Yoga on a Stand-Up Paddleboard? “SUP” with that?
Both yoga and stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) are quite popular where I live (Southern California). Recently, I found a place where I could do both … at the same time!
Had I been aware of Floating Yogis back when I wrote my Carlsbad/Encinitas, CA city guide for this site, I certainly would have included it. If you’ve done either yoga or SUP – or both – or neither – I encourage you to give it a try.
While I was in Yoga Teacher Training, part of the curriculum involved taking classes outside our “home” studio (Mantra Yoga & Juice). My YTT tribe-mates and I compared notes on where to go, and one of them said, “There’s this place on the lagoon called Floating Yogis. They put you on a paddleboard and take you through an hour-long yoga class.”
I was intrigued, as I had even less experience in paddleboarding than I did in yoga. I’d been going to yoga classes for a year and a half and liked it enough to get into YTT, but I’d only done SUP a few times. If you’ve seen pictures or video of people paddleboarding in the ocean, deftly riding waves … well, that’s not me. All three or four times I’d done SUP were on the calm, glassy lagoon, about a mile away from the ocean.
I thought, “Well, my balance is kinda shaky on a paddleboard … and I’m not great at staying in eagle/dancers/tree for very long … so, YES, let’s do this, what could possibly go wrong?”
One Sunday morning our group went to Floating Yogis. Our instructor, Sandra, signed us in and got us equipped with a paddle (the length is adjusted based on your height) and with a board (the boards themselves are larger, wider models, all the better for balancing).
We paddled out a ways into the lagoon, settling in a spot well away from the boats and jet-skis (though not, alas, from their wakes; I’ll come back to that). There, we literally “dropped anchor” – each board is equipped with one so the class will stay put.
Sandra began leading us through a beginner-level class, made more difficult by, you know, doing yoga poses on a piece of foam bobbing in water. She was good at starting us in a true-beginner version of each pose, and guiding us into more advanced expressions from there.
Now on this particular day, it was breezy and there was a lot of boat activity … so we were warned when wakes were heading toward us. We all got bounced around a bit during our class, but only I fell into the water, and only once. (Sandra gave us a good tip at the beginning of class: “If you feel like you’re going to fall, fall away from your board and into the water … it’s a softer landing.”) Fortunately it was still summer and my quick dip was actually quite refreshing.
After a sequence including cat/cow, backbends, forward folds, Warrior poses, and so forth, it was time for Savasana. As with most yoga classes I’ve been in, this was the best part. I lay on my back with my arms out and hands in the water, floating gently (the boats and jet-skis must have been taking a break), and lovin’ life. In fact, when our teacher said, “If you’re ready to come out of Savasana …,” in my head I thought, “Nama-stay laying on this board for a while.”
Eventually we weighed anchor and paddled back in, then posed for a group picture, and hosed the sand off our feet. It was a fantastic experience, and I’ve been back several times since.
So, the next time you visit Carlsbad, CA, book a SUP class with Floating Yogis … they also offer group retreats, “full moon” events, and even teacher training. If you’ve never been on a paddleboard, SUP yoga is a great way to (wait for it) get your feet wet!
Have you ever tried SUP yoga? How did it go? Share your stories below!