It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon at Strouds Run State Park and the breeze was blowing in short gusts over the water at Dow Lake. I was here to meet with two instructors, Michelle Stobart and Brenna Duke, from Inhale Yoga Studio in Athens so they could give me an introduction to Fluid Yoga SUP, also known as Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) Yoga.
Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga first started in Rishikesh, India and then gained popularity in places such as Hawaii and along the West Coast before coming to the East Coast of the U.S. Inhale has been offering Fluid Yoga SUP lessons for three summers now and have been seeing an increase in individuals looking for a change of scenery for their normal yoga lessons.
Four summers ago Michelle started to research the idea of Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga and the rest is history.
“I started to explore this new idea and we bought the first bit of our Inhale fleet,” Michelle said. “That summer we started to practice on the lake and see how to do yoga on a board. It was very different. The first summer I started I spent it learning and taking my teachers out and seeing what they thought about it. This is a great way to be outdoors and connect with nature and bring yoga into a more expansive place.”
If you’ve taken a traditional indoor yoga class chances are you’ll enjoy the new aspect and challenge of the SUP class. A paddleboard resembles a surfboard and is three feet wide and a little over 10 feet long. A SUP has a deck pad similar to a yoga mat, so your feet can grip the board for poses and as you paddle through the water. A typical class involves a paddleboard instruction and orientation, a quick paddle out to the yoga location on Dow Lake, fluid yoga class instruction, savasana (which is a time of total relaxation and meditation) and then a short paddle back to the boat dock.
“It wouldn’t be a bad idea for someone to have some prior knowledge of yoga, however, the class moves slow enough that anyone can take this class,” Michelle said. “We have to make slow modifications and adjustments on the boards anyway because of the movements of the boards on the water. Of course we are open to welcoming anyone and we can always adjust the poses and the class based on the students.”
The best thing about Fluid Yoga SUP is that no class is exactly the same and that Mother Nature is always here to keep you mindful during your journey. Both instructors shared with me some of their favorite moments and lessons from the lake.
“One of the most memorable moments for me out here was when we were moving into the rest and relaxation part of a class,” Michelle said. “There are a lot of Canada Geese out here at the park which are often a nuisance on land because they poop everywhere, but this was a moment of appreciation. We were out on the middle of the lake and were in our restoration pose on our boards. They were flying low, about 10 or 12 feet above us and you could hear the sound of their wings. It was the most amazing sound of their wings passing through the air. It was one of those times to pause and draw you deeply present. It was an incredible moment out on the paddleboards.”
Something that many people probably worry about when considering taking a Fluid Yoga SUP class is what to do if they fall into the water? Instructor Brenna Duke says that is one of her favorite moments of any class when she is out on the lake, because she sees it as a teaching moment as well as something that is fun to do when the temperature is scorching hot!
“My most surprising thing out here is that we are always in the mindset of ‘Don’t fail, don’t fall in, don’t do this, don’t do that!’,” Brenna said. “I find it so refreshing to fall in, it is so fun, it feels so good, and it’s just like a little reset. Falling in tells us that ‘It’s ok to not do it perfect and to make a mistake’ and then you get back up on your board.”
The typical season for Inhale Yoga’s Fluid Yoga SUP lessons runs from the weekend after Memorial Day to Labor Day. Due to limited class space and paddleboard fleet registrations are required in advance for Fluid Yoga SUP lessons, however private lessons can also be arranged by contacting Inhale Yoga Studio. This year Inhale Yoga Studio is thinking about extending their Fluid Yoga SUP season past Labor Day, so be sure to check their Facebook Page for up-to-date information on additional class offerings!
For more information on Inhale Yoga Studio Fluid Yoga SUP classes and to register, visit their website!