WLVT: Life Lessons Learning from SUP Yoga
Life has a way of making sure we’re exactly where we need to be, I’ll scribble in my tent after waking at one a.m. with the lessons from my first standup paddleboard (SUP) yoga class coming to me fifteen hours after the class I’m about to take.
Lesson #1: It’s hard to be fully present when playing catch-up. This is not only my first attempt at SUP Yoga but also my first attempt at SUP and is made more challenging than I expected when I miss the shuttle to class that leaves earlier than I think. By the time I arrive, I’ve missed the instructions but am in time to get a paddle and a pink board and get in the water with the rest of the class. I figure I’ll figure it out by watching them. Like the others, I step up onto the board in the water to a kneeling position then stand up from there. Being at the back of the group, though, I notice the others already paddling away and don’t take time to savor the sensation of standing on a board in the water.
Lesson #2: Go Deep, Engage Fully. I dip my paddle into the water a few times and go astray. The instructor, Jonathan, tells the other errant paddler and I that we aren’t putting our paddles in the water. It isn’t literally true; our paddles aren’t dry. But we were just skimming the surface rather than powering our paddles deeper into the water.
Lesson #3: Look Where You Want to Go. As with many new things, it still isn’t as easy as it looks. My impulse is to move my paddle to alternative sides with each stroke, like kayaking, but this wasn’t what the others are doing. And unlike kayak paddles, these paddles have only one blade. I keep looking at my paddle, as if it has the answers. “Look where you want to go,” says Jonathan. Just like mountain biking, I think. If you look at the rocks, you hit them—and in life, too.
Lesson #4: There’s Always Another Way to Look at Things. Practicing yoga poses on paddleboards is like doing yoga on moving ground. Yet the poses are so familiar that I relax into them. In fish pose, I forget about the rest of the class. I feel a sense of inversion that I don’t usually feel on land in fish pose. With my head upside down, the land is below the water and looks like it’s all a reflection in the water.
Lesson #5: We Learn Best When We’re Not Afraid to Fall. Class ends with some free time to practice yoga on our own on the paddleboards. I tentatively rise up into warrior two and feel a sense of accomplishment. I get bold and shift into an awkward triangle. And, then, splash! I’m in the water—and it feels refreshing. I don’t care that I fell; I care that I tried. I leave my first SUP Yoga class thinking it’s something I’d like to explore more, which I know will mean falling more.
~ Heather Andersen is the author of the award-winning memoir I Never Intended to Be Brave: A Woman’s Bicycle Journey Through Southern Africa. She’s bicycled on six continents and in all 50 U.S. states. A writer, bicycle tour leader, and certified yoga teacher, Heather believes in spending time outdoors every day, seizing the moment, and living a life of no regrets. For more info about Heather or her book, including a free sample chapter, see www.bicyclingheather.com. Follow Heather at www.facebook.com/INeverIntendedtobeBrave.