SUP Yoga with Mr. Stiffy
I’m about as flexible as congress. To say that I am bit tight is like saying the Hindenburg was a bit flammable. With more than a bum knee and a partial drop foot, I walk – as my friends like to say – like I have a rock in my shoe. Years of walking crooked has left me a bit out of whack but I’ve always gotten by and made the best of it. However, as I near the half century mark I find some things, like getting out of bed, a bit harder to do. I’ve tried yoga a couple of times in the past 20 years and each attempt at sticking with it has been met with quick failure.
The SUP craze has become the fastest growing part of our business and I’ve taken to it like a duck to water. Combining two of my favorite passions, surfing and paddling, stand up paddling has allowed me to stay out of a kayak and paddle with my knee in a more comfortable position. SUP surfing, SUP racing and just plain SUP cruising have found a friend in Tom Meckfessel. But when someone mentioned SUP yoga I turned a deaf ear – something that my co-workers (Jeff and Scotto) say I’m very good at.
I first saw SUP Yoga being demonstrated at the Sea Trek beach in Sausalito by Leigh Claxton. Leigh is a fitness guru that has embraced stand up paddling as a great means to get in shape, improve balance, work on core strength and enjoy being on the water. We got to talking and she told me that SUP Yoga was really growing in popularity. She had already put more than 200 people through her classes at Sea Trek and lead two SUP Yoga / Touring trips in Baja. In all that time, she’d only had two people fall off when doing yoga on a SUP. Even more surprising, some people that have a hard time doing yoga on the ground have an easier time doing it on a SUP. “I know it’s really hard to believe but you just have to try it”
Now, I know that Stand Up Paddling is something that just about anyone can do and the biggest misconception is that you are going to fall off. Personally, I’ve taught countless introductory SUP classes and have only had one person take a swim (that does not include the kids classes where jumping off the board seems to be part of the curriculum). But the concept of dong yoga poses on a SUP just seemed like you were asking for a tumble into the water. Leigh convinced me that I was missing the boat if I didn’t offer SUP yoga classes so I conned my partners into buying a fleet of Surftech Bamboozle boards (a beautiful all around SUP), a trailer, 10 paddles, 10 anchors and 10 leashes and got the program going.
I figured that if I am going to talk the walk then I better walk the talk so I decided to participate as best as I could. On a beautiful Sunday morning my girlfriend Molly and I took the boards down to the Turning Basin on the Petaluma River and joined our instructor, Aluxa, and three other eager participants for Clavey’s first SUP Yoga class. It was sunny and warm and we spent an hour doing yoga on the SUPs and to be honest it was amazingly easy and very relaxing. The aspect of floating on the water while balancing during a pose was fantastic and while I’m still not a yoga groupie (and probably won’t be rushing out to buy a pair of capris and a skin tight belly shirt), I could see myself doing this a few times a week. All I can say is you just have to try it. Jeff and Scotto both know, If I can do it, anyone can do it.
-Tom “Hop-a-long” Meckfessel