Yoga is the practice of spiritual, mental and physical awareness on the body and opening up the chakras – energy centers – for relaxation and transformation. I’ve never attended a yoga class except online (I recommend Yoga with Adrienne) and prefer to start my day with yoga outside on my deck, with the sunrise salutation sequence followed by a few moments sitting in stillness (meditation.) Heck, just laying there in the corpse pose on the ground staring up at the clouds is pretty cool. Since I prefer yoga in nature, this adventure was high on my list.
My first official yoga class was on the water! Yoga on the lake, balancing on a paddle board. I’ve never surfed, never done SUP (Stand Up Paddling) and a friend of mine recommended I take a local class before I try SUP in Hawaii this summer. I’m glad I did because I feel like I’ll have a head start.
Check your local lakes or river centers for a mobile paddle board shop or rentals. Here in OKC, we have Flat Tide and the class I chose was taught by The Yoga Block at Lake Overholser in Bethany.
Your paddle will be adjusted for your height, your ankle cuff will keep you tethered to the board and you can start by kneeling or sitting and paddling your way out until you feel ready to stand. If you already have issues with balance and have never practiced yoga or Pilates before (or surfed), it might be more difficult for you, but by keeping your weight in the center of the board and not locking your knees, you’ll be fine. If you fall in, that’s okay. That’s part of the fun so do dress in comfortable clothes you don’t mind getting wet. I wore a sports bra with a fitted tank top over it and bikini bottoms with booty shorts. You don’t want anything to “hang out” since you are going to be upside down and in various yoga positions.
I found it took me about ten minutes to feel comfortable standing and paddling on the board, taking the oar from right to left and then two strokes of each to go faster. We paddled out to a cove and though a bridge was nearby, you can block out those sounds and preen your ear for the nature sounds, which are plentiful.
We removed our ankle cuffs and placed them around our paddles so they could float nearby and tossed our anchors in the water. We still floated around a bit, but you don’t have to be facing the teacher the whole time and you are close enough to hear her/him.
The next 45 minutes was a typical yoga class, except on the board. What I loved most was how much more aware you are of your body because of balancing on the board and feeling like you are a buoy. Unlike being on the ground, you feel both lighter but also keenly aware of your weight on the board for keeping yourself stable. Some did fall in, but if you don’t try the different moves, you might be disappointed so I say GO FOR IT.
My friend Vi did a full backbend and did fall in, but she went all the way up. I only went half-way up before I felt my board shaking too much and I came back down. I also couldn’t get fully up into Warrior pose (which is my favorite pose!) and she said it’s one of the hardest. I did get into full shoulder stand and for a second thought I would go off the back of the board, but brought my legs down in time to keep from making a splash in class.
Like most of the experience in nature, it’s hard to put it into words because the feeling is so unlike anything else. You just haven’t experienced downward facing dog until you’ve done so with the lake and the sky upside down! Even better, the sunset was gorgeous and it was such a peaceful end to the day and definitely the highlight of my week.
I expected my legs and core to hurt a bit the next day, but instead those didn’t hurt at all and my back was killing me. I felt like I’d been punched all over. The reason is you are engaging every back muscle when you are doing SUP and balancing on the board in yoga! I think it’s amazing that we get to work the muscles that rarely get used in other fitness routines, so I’ll definitely be adding a monthly SUP to my workout routine. (You can rent the boards hourly.) Note: most people do say their abs and legs hurt the next day so depending on your fitness level and how strong those areas are, that could determine how much it affects you.
By the third day, my back was feeling better and of course working out again is always my favorite way to relieve muscle tension. Just keep going! Know that you are transforming your mind, body and spirit when you go for new challenging adventures. You are strong enough and brave enough to do it.
NOTE OF THANKS: To all my new and loyal readers, thank you for reading my books this summer and visiting my blog. It means so much to me and I love to read your reviews and to hear from you! I do plan on combining Life’s a Beach and The Last Resort as a special for August through Labor Day so stay tuned for that on Kindle if you haven’t read those. Family Charms is really picking up on sales and book clubs have asked me to come talk to them about it and I’m always up for that! In person if nearby and Skype if you’re outside of my area! And Fixer Upper continues to be my number one bestseller. THANK YOU!
NOVEL PROGRESS: I’ve now reached the half-way mark on the first draft of my novel and I’ll be traveling this next week so hope to reach the end of the first draft by the time school starts. EEK! This will mean cutting out a lot of distractions in my life such as Facebook, which I’ll “hide” for a month and also paring down on Instagram, which I check at least 3 or 4 times a day and is my favorite. 😦 BUT – it will be so worth it!
As I’m also working on my “nature” essay book, Return to Wild, and am outlining a new short story collection, I feel I have to listen to my inner guide during this creative time in my life and honor it. My muse has been more active the last six months than any other time in my life so I don’t want to waste it.
EXCERPT from Work In Progress Novel (Status: 41K of 80K written)
Jake was raised by a stout older woman, Mildred, whom he calls Grams. This partial scene begins with them…
She squeezed me again and even though she’s not the crying type, I heard her sniffle and she turned away and wiped her eyes on her apron. “Now go get ready for your day. You’ve got some training to do, don’t you? And take some of this bacon to Ben. He’s looking too skinny.”
I kissed her atop the back of her head. “Will do. I love you, Grams.”
“Don’t go getting mushy on me.”
I felt numb the rest of the day, sleepwalking through even our rigorous boot camp for Tuff Enuf. Our team was getting stronger, but inside I felt weaker than ever. I let Ben shout out the exercises while I stared off into space. I felt the compulsion to…
- Grab a match and some gasoline set the obstacle course on fire
- Get stinking drunk and then have Jennifer meet me at the lake for an afternoon fuck
I opted instead to blow off some steam at the gun range, putting a few rounds into the target’s head and chest. When that didn’t do the trick to clear the cobwebs, I asked the receptionist to print something off the computer for me. I stuck the picture of the Marlboro Man on the figure and put some bullets into his smug ass smile.
“That’s more like it,” I said, and put away my guns and headed back to my truck feeling only slightly better.
There was only one fire I needed to start and that was with Jennifer.
Excerpt from Return to Wild, essays on letting go and unleashing your wild side (inner nature) based on nature as our guide. I’m 8 essays in of probably 20? I realize this sounds “out there” but I’m letting the Universe outline the book for me so whenever a message comes like a hawk did this morning on the deck, I “know” if a certain essay is supposed to be in the book. This one is on love’s limits…
Our confusion is more confounded with our fix-it-quick culture and our highly emotional natures. We’re told we just need to do X, Y and Z and we’ll be good as new! A trip to the therapist’s office, a few self-help books, maybe even a new church. Shouldn’t love be enough? Doesn’t it “fix” everything?
Amy Bloom wrote in Oprah in 2006 about love’s limits. “What I hadn’t understood, until recently, is that sometimes love is not enough. And that is the worst news-from-the-universe I have heard for some time. Love is not enough to lead depressed people to happiness…It is not enough to make people who need passion settle for companionship… Love stretches us, but time often snaps us back to our original shape. Love takes us further than we thought we could go, but it does not take us past the limits of our nature. And that is a hard thing to know.”