I love to Stand Up Paddle. I fantasize about having my own board, hoisting it up on my car, and taking off to paddle anywhere and everywhere. I imagine a wardrobe of rash guards, and maybe a special pair of Cudas or Tevas, just for my new life on my board. And a paddle. Oh, a paddle. My very own, extra-long paddle, made especially for a woman of Amazonian height.
Now, for full disclosure: I’ve only tried SUP three times. And I’ve only successfully stood up and paddled on a SUP board two times. And yet, and yet.
So when my friend Sandy suggested that we take an SUP yoga class, I was equal parts majorly excited and completely nervous. I love yoga. I love SUP. What could be better than combining the two? What could possibly go wrong? But in quiet moments, I was haunted by images of my first attempt at SUP. An attempt that ended with many, many, MANY falls – each one more spectacular than the last. A lot of salt water in the nose, a lot of bruises on my legs, and a lot of wounds to my pride. I did not want to do any of that in the San Francisco Bay in the middle of a yoga class.
But as is always the case, when Sandy asks me to go somewhere, I am smart enough to say, “What time do I meet you?”
One foggy Wednesday morning, Sandy and I headed to Sausalito for class with OnBoard SUP. Our instructor was founder Leigh Claxton. She’s been teaching floating classes since 2009 – she’s not only the founder of OnBoard, it’s pretty likely she’s the founder of any kind of public SUP Yoga class.
When we arrived, our boards were lined up in a row, all set to go: life jackets and itty, bitty, teeny, weeny anchors on board. A quick check of heights and paddles (oh, the ever elusive dream of a tall, dark and handsome paddle just my size!), and we were off. Miraculously, the water was calm and still, and within a few minutes of paddling out of our cove, the sun broke through the clouds. I was already hooked.
We made our way into the next cove, dropped our itty, bitty, teeny, weeny anchors and began. The class was a traditional Hatha-style yoga class, so all the poses were very familiar. What wasn’t familiar? Doing anything other than standing or kneeling or sitting on an SUP board. From the very first pose, I knew I was in for a treat and a challenge. Balance poses that seem like a piece of cake on land, seem like daring-do on a board. My visions of a spectacular fall came back full force: only this time, instead of going down in a frenzy of flailing arms and legs, I was faced with the very real possibility of tipping my half-moon pose whole-ass backwards into the drink.
So I was cautious, but I tried everything. And I laughed. A lot. It was both super hard and super fun. I learned a lot about my sense of balance, and where I’ve been compensating. I got in touch with my core in a way I hadn’t ever before. And some how, some way, I didn’t fall in.
And, then, at the end of class - the Savasana. Oh, my lord, the Savasana. After practicing for an hour, on the water, with directions like, “Twist toward Angel Island,” or “Turn toward the shore” or “Face Mount Tam,” I was already blissed-out beyond belief. But then to take all that glorious energy into Savasana, it was absolutely divine, in every sense of the word. As I lay on my back on my board, with my fingers dipped into the water, I felt both the sun and the perfect cool breeze. I relaxed totally and completely. It was simply wonderful.
And while I’m not quite ready to haul my own board around from port to port, looking for new places to perfect my floating asanas, I will definitely be going back.
Sandy, what time do I meet you?