Get Up, Stay Up
Few activities are more relaxing than outdoor yoga and stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) — so combining the two can’t get any more Zen. But getting there takes a little practice.
With SUP yoga, the bay — ocean, private rental house swimming pool, or whatever you choose to float atop — the water is your mat.
A first go at this seemingly challenging concept, I signed up for a class at Pirate Coast Paddle Company, located at Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina, along the serene Back Bay. Anticipating a few — or dozen — spills, I preferred to fall into balmier waters while wearing barely-there yoga attire. The Back Bay feels like bath water compared to the Pacific Ocean this time of year. Still, it was a wobbly experience in the beginning for a quest to find balance.
Launching from the sands, I set out with Pirate Coast Paddle Co., hosted by yogi and SUP pro Jenai Aryan. SUP yogis of all levels, novice to advanced, can take part in the same class. Jenai lays out the essential SUP skills upfront, while still on dry land, making it an easy transition for anyone who’s never tried it. Familiarity with yoga does help though, since it’s difficult to watch for demonstration on the water as your board — and body — drifts and spins.
After a warm-up paddle around the perimeter of the bay, the group gathered in (somewhat of) a circle in the center. Guided by Jenai’s instruction, we flowed through a series of postures, from upward- and downward-facing dog to chair and tree pose to forward bends over our toes. Twists and side planks proved to be most challenging. And while finding a “focus point” on the floor in a standard Vinyasa class while settling into a pose is helpful, staring down at the tide in SUP yoga can be dizzying (even more so on the ocean, as I’d later discover). Better to keep your eyes on your board.
Finding stability becomes easier with each posture, but is still more difficult than practicing on a Manduka rolled over a hardwood floor. Surprisingly, no spills — I’d like say I’m just ‘that good’ at this; probably though, I didn’t push hard enough (No, I didn’t even attempt the headstand I could do with ease on earth).
The class concludes with the (semi) standard Savasana. In a single-file line, we each paddled back to toward the shore, and Jenai had us lie on our backs in corpse pose as our boards drifted with the soft current.
How much you get out of this class — as with any class — depends completely on your skill level and how much you put into it. I expect that after a few sessions, it’ll feel as effortless as Jenai makes it look. I’ll let you know.
Tip: Pack a change of clothes and a towel. “Just in case,” as Jenai says.
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