Class Spotlight: SUP Yoga with 614 Yoga

It finally happened!! It only took me all summer for me to get around to SUP Yoga, which is a small tragedy, because now I am totally in love with it just as the weather is cooling off.

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I stalled for a while, because it was so far out of my comfort zone. I know, I know. When has that ever stopped me? (See: Cavalier Girls at BalletMet or Class Spotlight: Intro to Pole at Studio Rouge, and so on) But really, I have ZERO experience with water sports. Me at the beach basically means playing with the kids, wading in the water when I get too hot, reading, and drinking. Yoga-wise: I am alright. I practice once per week and keep it pretty simple. I wasn’t sure how that would translate to a wobbly paddle board out in the water. I am so thankful 614 Yoga reached out to me and invited me to enjoy this amazing experience so I got the little push I needed.

There were just a few things I needed to figure out, but I made it happen (with a few some bumps along the way). I will pass along to you what I learned, as well as what I would do again.

Lets start with the location. I have lived in Columbus for my whole life (minus 4 years in the desert getting my undergraduate in Kinesiology). I am embarrassed to say my knowledge of Hoover Reservoir started and ended with its place on a map. Guys, it’s beautiful! It’s also huge. Don’t do what I did and punch in “Hoover Reservoir” into your GPS. You’ll end up 13 minutes from your actual destination and pretty mad at yourself. Even with the right address, it’s a little hidden, so I’m here to help. The class met at 8377 Oxbow Rd., which is not the dam itself, which many a Columbus fitness enthusiast likes to run on. It’s further north and along the western bank. Once you head toward the address, you’ll drive along what doesn’t actually look like a road because it’s gravel with bumps and water on both sides of you. You’re going on an adventure! Now that I (and you) know where to go, it will make our next visit there much easier. Yes?

So what the heck is this anyway!? There are always serene, beautiful, impressive pictures on Instagram of yogis doing headstands on giant boards in some body of water. It’s that, kind of. I was not asked to do a headstand at any point in my class, but I’m quite certain you may indulge yourself in popping up into one should you so choose. Here’s what we did do. Project 908, who makes and rents paddle boards locally (yay!) brought the materials and the instructions. Each person was given a life vest to wear or tuck in the bungee cords on the board. Ashore, we leaned the basic stance and how to use the paddle. A few strokes on each side seems to do the trick.

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The edge of the water is sandy/rocky and it was kind of uncomfortable walking down the slope barefoot. Once you’re on the paddle board, you probably won’t want shoes though. It’s just maybe 15 feet of walking, so not a big deal. The boards and paddles were ready to be paddled out to a quiet cove across the water.

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On the way out, I sat down fully, because I just didn’t have the feel for it yet. It wasn’t the most efficient way to go, but I got there just fine. Paddling across the water required moderate trunk and shoulder strength and light to moderate endurance. It was such a beautiful day, I kept wishing I could just do that for an hour or so!

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Now, onto the yoga part. Settled into a relatively still part of the water, Sarah introduced the basics of SUP Yoga and gave us some great tips on staying upright, but also water safety tips if we end up in the drink. Getting a bit of a warm-up before going into yoga poses was seriously perfect. We flowed through poses which will be familiar to anyone who has done at least a little bit of yoga. Even if you haven’t, Sarah described things well and was easy to follow. She demonstrated everything beautifully. On a paddle board, the key seems to be to take a wider stance for balance, plant feet, and bring yourself into standing carefully and with as much control as you can muster. The balance component is really the big thing that makes this different than being on a mat on the floor. I found that it really demanded my attention and forced me to focus on moving symmetrically. Scientifically speaking, an unstable environment forces the body to provide more stability, calling upon muscles you may not use in your other workouts. What I am saying is you’ll engage your core more and that’s never a bad thing! Pretty much every time we placed our feet in warrior 1 and came up into standing, you’d hear splash of a yogi wiping out. Somehow, and I can’t tell you how on earth this happened, it wasn’t me. So, I can’t tell you if it was scary falling in or how hard it was to get back up on the board. Nobody seemed too upset though.

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Maaaaaybe the highlight of the whole thing was savasana. I have done savasana in some strange settings this summer- with goats or cats mingling around, to the smell of Fox in the Snow pastries baking, swinging from a sling of fabric hanging from the ceiling, and so on. This fitness blogging thing is too fun, you guys. Anyways, floating around in nature, sun overhead and the water below was calming and amazing as hell. Blogger babe Kim, who writes Wear Love Wanders agreed it was a highlight for her too.

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We got a pic after with Sarah, who clearly spends way more time in the sun than me

Awakening, a little reluctantly, from savasana, we paddled back to the shore where we started. I had gained some confidence by this point and channeled my inner Moana (Disney nerd, right here!!), standing and using my whole body to paddle myself back.

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And that was it! The biggest challenge, aside from me flubbing up finding the place, was just the way I kept drifting around while we doing the yoga part. It wasn’t that bad for most people, but I kept trying to capture pictures during our practice, so that is probably part of my problem. Beside that, there was the balance aspect, which definitely added to the challenge, but it wasn’t too demanding. It seemed like 50% of the class ended up in the water. It wasn’t nearly as wet of an activity than I had anticipated. I would recommend it for anyone who wants to add a layer of challenge to their yoga practice or anyone who enjoys a day outdoors and wants to try something new.

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Who puts these classes together anyway? It turns out Columbus has several options. On this particular sunny Saturday, 614 Yoga organized a fantastic event with boards by Project 908 and instruction from Sarah Solarik. I’ll share more options at a later date, but for now I want you to know you can catch her next SUP Yoga class at the same wonderful location on September 16th at noon and 1:15. The noon class is for beginners especially. I know right now you’re thinking about it. You are! But you still have some questions. Let’s see if I can help.

I’m going to wrap up with a few details I want to pass along:

  1. I asked around what to wear, and everyone said “anything really.” I imagined myself in the water way more than I really was, so I went shopping and bought a sporty swimsuit at JCrew. I was the only one in a swimsuit. Next time, I will probably go with a swim top and cropped quick dry yoga pants. Athletic shorts also seem like a wise choice. A sports bra +/- a top would he fine too. I am not going full swimsuit again.
  2. Follow up to #1, I am so effing proud of myself for posting pictures of myself in a swimsuit for you all to see. My body is not perfect. It has grown 2 babies. It is strong. There are parts I like. But also, I am a mom. I am pale. I have things I wish were different. I am not about to go cry about it, but I really will put on some damn pants next time.
  3. You may want pictures of this. Don’t spend a bunch of money, and don’t drag your phone or camera out there either. Unless, of course, you waterproof it. My husband found this puppy and it was totally perfect and cheap.
  4. Do it with a friend. Go alone. It doesn’t matter. You will have a great time and you’ll want to go back for sure.
  5. Don’t hesitate to try things you may love. You owe it to yourself.

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