For months, I’ve been seeing photos on social media of people doing yoga on stand-up paddleboards. It looks impressive and just a little impossible. When Jane Daly, the founder of Ebb + Flow Yoga in Washington, DC, offered to host me at one of her SUP yoga classes, I was skeptical of taking my vinyasa practice to a paddleboard. Still, I decided, I had to give SUP yoga a try — at least for the Instagram picture. I was nervous when I walked into the Key Bridge Boathouse, but I ended up having a wonderful time.
The classes at this particular floating studio, Ebb + Flow, are as the name suggests: a little bit of stand-up paddleboarding, a little bit of yoga, and a ton of fun out on the water.
“It’s pretty much the most relaxing way to be on the water and moving because you’re moving mindfully with the current, with the breeze, and with your body, and so, it’s really a nature connection thing,” Daly said. “It’s a lot about your body being out on the water and kinda feeling where you are in relation to everything that’s around you.”
SUP yoga classes can be found these days in numerous places around the country, and not just on the coasts. There are classes in Nashville, Park City, Atlanta, and beyond. What can you expect if you also decide to take your yoga practice to a floating platform? Here’s what my Ebb + Flow experience was like:
Our classes started with stand-up paddleboarding demos to help any SUP newbies in the class (like me) feel more comfortable on the water.
Once everyone was given their boards, personal floatation devices, anchors, and paddles, we were off, making our way to a small cove of calm water on Theodore Roosevelt Island.
Once we reached the cove, everyone put down their anchors and settled into child’s pose before starting the practice. As the hour passed, we flowed through a series of modified vinyasa moves including Downward Facing Dog, Warrior III and, aptly, Boat pose.
It was especially fun (and humbling!) to discover that on the water, simpler asanas, like Downward Facing Dog split, became much more challenging. Daly, who’s been teaching SUP yoga classes in DC and her native New Jersey for more than two years now, says watching people adjust to the elements is one of her favorite parts about teaching SUP yoga.
“Seeing people’s faces when they do a lunge or a pose and they’re like, ‘Yeah, I’m on a paddleboard and I’m loving this,’ and then the breeze blows and there are birds,” is a great moment, Daly said. “I think it’s like seeing when it clicks for people that this is different than anything they’ve ever done — and really relaxing and fun. ”
As I lay on my paddleboard in Savasana, listening to the chirping birds overhead, for a split second, I felt like I wasn’t in Washington, DC. Maybe it was the post-yoga endorphins. Maybe it was the calmness of the water.
Whatever it was, something about Ebb + Flow Yoga’s SUP yoga class seemed to magically melt away the stress of city living and made me forget, for a moment, that it was only Monday.
Photos by Sandi Moynihan & Jane Daly
Author’s note: This article reflects my own personal opinions. Although they gave me a complimentary class ($35 value), Ebb + Flow did not pay me to write this story.