The 10 foot long paddleboards lay side by side in the sun along the sandy shore like fiberglass coated seals. Soft waves chased each other across the lake, encouraged by the welcome morning breeze. It was early enough that the herons still outnumbered the speedboats and the sun was just erasing away any hint of the nighttime chill.
I slipped my hand into the groove cut into the center of the board and hoisted it off the sand and into in the water. I carefully placed my knees on either side of the handle, the cutaway serving as a constant visual reminder of center. Stray too far and you fall in. After finding my balance, I carefully placed one foot and then the other on the board, staying in a cautious crouch until I trusted the board. Until I trusted myself.
- Learning to paddle
I pushed up to standing, taking the paddle with me. After a few rough rows, as I learned how to twist and shift to keep the board steady; I was off. The board traveled lightly upon the water, the hollow thud of the waves hitting the underside of the board. Our small group made our way up a protected inlet where the current was not so strong and the boats not as numerous.
We gathered in a group, our boards constantly shifting on the water as our minds shifted into practice. We were constantly reminded that these were not well-behaved yoga mats, sitting at right angles to a wall, rather they were dynamic surfaces carried by the whims of the winds and the currents. Common poses became uncommon when faced with the limitations and challenges of the board and the water. We each were ever mindful of our center. The water became our teacher, each little misalignment gently acknowledged with a tip of the board. Or, if the subtle hint went unrecognized, a fall into the depths.
There is no illusion of control on the water. You have only two choices: give in or give up. I gave in, sinking deeper into the board.
Pressing into down dog, the board began to rock with waves sent from a passing boat. Be with it. You can’t fight the waves. “Accept them and move with them,” was the lesson spoken by the water. I listened, giving in to the sway.
I turned over, pressing into wheel, gaining a new perspective on the ripening morning. I felt the strength in my limbs anchored equally to the board as it danced lightly on the surface, creating a balance of contrast. Feeling emboldened by the sun and lightened by the sense of playfulness, I moved into tripod, a pose which eludes me on the mat. Every muscle and every thought focused solely on the moment.
After lying in repose for several minutes, I pushed myself back up to a seated position, so comfortable in my balance that I moved with ease. Bringing hands to heart center,
As I walked back up the beach, I could feel the lessons of the morning practice settle in and I chose to carry them with me.
Update: The following day, I was able to do my first full headstand ever! I love the fact that I learned the basics of the pose on the water:)
The group I practiced with:
Atlanta SUP Yoga
Worldwide organization dedicated to SUP yoga: