Summer is well under way here in Europe. Kids are on school holidays, tourists are everywhere and business is slow. It is time to escape the city and get out and enjoy some of that magical sunshine for ourselves. I have just the thing to help us relax, unwind and at the same time, strengthen our bodies and minds! This month for my Fitness Road Test, I would like to introduce you to Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) Yoga!! Yes, that's right. Yoga on a paddle board!
Last month I had the pleasure of trying out SUP yoga for the very first time at the picturesque Lake Balaton in the Hungarian countryside. On a hot Tuesday morning I drove out to Siófok and met the beautiful Ami Uracs and her gorgeous dog, Pedro. I had a fantastic morning paddle boarding around Siófok and challenging my own yoga skills. It was such a different way to experience yoga and my first time practicing outdoors. If you are new to SUP, like I was, you are quickly going to see how much fun this is and how good it is for for not only body but also mind. The perfect way to spend time outdoors this summer.
What SUPyoga was like for me
I only need one word: AMAZING! First, Ami helped to acquaint me with my board, how to stand on it, how to evenly distribute my weight, how to hold my paddle and how to actually paddle. We then spent the first 30 minutes paddling along the shore of Siófok getting used to steering and balancing. I was actually quite surprised at how easy it was to balance on the board and to paddle. We then tied off the paddle boards to some buoy's and began the yoga class.
We completed a few vinyasas, some twists, balancing poses and head stands. It was sublime. I fell in a couple of times which was actually quite refreshing. Being out on the water, hearing the tiny waves lapping against my board, feeling the sunshine and breeze on my skin was pure heaven. Getting to practice yoga not only outside but also on water was incredible. It was challenging but achievable. I particularly loved seeing the shoreline of Siófok upside down while in downward dog. This was one of the highlights for me. We finished the class in savasana with our hands and feet in the water fully surrendering and opening our hearts to the sun above. We then paddled back to shore
What you can expect from a class
Ami teaches Hatha style yoga and classes are 90 minutes. All poses have modifications to help you evenly distribute your weight on the board and to challenge the muscles in your body. As with any yoga class there are modifications to suit all levels. Here is more of what you can expect from a class.
A great full body workout
As you stand and paddle out to the bouy you are engaging your core and legs to keep your balance on the board. Paddling is also a great upper body workout. During the yoga class you will engage your entire midsection to help stabilise you on the board and there is more active engagement of the arms and legs for extra support on the water.
To get wet
Yoga teaches us to let go of the need to be perfect. It teaches us to be in tune with our bodies and to discover our own amazing abilities. SUPyoga teaches us the powerful lesson of getting back up. Falling in is all part of the practice. Plus it is a great way to cool off. As Ami says, "if you fall in, you are forced to overcome the set back, climb back up on your board and try again. This is a life lesson in and of itself. Conquering the fear of falling in is essential. The quicker you become OK with falling into the water, the better you will feel and the easier it will be."
A deeper awareness of your current yoga practice
For experienced yogis, practicing SUPyoga can take your practice to the next level. You will become more in tune with your body and the poses. Balancing on water lets you know when your weight is unevenly distributed. There is a lot of refinement around technique that takes place and this knowledge can be taken back to your mat.
A unique connection with nature
You are on the water, in the sun, breathing in fresh, clean air. It is pure magic. It is also purifying for body, mind and senses.
Best of all, to have fun
Ami is a wonderful teacher with a deep knowledge of yoga and yoga principles. She weaves her personality and yoga wisdom effortlessly into her classes and helps us to not take ourselves too seriously.
Types of classes offered
Ami offers regular yoga classes on land and SUP yoga classes.
Hatha and relaxation yoga classes on land are 90 minutes. They start at 8am on weekdays and 7:30am on weekends. Classes take place next to the lake and are followed by green smoothies at the club house.
Sunset SUPyoga classes begin at 7pm and take place on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. On Friday evenings Ami offers chill out SUP tours (no yoga). This is a great way to unwind from a busy week and start our weekend.
SUPfitness is run during the day along with tours. Tours are 2-3 hours and include a stop for a light lunch. These are great for all levels including beginners.
Who SUPyoga is suitable for
SUPyoga is suitable for everyone. As with any yoga class there are variations and modifications for all poses available to those who are new to yoga or just starting out. For more experienced yogis, SUP yoga is a great way to begin to elevate your entire practice.
What to bring
Swim wear, towel, sunscreen for sure. You might also like to wear a pair of shorts. Bring an open mind and a willingness to get wet :)
Where you can join
SUP and SUPyoga is becoming increasingly popular all around the world. You can try it in lakes and even in the ocean.
Ami operates SUPport - SUPyoga and SUPfitness at Siófok in Lake Balaton, one hour outside of Budapest. She also holds SUP yoga retreats in Thailand, Miami and Mallorca annually. For more information on events, retreats and the current class timetable check out her Facebook page here.
Have you tried SUP before? Have you tried SUP yoga? What did you think? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.