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I Tried It: SUP Yoga

Jennifer Rea, 33, Mission Hills

Paddle Into Fitness
paddleintofitness.com

I’ve been practicing yoga for a few years and gravitate toward athletic styles like Vinyasa and Ashtanga, where the flow is continuous. I like leaving class feeling peaceful but strong. The idea of taking my practice to the water and trying SUP yoga had always been appealing. I thought the paddle workout combined with yoga would be like getting two workouts in one. Plus, even the nicest yoga studio can’t beat a bay view.

I met Gillian Gibree from Paddle Into Fitness on a Sunday morning at Kellogg Beach in Point Loma. For my first time trying SUP yoga, I was excited to have the water (almost) all to myself. I was also relieved—fewer boats in the bay meant calmer seas and a lower chance of my ending up in the water.

Gillian went over paddleboarding basics on the beach first, and then we paddled out. The paddling wasn’t strenuous and made for an ideal warmup. We stopped at a small cove away from boat traffic, in shallow water. My board was equipped with a small anchor that I was instructed to drop into the water to better stabilize my board during practice.

As we started class seated on the board with our eyes closed, the sun warmed my face. The sounds of the waves lapping and the seagulls overhead created a beautiful soundtrack. It was instantly calming.

We moved into standing sun salutations, then into the first downward dog. The most surprising part was how limited I was in movement. The tiniest step forward or backward would challenge my balance. I was keenly aware of where my feet were at all times, and my core was working overtime. Even familiar poses felt drastically different on the water. In most yoga classes, I am always thinking about getting into the next pose. For once, I was focused on keeping still.

I was surprised by the variety of poses that could be done on a paddleboard. Side plank, extended side angle, reverse warrior. I was more limited in my expression, but still felt the strength and stretch of each pose.

After 45 minutes, we came back to a seated position on the board, closed our eyes and brought our hands to our heart. I felt invigorated. I had been so focused on staying in the poses and out of the water, my mind really hadn’t wandered anywhere else. There was no clock to watch, no water to sip, no towel to wipe. I think I discovered the ultimate way to stay present.


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