fun, and (probably) get wet!" she says. "A sense of humor is key."