So, I've have been obsessing over trying SUP Yoga for so long. For those of you who might not know, SUP= Stand Up Paddleboarding + Yoga. It’s basically a yoga flow while precariously balancing on a stand up paddle board out on the water, hopefully somewhere peaceful and meditative. In my case, it was Lake Lewisville with a group of Yogis organized by City Surf Fitness. I was invited by a friend who is an instructor at their location in the Plano, TX.
It has always looked so cool to me and I’ve always wanted to try it! I jumped at the chance to give it a shot; even though it was nearing the end of the warm weather of summer, it gave me hope that I might have something to look forward to next time the temps rose!
As excited as I was, I hadn’t really put much thought into what it would actually be like until I got on the board for the 1st time. When it got closer to go-time, I started to have doubts, mostly about my own abilities. I didn’t know what to expect… “What would it feel like on the board, and how challenging would it be to me and the issues I face with my Rheumatoid Arthritis?”
The morning of the SUP event, I almost didn't go. I felt like I might be coming down with a cold and almost talked myself out of it. I woke up that day and decided that since this experience had been on my vision board for 3 years, I wasn't going to let a sore throat stop me!
As soon as I arrived at the spot so many fears started swirling through my head again. "What if I fall in the water?” OMG… I could have a hard time getting back on the board and then even started doubting if I could even swim that well anymore. I hadn’t done much swimming since I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and was full of doubts and insecurities. My hand & wrist strength wasn’t that great anymore due to the RA and even considered wearing a life jacket just in case I had issues.
Before everyone got on the boards, some of the other SUP newbies asked the teacher how likely they were to fall off... She said, "If you don't fall off, you are NOT trying hard enough."
Motivated and determined I backed myself up and wore a brace on both wrists to stabilize myself while practicing and decided I would be brave and skip the life jacket. Mustering my confidence, I jumped on my board belly down and paddled out to catch up with the group.
We hooked our surfboards to this floating line, kind of like a pool divider to keep the boards from drifting off into the water while we were busy practicing. To begin, the teacher started off doing basic poses leading us through a very familiar but foreign vinyasa flow class in this new aquatic situation.
I was, of course, being super careful. I was trying my hardest not to move too fast for fear of falling off. I was so nervous when it came time to stand up to do Tatasana, Uttanasana, & Utkatasana but I finally worked my fears out and got more comfortable with my flow on the board.
Oh but then… then she came to a point where she cued standing crescent lunge and then warrior 2. And for some reason, I got all in my own head and started getting really nervous that I would fall in again. I was being extra cautious and slow in my movements to stand up and get into those postures and not end up in the water. Finally, I told myself, "Really, what's the worst thing that could happen here? I fall in the water and then I get right back on the board? It is only water."
This immediately triggered a feeling in me that there were other areas in my life that I am subconsciously fearful of in the same way. Fear of standing all the way up, taking a firm stand or just taking that leap into the unknown.
This moment will always stick with me. Moving ahead in my life when I sense myself acting or even not acting out of fear, I hope this moment rushes back to my memory. I'll will always have this moment of clarity as a reference place. A memory to think back on and ask myself again, “What's the worst that could happen? I fail and I try again? But I will never know if I don't take that leap, right? This was such an unexpected lesson that I will forever cherish and to think I almost didn’t even go... I took the leap and gained so much.
Just in case you were wondering… I did eventually stand up into both standing crescent lunge and warrior 2. Thank you... But I did, almost fall into the water trying tree pose but caught myself on the board when I fell. So crisis averted. I survived the experience in one piece and gained an unexpected new approach on dealing with all the fears in my life.
I was truly inspired by my friend who was with me the whole way. She was next to me doing head and handstands on her board with such grace and energy. Granted, she works for City Surf Fitness as an instructor and is a total bad-ass Fashionista Yogi but it totally motivated me to want to start taking their surf yoga classes. I have to get myself prepared for next summer and my new yoga addiction. I’m feeling inspired to get more comfortable doing yoga on a surfboard so that by Summer 18’ I’ll be all ready to go for the next season of SUP.