“SUP?” (Road Trip Part IV)

Life is limitless, and knowing this is what the spirit is.” -Macklemore

My mom, Mary and I arrived at the beach for paddle board yoga just before 7AM. I was ecstatic, pee-your-pants, Deathly-Hallows-midnight-premiere levels of excited. (Most pivotal moments of my life thus far, in descending order: birth of my sister, receiving my pre-ordered copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, moving into college. So this was pretty damn exciting.) The sun had just begun to rise over the expanse of green trees at the other side of the pond; a gentle breeze made tiny ripples in the stunningly blue water; a neat row of colorful boards awaited us at the pond’s edge, complete with anchors, paddles, and optional life vests. I was pretty sure we’d just found heaven.

“SUP,” or Stand-Up Paddleboard Yoga, had been a source of intrigue for my mom and me ever since we subscribed to the Athleta catalogue. Not to mention the second I found out about the catchy acronym I wanted to find a paddle board yoga instructor and ask, “hey, what’s SUP?” (Anyone? Anyone?) The aura of mystery and grace surrounding SUP yoga was both intimidating and attractive. My mom, Mary and I felt absolutely confident in two things: 1) the practice would be magical, and 2) we were going to suck at it.

An impressively athletic-looking woman pulled up to the beach a few minutes after we did. We all openly stared at her as she got out of her car and started walking over to the pond.

“Yup, she’s toned,” Mary observed. “We’re done for, ladies.” My mom and I nodded in grim agreement. It was clear we were out of our league.

But the sun was shining, the pond beckoned, and our awesome instructor Amy assured us that most of her clientele signed up for class with no prior paddle boarding experience. So when she said the word, we grabbed our boards, sat squarely on our knees, and began to paddle out on the water.

The board was far more stable than I had imagined it would be; after just a few minutes of practice on my feet I could comfortably rock from side to side, shifting weight from one foot to the other. I paddled like Amy had instructed us to, driving the blade straight down into the water and smoothly pushing it back to propel myself forward. The landscape sprawled out in front of me like a painting, calm and unassuming in the quiet morning air. I listened to the lapping of the water against my board. I hummed a little tune. I imagined hitting pause on the world outside the pond, stretching out that gorgeous, peaceful moment so I could live in it for a few eternities. A few minutes later we dropped our anchors to begin practice.

To our complete surprise, we really didn’t suck that badly. The yoga practice itself was relatively mellow, with your basic sun salutations and victorious breath through the nose. My personal favorite was downward facing dog; I let my head hang and looked back between my legs to find the same stunning beauty of the picturesque pond, but upside down. The water became the sky. The trees along the opposite bank were growing downward. My first thought was that the view was breathtaking; my second thought was that Mary’s board was floating directly behind my mom’s, and with the kind of hip-raising that the pose called for, her head was probably painfully close to my mom’s butt. I chuckled to myself and really hoped that was the case.

There were a few points at which I could’ve easily tumbled off the board and into the cool blue water, but somehow, I didn’t.  The instructor laughed at my mom as she kept wheeling her head around to look at Mary.

“I can’t see you back there!” my mom exclaimed.

“That’s the point!” Mary answered contentedly. All three of us somehow managed to stay comfortably upright all the way through practice and the leisurely journey back to shore. And, as if that wasn’t enough, the wonderfully toned woman turned out to be one of the friendliest people we’d met all week. (On the car ride home, my mom still noted with a smile, “you know, she was strong, but she really wasn’t that flexible. Definitely not as flexible as us.”)

We decided SUP yoga was by far our favorite practice of the trip; our favorite practice of our entire lives, really. Mary admitted that yes, she had been uncomfortably close to my mom’s backside, and despite whatever trauma that might’ve caused, she had enjoyed the practice so much that she planned to sign up again for next week. Somehow SUP yoga had managed to live up to our gargantuan expectations. Short of finally receiving my letter from Hogwarts, I can’t think of many experiences more magical than a morning of yoga on the water.

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Athleta, call me

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posin’ with Amy and paddle boards

4 days, 4 yoga practices, 3 beaches, new opportunities and old friends. Thank you so much to all our hosts who let us mooch so shamelessly, we couldn’t have done any of this without you. Thank you devoted readers, all twelve of you, for following along with our yoga adventure. And Mom, thanks for not killing me in my sleep even though I made fun of you on the Internet for four days in a row; goodness knows you had plenty of opportunities. You’re my favorite lunatic.

See you back here next Monday, my friends.

Namaste,
Hannah

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Marcia Imbrescia
    Jul 20, 2013 @ 15:20:39

    Sounds awesome – great experiences, perfect 4 day road trip. Happy for you.

    Reply

  2. Mary Lane
    Jul 21, 2013 @ 16:42:45

    Your writing so beautifully and humorously captured the experience not an easy feat ,

    Reply

  3. Donna
    Jul 24, 2013 @ 01:58:04

    Just read your entire blog. Could not stop once I started. You are such a talented writer and you completely crack me up! So glad you enjoyed your challenge. Makes me want to try yoga.

    Reply

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