Get Fit on the Water With Paddleboard Yoga
By DASHAMA GORDON
I want to share one of my great passions in life: paddleboard yoga. This is a fusion of yoga and standup paddleboarding and takes place on a paddleboard on the water. I often practice on oceans, lakes and rivers or any place with clean, flat water.
A little history: Back in 2009, my friend took me paddleboarding in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. It was the first time I had ever been on a paddleboard, but I had kayaked and surfed on a longboard before, so it felt very natural.
I started practicing some vinyasa yoga and was amazed by how natural it felt to connect with the small waves on the water. I loved the sun shining down on my body and the cooling breeze on my skin. I looked down and saw fish, turtles, stingrays and all kinds of sea life. I immediately fell in love with the experience!
Yoga boarding is an incredible experience: You can enjoy being outdoors, connecting with nature and getting mood-boosting vitamin D. Because it requires balance and stability to stay on the board, it will strengthen your core and build muscles in places you didn't know existed.
Your flexibility will improve, too, as you relax and surrender deeper into poses. You will notice your yoga practice and other activities improve by including this in your exercise routine.
Over the next few years, I was asked to teach yoga boarding at many locations. The first was in Boca Raton, Florida. I taught classes on the ocean or, if there were too many waves, I held them in a swimming pool. All ages loved it: children, young adults, even the elderly.
Yoga boarding is an activity that can be performed by anyone, as long as you are willing to break out of your comfort zone and try something new. It teaches you to trust, to move beyond your fears, and one of my favorite lessons, which is to "ground into the flow." Learn to ride the waves of life and not be knocked off by the turbulence that comes to us.
It's playful and fun, but it also gets people to feel a deep connection to something greater. Many who try it for the first time are afraid of getting on the board. But breakthroughs occur when you let go of the fear and trust that you will be supported and safe in the presence of those who have your safety in mind. You can use a life jacket or surf leash if you feel you need that extra security.
I always tell people that it doesn't matter if you've never practiced yoga before. There are poses that are simple and seated, kneeling, on the belly (prone position), on the back (supine position) and standing.
In the five years that I've been sharing this fitness fusion, I see people who are amazed by how well they are able to do it and how seldom they fall off the board. And even when you do fall into the water, it's still safe and fun -- and it will cool you down on a hot, sunny day!
I highly encourage everyone to try yoga boarding and share this experience with people you love. It's a great way to connect with like-minded folks, health and fitness enthusiasts, yogis, mermaids, or just lovers of a good, fun life.
Be courageous and try something new this summer. Your body, mind and soul will thank you.
Readers -- Have you ever tried paddleboard yoga? If not, what's holding you back? If you've done it, how is the experience compared to yoga on land? What poses are easier or harder to perform on a paddleboard? Leave a comment below and let us know.
An innovator in the field of yoga, health and fitness, Dashama is an international yoga teacher, founder of Pranashama Yoga Institute, author of Journey to Joyful and star of 23 yoga DVDs. She created the popular fitness fusion commonly known as paddleboard (SUP) yoga in 2009. As one of the first yoga teachers on YouTube, Dashama's 30 Day Yoga Challenge reached millions of people and started her on an endless world tour traveling to teach her unique fusion yoga system, aka the Prasha Method. She has performed fire-dancing ceremonies all over the world and is passionate about preserving the natural environment. Visit Dashama's website and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.