Pittsboro, N.C. — I lost track of how many times I fell into Jordan Lake after the fourth time. Paddle boarding and yoga are both lessons in balance, and putting them together is not only difficult but amazingly fun. Even when you can't stay upright on your board.
My journey to try out SUP (Stand Up Paddle Board) Yoga started when I found Ashley Nunn's website, Awakened Heart Sanctuary. The experienced yogi got hooked on SUP Yoga after taking a class in the Florida Keys. Less than six months later, she went back for SUP Yoga teacher training. Once I saw pics of experienced students standing on their heads on top of their paddle boards amidst the beautiful views of Jordan Lake, I knew I had to try it. Even if I knew I'd probably spend most of the time in the water.
I've taken yoga classes before, but it had been awhile since I did a chatturanga and up-dog. I had never paddle boarded when I booked this class.
Nunn's classes launch from Vista Point at Jordan Lake every Sunday morning. The class prices cover your paddle board and life jacket, so all you need to do is bring yourself - and some sunscreen.
On the day of my class, the sun was just starting to peek out from behind some clouds and the water was cool. There was a slight breeze, so it wasn't too hot. The venue was the most peaceful setting for yoga and meditation.
Getting onto the board was easy. The water was shallow, so I just sat on it and started paddling. After going in circles for a bit, I finally got the hang of paddling. Then, it was time to stand up.
The first time you stand up on a paddle board is probably the hardest and most terrifying. It is so hard to find your balance that first time. Within five minutes of being on my board, I tried to stand up and went flying off my board. My paddle went in one direction and my body went in another. Water went up my nose and clouded my eyes. I had to swim back to my board and find my paddle.
Nunn rushed over on her board and talked me through my second attempt at standing. It worked. I was upright.
Class started with us paddling to a cove and then meditating. Birds (including a bald eagle) were flying ahead. We were at one with nature. It was probably the most relaxed I've been in weeks.
We navigated through some sitting yoga poses before paddling to another spot on the lake. Then came the standing poses. Doing the warrior pose is completely different when you have to balance on a board. At first I was tentative about trying the standing warrior pose, then I just gave in. And soon hit the water again.
After that splash, I decided to give into my lack of balance and started to do yoga poses that I was clearly not capable of. And even though I was the most inexperienced person in the class, I wasn't the only person falling. Nunn fell off her board, as did almost every other person in the small class.
Falling became a badge of honor because it meant you were getting out of your comfort zone. And you got a great workout by trying to climb back on your board each time you fell off.
My more experienced classmates even did some headstands on their boards. I ended up my going into child's pose and meditating. I can't do a headstand on land, much less on a moving board.
We alternated between paddling and yoga throughout the two hour class. At the end, we spent several minutes in a guided meditation just lying on our boards.
That was probably my favorite part.
Between the views and the awesome workout, I could definitely see more SUP Yoga in my future.
Nunn's SUP Yoga classes are $40 per person. Childcare is available for $10 per child and must be booked in advance. Bring cash for parking at Vista Point - it's $7 per car. And if SUP isn't your speed, Nunn also teaches yoga on dry land.