Stand Up Paddle Boarding: Restore Balance and Deepen Your Yoga Practice

Written by Tamara Jacobi

Looking to deepen your yoga practice and restore balance to your life? You might want to consider stand up paddle boarding as gateway to tapping into the essence of balance and yoga wisdom—both on and off the water. As an athlete, an endorphin junkie, and a glutton for new challenges I was attracted to stand up paddle boarding several years ago. When I rode my first wave on the paddleboard I knew I was in love. What I didn’t know was that paddle boarding would actually teach me the art of balance and lead me to a yogic epiphany that influences every aspect of my life.

As I step onto my board and glide out onto the glassy water I catch a glimpse of the magic of walking on water. My body, my mind, my board and the water are united as one— a harmony of energy, tranquility and delight. The muscles of my body are alive and engaged, yet calm, as I tap into the essence of physical balance. My focus on balancing my body lures my mind into a gentle meditation. My hurries, worries and stresses are forgotten (there is no stresspassing here!). Whether I’m paddling to catch a wave or simply floating on my board, I’m completely captivated by the moment and every cell in my body is alive and glowing.

I’m delighted to realize that stand up paddle boarding intrinsically embodies much of yogic philosophy and practice. Regardless of whether or not I’m doing formal yoga poses on my board, the physical and emotional sensations on my paddleboard most definitely parallel my experience on the yoga mat.

In fact, paddle boarding has actually allowed me to tap into a beautiful and deeper yoga practice that extends beyond simple yoga poses. I’ve been doing yoga for years, but paddle boarding has really pushed my practice to a new level; teaching me to reconnect with my body, my mind and the world around me—paddle boarding is truly a catalyst for mindfulness and presence. From the thrill of riding glassy waves, to simply resting on my board in savasana, paddle boarding keeps me challenged and inspired, yet also keeps me balanced in my life and striving towards harmony. Even when I step off my board and onto shore, I carry a renewed sense of balance and yogic/paddleboard wisdom with me. The balance, inspiration and challenge of my paddleboard have become a metaphor for my life.

So, have you tried paddle boarding yet? Clearly, stand up paddle boarding has become and essential part of my holistic nourishment equation and I highly recommend that you give it a try! The summer here and paddleboards are plentiful! Be sure to seek them out at your local body of water, whether it be a river, lake or ocean.

Here are some simple tips to get you started with embracing paddle boarding and tapping into the essence of balance.

  • Pick a calm day. Wind can really make or break the paddle boarding experience. Calm water is definitely the way to go.
  • Get started on a nice big board!  A big board will allow you to find your balance much more quickly.
  • Be sure you have a lightweight paddle. A heavy paddle will burn you out fast, whereas a light paddle can make paddle boarding feel effortless and tone your muscles instead of build them.
  • Try on flat water first. A lake or a protected bay in the ocean is a good place to start. If you’re ambitious, you can work up to waves and moving water eventually.
  • Once you launch, begin on your knees and then transition to your feet as you tune into your balance.  Find your balance point on the board.
  • Paddle around slowly. Practice turning your board and paddling on each side. Get comfortable with the movement of the water under your board.
  • Try out a couple of simple yoga poses! Downward dog, upward dog, cat cow pose and savasana are some of my favorites. Keep it simple as you get started.
  • Next steps? It’s up to you! You can either stick with flat water paddling or maybe take a paddleboard yoga class.  You might even try riding some waves!

Ready to get started with adding balance to your life? It all starts with understanding your unique body. Check out my free guide to start listening to your unique body.

Ready to learn more about how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE web class with nutrition expert Kelly LeVeque.

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