You really can do yoga on a paddleboard. It definitely tests your balance and when the wind is blowing, like it was on Sunday, you and your fellow class members drift apart fairly often. In that case, you just pause the posing for a minute to paddle back together. There were also a plethora of anchored sailboats that we had to avoid floating into, but I looked at them as just another way of keeping us on our toes.
Even though my “yoga mat” seemed determined to carry me out to sea, I still found it relaxing and an interesting challenge. And at the end of practice, lying back on the board and being rocked by the gentle waves in savasana–or “corpse pose”–I looked up at the cobalt blue sky and clouds racing by and felt true peace for the first time in weeks.
Urban Kai is the company that offers the stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga classes. They also teach regular yoga fitness classes and there is the option of just renting a board to paddle around by yourself if you want to.
The class was down at the “end of the island”, which was the place where, when I was in high school, a long line of teenager-driven cars would converge to partake in some underage drinking until the inevitable police car would pull up and everyone would disperse to their cars yelling, “Cops!”. Then we’d all drive on to the next unsuitable location and repeat the process. A pretty stupid way to spend an evening looking back at it.
But I digress—back to modern times.
“The end” of Davis Islands is a lovely place for SUP-board activities. Beyond the linear park and bike path and near the waterfront dog park, there is a little protected harbor where a lot of the aforementioned sailboats are moored. And there is a small beach, which is much less beer-canny than it was back in the day. It’s actually a nice place to chill and to access one of the best parts of living in Tampa, which is being surrounded by water.
Yoga on the board was interesting, both physically and visually. I definitely attempted each move much more cautiously than I would on land. But the SUP-boards are so stable that once you get used to it, the added sensory input of down-dogging while looking at an upside-down, boat-filled horizon and floating through the water is downright delightful.
I was thoroughly unable to do certain poses like a headstand or the tree pose where you stand with only one leg on the board, even when using my paddle like a kickstand for balance. But I was able to do a backbend and I didn’t fall in the water once. I felt that was accomplishment enough.
One of my oldest friends, Courtney, has recently moved back to the Tampa Bay area. She accompanied me on the SUP-board yoga adventure. She and I plan to take the plunge and buy our own boards soon so we can paddle all over our great watery state whenever we want to. I’m so grateful for my cool women friends who are here to help me adjust and make the most of my suddenly partnerless life. Thank you Maura and Courtney and the rest of my lady friends.
I would recommend that anyone try stand-up paddleboarding, no matter what your skill level is. You can always start on your knees and you’ll be amazed with the stability. It’s a unique way to enjoy the water and, if you get tired of paddling, you can always just strike a corpse pose and lie back on the board to watch the clouds go by. Technically, that counts as doing yoga.
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