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Yoga + SUP

Yoga + SUP

We already know how serene and completely relaxing the effect of being on the water has on our minds, and therefore, our overall well-being. Then imagine just how amazing the experience of practicing yoga on the water must be! The following are what I learned from Sarnia Rose of Pure Aloha Yoga.

SUP (Stand Up Paddle) yoga is quickly becoming very popular among water lovers, fitness fanatics, boaties and yogis alike. It is the perfect way to gain all the benefits of yoga in the perfectly tranquil surrounds of your favourite waterway. Be it a creek, lake, river, estuary, pond or ocean, as long as the winds are right, you can test your down-dog skills, and get some much needed Vitamin D at the same time!

One of the major benefits of SUP Yoga in particular is how much it engages your proprioceptors. “My proprio… what?” you may ask. Proprioceptors are tiny sensory receptors found in the nerve endings of muscles, tendons and joints, as well as the inner ear. They relay information about movement and position, and are essentially what control our spatial awareness. These little guys detect even the slightest of changes to our movement or positioning, as well as any changes to bodily tension and force. When we SUP, for example, these receptors are working overtime to keep us upright and out of the water. Of course, we use these on land as well, but having a constantly moving space underfoot allows one to train and strengthen the proprioceptors, along with all the tiny muscle fibres that surround them, very effectively.

What are the benefits for boaties? It means that through training the muscle fibres, you will have a stronger, more controlled stance while moving around your boat, fishing, hauling your catch over the side of the boat, etc. Through the training of the inner ear, you are training your overall balance, which allows you to move more freely from land to boat, and back again. It will give you added confidence with your ‘sea legs’. You will be sharper in the mind, and have a faster reaction time when you need it most.

For the well-practised yogi, adding the extra element of an unstable base and having water underneath you (as opposed to solid flooring), can make even the simplest of poses a little bit more challenging. Focus on the breath is a key point in any yoga class, but none more so than in SUP yoga. It is imperative to breathe, activate the core and bandhas, and centre one’s attention on the present moment to avoid ending up in the water. (Although on a hot summers’ day, that’s hardly a bad thing!) Often without even realising, you gain a much more controlled sense of awareness during SUP yoga because of the higher level of concentration it requires.

This is not to say that SUP yoga is all tensed tummies and holding poses, with no enjoyment for the activity. If anything, it is the exact opposite! The concentration and bodily activation happen in a very natural and almost autonomous way. The tranquility of the water allows your thoughts to float away much more organically, making it easier for you to surrender to the practice. Being outside and surrounded by nature – salt, sunshine, and all – encourages you to actually want to breathe in the fresh air as deeply as you can, and enjoy the long exhalations of old, stagnant energy.

One of the greatest things about SUP yoga is that anyone can get into to it. All you need is a board and some water! A regular 10ft board will absolutely suffice. However, Sarnia does recommend the inflatable boards are a great option for ease of transport and to save space on your boat. Able to be inflated in a matter of minutes, you can set up the family on SUP’s while you relax into an afternoon of fishing, or use it as a wonderfully meditative way to wind down and give your body a bit of love after a long day on the water. It is fun, and it releases endorphins to promote harmony and happiness in our mind, our body and our spirit.

We are made up of approximately 70-80% water, and so have a very strong connection to water. The tides move in and out with the moon, just as our breath moves in and out of our lungs. As the lull of the tides move with you and through you, the deep connection you gain while practicing SUP yoga is undeniable.

For more information on SUP yoga, Pure Aloha Yoga (www.purealohayoga.co).

 

By Lowen Taylor

 

 

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