I’ve been wanting to try out Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) Yoga for a couple years now. I almost had an opportunity to do so in Maui, but the instructor at the resort was ill that morning. Seeing how summer season is coming to a close in Austin, I was running out of opportunities.
SAY OM Yoga in South Austin has two classes on their schedule: Wednesday at 6:30 pm and Saturday at 9:30 am. Their business actually started with SUP Yoga before they built their studio, which I never knew before. They’ll keep offering these classes through the end of October and then take a break through winter.
My class was led by Malia, who is one of the owners of SAY OM. She’s also subbed for a prenatal class I took while pregnant with my first son, and she’ll be teaching at Wanderlust ATX this November.
There was a bit of a learning curve to get on and find my balance on the paddleboard. The boards feel like they’re made of a giant piece of styrofoam. I always thought they would be heavier, but maybe it’s because we have so many paddleboarders in Austin who make it look super easy. I wouldn’t say it’s hard, but it’s definitely not effortless either.
In the middle of the board is a little grip, and that’s where your center of gravity will be on the board. (See that hole in the dark blue part of the board? That’s it.) As an ashtangi, I am used to practicing at the front of my mat, so I really needed to adjust my feet on the board so I wouldn’t tip forward and fall off. I had a couple of really close calls!
We paddled out from the Rowing Dock, which is tucked off of Stratford Drive near Zilker Park. Rental of boards is usually $25 an hour. The class fee of $25 covered both the board and yoga, which is a pretty good deal.
After some basic instructions, we headed away from the dock toward Mopac. We did have to watch out for the rowers practicing that morning. Once we were in a clear area, Malia took us through some postures to help us get our legs underneath. As soon as you’re on your feet and standing, the board becomes a lot trickier (higher center of gravity… wee!).
Warrior 2 was what almost did me in. I found that looking out beyond my fingers really made me wobble. I had no defined drishti, and my feet were making micro-adjustments to keep balanced. I was also using a wider stance (left to right) to try to take up as much width on the board as possible, but that adds other challenges too. Then, I switched to looking at the board’s nose as my drishti and felt much more stable.
Between the little wobbles and switching sides to paddle, there’s bound to be some water on the board. Expect to get a little wet, even if you don’t fall into the water. The slick surface made my first attempt at crow impossible. My knees were sliding off my arms. Here’s my second go at it for the money shot:
The hour went by quickly, and we were back at the Rowing Dock. I think with a little more practice on a paddleboard by itself, I’ll be more comfortable and stable on it – and ready to try bigger poses. This first taste of SUP yoga was definitely fun. I can’t believe I waited so long to try it.
If you want to get in another class with SAY OM before the winter break, register on their site to sign up at: SAY OM Paddle Yoga