Paddle board yoga resets reporter’s mindset
By Bryanna Allen
STAFF WRITER | August 18,2014
Anthony Edwards / Staff Photo
People take part in Stand Up Paddle Board yoga class on the Woodward Reservoir in Plymouth on Friday.
I am a yogi. Or at least part yogi. And having spent an evening several weeks ago on a friend’s stand up paddle board I was excited for the class that combined the two.
Until I got locked out of my apartment. And dropped my phone in my oatmeal. And it started raining. The combination of negative variables had me dreading an evening working on my day off.
Dressed in an old lifeguard bathing suit, a long sleeved running shirt and hot pink spandex, my mood was instantly brightened when I carried the surprisingly light board into the surprisingly warm water.
My German friend Richard joined me for the class, having never tried yoga or SUP before, he tentatively followed close behind as we scrambled onto our boards. The class started with an introduction and an overview of basic paddling skills. The teacher, Karen Dalury, explained how to turn, stop and pull ourselves along efficiently with our paddles.
Although I was dutifully listening, learning and practicing, I couldn’t help but feel distracted by the simplicity of my surroundings. The water was warm, dark and calm, despite the light drizzle of rain and September-like crispness in the air. The trees on the shore were already showing hints of autumn. The air smelled fresh. Everyone was dressed in bright colors, a contrast to the backdrop of the water.
A day that had steadily gotten more stressful as the hours passed had suddenly become glorious, and I felt giddy with childish enthusiasm.
Yet I channeled my own inner quiet and focused on the class.
Moving from crow to downward dog required serious concentration — every muscle in my body was awake and aware. The slightest movement caused my board to tremble.
The rain drenched my hair and made my toes squeak against the board whenever I moved, but I was warm, sweating, even. I kept looking at Richard, who, as a German police officer, is more focused on being buff than being balanced. Yet somehow he managed to stay on the board the entire time, despite multiple near-capsizing moments.
The beauty of the water and balance of the poses made me feel mentally and physically strong. I was tuned in to my breathing and body. Karen kept the mood centered yet relaxed, open to questions, modifications and a little bit of play.
The highlight of the class was when I was successfully able to complete the “wheel” pose. Think bending backward all the way down until your hands and feet support you, your body arched like a bow, your belly toward the sky and your hair dangling into the board. It’s like crab-walking to the extreme.
I got in that pose, looked at the world from an upside-down on-a-paddle-board perspective and laughed.
Getting out of the pose was harder. Good thing the water was warm.