Thursday, July 7, 2016

Stand-Up Paddleboard Yoga
on Lake Michigan

Photo by Chicago SUPYoga

Last weekend I crossed off another Chicago summer bucket list item. I have wanted to try stand-up paddleboard yoga since last summer, but I let fear and the whirlwind that was my first year in Chicago prevent me from doing it. When plans fell through for Sunday I knew this was my chance. If I didn't take advantage of a free day, then who knows when I would be able to do it again? I checked Dabble, which is a site that offers classes in tons of topics. Dabble just so happened to have a Fourth of July sale on classes, including SUP yoga. I booked it immediately.

I didn't know what to expect. Surely I would fall into the water. Would I even be able to stand?

I drove to Montrose Harbor with butterflies in my stomach. Of course, it was extremely difficult to find parking because everyone was at the beach for the holiday weekend. I drove around for 20 minutes before I found a spot almost a half mile away from the Kayak Chicago hut. I checked it right at noon, when classes was supposed to start. I dropped off my belongings and kept only what I was taking on the water: myself, a waterproof camera, a paddle and a PFD. Note: You don't really need to bring a camera because the instructor, Mary Lou, takes photos during class. I ended up not really using my own camera.

Once we all were outfitted with what we needed, we walked to the beach for an intro to paddleboarding. We all introduced ourselves and Mary Lou covered the basics of how to turn around, where to stand on the paddleboard, how to paddle, and getting onto the board from the water. We even picked our own super heroes to channel during class. (I picked Beyonce, obviously.)

I was nervous about getting into the lake because I was sure it would be freezing, but it wasn't too cold at all. We pushed our boards in and hopped on. At first I stayed on my knees to paddle before gathering the courage to try standing. I wobbled but committed to standing. It's an exhilarating feeling to stand and feel the breeze hitting your face. We paddled toward a pier, where we anchored for some yoga. We did several rounds of vinyasas to downward-facing dog. We also did forward folds (both sitting and standing) and lunges. The most daring move we did was standing splits, which can be tricky on the water. I loved every minute of it!

Savasana was spent listening to waves crash near us, putting our arms in the water and feeling the warmth of the sun. We opened our eyes to see the Chicago skyline. I was so grateful for a gorgeous day on the water.

Have you tried SUP yoga? Or just SUP? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Chicago SUPYoga can be found on Facebook. Mary Lou offers class packages that make the classes more affordable. 

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