Standup paddleboard yoga requires a different kind of balance – Isthmus | The Daily Page

Try a sun salute… on Lake Wingra
Carrie Anton on Thursday 07/10/2014

Isthmus | Daily Page

Leave your yoga mat at home. Here, downward dogs and sun salutations are gingerly executed atop a standup paddleboard surrounded by nature and open water.

“Water slows the yoga practice, as keen focus is necessary to achieve and maintain physical balance on the board,” says instructor Maureen Hebl, both a certified paddleboard teacher and a registered yoga instructor. “The relaxed pace along with the beautiful surroundings naturally leads to a more mindful, yet still energizing, practice.”

Unlike land-based yoga classes, which might begin with gentle head rolls and child’s poses, participants in standup paddleboard yoga warm up with an invigorating single-oar row while standing or kneeling on a cushioned board similar in size to a large surfboard. A moderate headwind can create choppy waves, making it hard to believe that achieving yoga’s stereotypical sense of calm is possible. However, once all class members are tethered to an anchored line of buoys, the class transitions to yoga, and a moment of stillness settles in. Blue skies and warm evening sunshine create the serenity that can only come from nature.

Hebl aims for a flow similar to the kind found in studio classes, complete with standing poses, seated stretches and a few bridges and wheels for those who dare to turn upside down. But working on an unsteady platform means good technique and proper alignment occur more organically than in a classroom setting. “If you’re in a plank position on your mat, it’s easy to favor one wrist or hold your weight improperly,” says Hebl. “Do that on your board, and you’ll take a dip in the lake.”

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