Stand Up Paddling (SUP) is fast becoming one of the hottest outdoor sports around and it’s easy to see why. Ellie Wharton founder of Positivitea tells us what it’s all about!
All you need is a paddle, a board and a body of water and you can do it almost anywhere, it’s great for fitness (a full body workout in fact, the balancing requires engagement of all the core muscles whilst your legs get a workout and your hips are in constant rotation) and can be meditative at the same time (there’s nothing like a peaceful paddle down a quiet river to rejuvenate the spirit). So it’s no surprise that the latest craze from across the pond – SUP yoga – has hit our shores with a vengeance too. As someone up for trying anything and everything yoga (Chocolate Yoga anyone?), I couldn’t wait to have a go.
Jen Cordero of Pure Yoga Zone runs a class in the Paddington Basin during the summer months and retreats in the UK and abroad. I joined one of her classes on a crisp September afternoon as the sky was turning from a pleasant pink to a dusky purple, reflected in the calm water of the London canal. It’s a stunning location and passers-by frequently stopped to take arty photos of the crazy people pulling poses on the boards with skyscrapers rising up in silhouettes all around them.
You don’t have to be a yoga pro to join a class, Jen caters for all levels with a wonderful fusion of hatha and vinyasa flow and is a empathetic and warm teacher. Calmly she navigates her pupils from their first few wobbles to confident wheels (aka crabs) within the space of an hour. It’s not an easy feat to balance on the board whilst saluting the sun at the same time but everyone did pretty well considering. I even managed a crow and a headstand by the end of the class but promptly fell off as soon as I tried tree . . . it’s surprisingly difficult to stand on one leg on a wobbly board! Lesson learned, don’t let the ego get involved in SUP yoga, it requires respect and a certain amount of patience to become at one with the board and your practice.
However after just one class I was hooked and was quick to sign up to Jen’s retreat on Lake Wimbleball, Somerset, in October. Words can’t describe the serene beauty of the lake and coupled with the magic of SUP yoga it was an unforgettable weekend. By the end of the retreat I still hadn’t managed tree and to be honest I’m not sure I’ll be donning a wetsuit in winter to try and master it either, but it’s safe to say I’ve definitely fallen hook, line and sinker for the mind, body and soul workout that is SUP yoga and will be back on the board as soon as springtime comes around again.
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