This summer I have taken on a new hobby: Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga. Here are a few lessons I have learned with this activity:
How to get back on the board after falling
I was full of fear in falling. And then I realized, “How silly! It is just water!” I do get wet, but I feel refreshed from the hot sun. You just get back on and keep on paddling.
I also came to realize that I was judging myself for falling. But how am I supposed to magically know how to do this when I have never done it before? I learn from the experience, and keep on practicing. The Sanksrit word ahimsa, which translates to "nonviolence", came to my mind. An important aspect of ahimsa is not to have self-judgement, for negativity will cause injury to your self. When I fall off the board, there is no time for judgment - just get back on the board! I found that going with other friends or with a guided group is helpful, so that I can get assistance if needed.
How to stay on the board
Standing on the board requires me to stay focused on my body mechanics, while also staying balanced with the moving waters under the floating board. I quickly put myself into Tadasana pose, to help stand upright, bending my knees slightly, engaging my lower belly, opening my chest, and keeping my drishti (gaze fixed on a point).
Then came the paddling! Here comes some more yoga! While keeping my hips facing forward, I learned to turn just from the mid-torso up – like a twist – to the side as I dipped the paddle into the water and stroked from front to back.
How to move on the board
This takes practice. And that is the ultimate lesson: Practice, practice, practice! Much to my initial disbelief, it is actually possible to do some gentle, basic poses, including table, cat-cow, and downward facing dog. I need to quite the chatter in my mind and stay very attentive on my body, using my breadth and dristhi to keep focused. I slowly learned how to do a simple flow yoga practice on the water.
How to meditate on the board
Doing savasana, or corpse pose, as a final resting meditation is soothing when on the water. Lay back on the board, feel the sun on your skin, let your hands and feet come over the sides and dip in the water. See the clouds making patterns in the blue canvas of sky above you. Listen to the waves gently caressing the board underneath you. And your whole body sink into a heaviness, floating as one with the board.
Want an experience in living outside your norm? Join me for a Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga class this September at Sunset Lake in Braintree.
Dates: Sunday, September 20th