Learn the Basics of Paddleboard Yoga
Paddleboard yoga is gaining popularity
Paddleboarding is hard. I don’t know from personal experience, mind you. I only assume so because I’ve seen many a fit, perfectly capable looking person fall repeatedly off a paddleboard into the ocean during the summer, while I engaged in the somewhat less strenuous activity of floating, toes up in the surf or looking for sea glass and shells with my kids.
When I think beach, I think sand, salt air, the cry of gulls overhead, the crashing of waves, and I like to imagine myself reclined, preferably with a book and a cold drink. I also do not think of yoga, though I have done that, and find it to be relaxing (at least the last 10 minutes of it when you are face down on your mat and ready to fall asleep after the workout you just survived).
But I most certainly would not think of putting the already-difficult paddleboarding and yoga together. Are there humans that can really do this? The answer is surprisingly “yes,” and it is only becoming more popular as instruction for this sport increases.
SUP (stand up paddleboard) Yoga combines paddleboarding (which originated in the Hawaiian islands in the ’30s and ’40s) with Yoga and creates a challenging fusion of sports that requires both a great deal of concentration and a good sense of humor. One must be willing to fall off the board, and likely often, as even the best practitioners are subject to the whims of Mother Nature. But for daring souls willing to try it, SUP Yoga offers the body a terrific cross-training workout and the mind a new view of gorgeous New Hampshire coastline.
For more information or to set up an appointment for instruction, visit Paddle Board Yoga.
While paddleboarding is gaining popularity across the country, SUP Yoga is enjoying a particular boom and is one of the fastest-growing sports trends. Its versatility means it can be enjoyed in the surf, along rivers and on lakes throughout the state.
You are not likely to run out and purchase a SUP before you’ve been at it a while, but when you are finally ready to purchase instead of renting, the Rogue Tesoro Stand Up Paddle Board ($976.65) is a terrific, all-around beginner board featuring superior stability, a soft deck pad and removable side fins to accommodate different types of surf. Weighing in at just 30 pounds, it’s also highly portable.
Hydrating is essential while out on the board in the sun, so Karen recommends a water bottle with a strap for anchoring to the board. The ChicoBag Bottle Sling ($9.99) keeps water close at hand and features 97-percent-recycled material and pouch pockets to hold other essentials.
Comfortable clothing that you’re not afraid to get wet will work best for SUP Yoga. The Sub Gear Rash Guard Women’s short sleeve top ($39) is both stylish and practical with different designs to choose from and SPF 80 protection from the sun.
Protect your eyes and face from the sun with the Glove It Women’s Capri Visor ($16.95) available in different prints and featuring SPF 50, “headache-free” adjustable coil and a wide brim.
Expert advice With Karen Fraser
Karen Fraser is a certified yoga teacher, 200 RYT. She has been teaching for 15 years and has been a certified group exercise instructor (AFAA) for almost 30. Karen and her husband have been married for 33 years and have three grown sons and are happily anticipating the birth of their first grandchild. She and her husband enjoy the New England coastline in the summer and skiing the Vermont mountains in the winter. Karen is looking forward to her fourth year as a SUP Yoga teacher.
How did you first get into paddleboard yoga? Were you really into one first, then the other, or did it all come together at the same time? I took up surfing in 2004 at the age of 44 and loved it! My three sons followed suit. One son loved it so much he moved to San Diego. He and his girlfriend introduced me to SUP Yoga, or Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga. I loved both yoga and surfing waves, so the combination was perfect for me (I feel in love!). In 2011, I asked our local surf shop, Cinnamon Rainbows, if they were interested in working together. I rent the SUP boards through them, and they send out a handsome “Surf Guide,” who assists with paddleboard lessons, etc. In August of 2012 I flew to San Diego to take a 30-hour SUP Yoga certification.
This seems like a pretty intimidating activity, even for the most fit and agile among us. Who is this for, and maybe more importantly, who is it not for? SUP Yoga is typically done in calmer waters, but here in New England it can be challenging. We check surf reports and weather forecasts ahead of time, but wind direction and weather can change quickly. So safety first — all students must be able to swim. Fitness level requirements would be the student should be able to do push-ups on either knees or toes, and have fairly good balance. It is not recommended for pregnant women, people with serious seasickness or vertigo issues or anyone with serious injuries or disabilities. Otherwise, just about anyone can do it.
Can you walk us through a typical, first time paddleboard yoga session? Class typically starts with a dry land demo, proper paddle technique and safety tips, such as how to fall, how to avoid falling on the board, how to get back on the board, what to do if the wind picks up and how to carry your board, paddle and anchor. Once we paddle out and acclimate to the SUP, we anchor and begin our practice. Centering at this point is always important. All the anxiety of learning something new has usually subsided and we begin. Ahhhh … it’s amazing! Doing Down Dog and seeing the ocean, the sky, small boats and kayaks is so tranquil, and yet it’s fun and silly at the same time. Class is geared toward both the student’s ability and the condition of the ocean. Mother Nature always wins. Savasana, the final resting position, is the best. Talk about feeling like you are floating. Class typically ends with everyone hugging on the beach and saying how much they loved it.
What do you love about teaching? I have enjoyed each and every class I have taught. Every day feels like a Saturday. I am truly blessed.
Any special clothing or equipment you should have on hand? Depending on the temperature of the water and weather conditions, I typically ask students to wear yoga pants or shorts, a rash guard top or bathing suit top, sunglasses or hats with straps and sunscreen. Wetsuits are included in the cost, and if necessary we use them. Students should hydrate beforehand, and/or carry a water bottle with a strap that can be tied to their anchor.