AW Stories of the Month
Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga at Eau Palm Beach
Story by Krista Martinelli, Photos by Monica Kallas
I have to admit that I have done yoga plenty of times, but I had never tried Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga until one wonderful Sunday at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa in Manalapan. Who knew how challenging yoga could be on a paddleboard on the ocean, instead of on a nice flat floor? If you like a challenge (and I do), if you want to really work your core muscles, and if you want to breathe in and out with the ocean, this is the place to be!
We arrived at the pool deck at Eau Palm Beach for our group SUP Yoga lessons with a warm welcome from Barbara Alfonzo, our instructor. She told us that the ocean was calm enough to proceed on this perfect Sunday morning and asked if we had ever done yoga or paddleboarding before. These are small group lessons, up to 4 people. In our group, none of us had tried paddleboarding before. Phew- so I wasn’t the only one!
First things first. We were introduced to our paddleboards. They are “Gratitude” paddleboards with a “G” on them. And we had to adjust our oars to be just a bit taller than we could reach upward with one hand. My friend Norm Gitzen, (yes, the famous sculptor), had a particularly wide “wing span,” so he set his oar to be very tall.
We also checked out what was on the board – an anchor and rope, and a life jacket. The life jacket has to be on the board, but if you are a good swimmer you do not have to wear it. Next step – how to mount your board. It’s not pretty the first time (for anyone), but you get used to it. While in the water, you just hold the opposite side of the board, flip one leg over the board and then get onto your stomach. Then you have the choice to paddle on your knees or go up all the way into a standing paddle. I highly recommend starting out on your knees if it’s your first time. In other words, the higher you get, the more likely you are to fall. The great thing about falling off is that you get cooled off by the water. So what’s the worst thing that could happen? You fall off the board into the cool ocean water. Not so bad after all.
One word of caution. I do not recommend wearing sunglasses or earrings as you set out into the ocean for paddleboarding. On my first fall into the water, I realized that I lost both my sunglasses and my earrings. Yes, the ocean swallowed them up. Luckily, neither had any sentimental value, and it was not a big deal. But yes, I do not recommend wearing anything special to you because when you fall, you just might lose it.
All of the easier yoga poses on a paddleboard are the poses lower to the surface. As our instructor Barbara explains, it’s easier for her to do a headstand on the board than it is to do Warrior 1, which is just a standing pose.
I asked Barbara what she thinks the advantages are of doing yoga on a paddleboard on the ocean. She had three good responses. First of all, “You’re in the elements. You have water, the sand, and fire – the sun.” Second, you learn to breathe in and out with the ocean, which has a resonating, powerful effect. And third, the paddleboard which gently rocks with the waves is not stable, so you have a bigger challenge when it comes to balance. Thus, you are getting a better core workout.
About our instructor Barbara Alfonzo
Barbara has been teaching yoga for five years and paddleboard yoga (SUP yoga) for one year. She is originally from Venezuela and she is very good at yoga herself. Yes, this is a photo of her, standing on her head on the paddleboard (below). She is very good with beginners because of her warm and welcoming attitude. Whether you are a newbie (like me) or an old pro, you can really learn a lot from Barbara.
Getting to the Yoga
So after finding a good spot a little deeper into the ocean, we threw down our anchors and began the yoga practice. Some of the yoga moves came easily on a paddleboard like the cat/ cow positions. Downward dog was a little harder. Again, anything where you’re rising higher up is harder on the paddleboard. The stretching was lovely out on the ocean on a beautiful morning. My friend Norman found the hip exercises to be more of a challenge, as men are generally not as flexible in that area. For me, honestly the hardest thing was any of the standing poses. When we got to the final relaxation, also known as “corpse position,” it was heavenly. Our hands and feet gently dipped into the cool water while we truly relaxed after a tough workout.
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, I love you
Our instructor Barbara ended the class in a beautiful way that I haven’t experienced before in other yoga classes. In addition to “Namaste,” she asked us to say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” and then think of someone in our lives and say, “I love you.” We repeated this three times. I found it to be a very powerful meditation.
Dr. Emoto and the Effects of Words on Water
Barbara explained the work of Dr. Masaru Emoto, who has studied water under a microscope and worked with saying different things out loud and watching the effects on the molecular structure of water as it crystallizes. I was very interested to hear that when you say “I love you,” water forms into a beautiful crystal. When you say “I hate you,” it doesn’t form an organized pattern, but looks chaotic. Check out this video on the subject, https://youtu.be/tAvzsjcBtx8 Thus, the power of words in our thoughts and when said aloud. And, as Barbara reminded us, our bodies are made up of over 60%water. So saying “I love you” to yourself has a powerful effect on your own body.
The first thing our small group decided after the class was that we can’t wait to do this again! Personally I’m going back for the Eau Spa Goddess Retreat, August 14 to 16, where there will be more Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga, as well as other yoga classes taught throughout the weekend. For more information on this special weekend, see this press release or see the Goddess Getaway event on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/events/765049903615859/
Sign up for Paddleboard Yoga – Group or Private Lessons
Through August 30, you can float through safe and effective poses in these 75-minute group sessions led by certified and experienced SUP Yoga instructors every Saturday and Sunday morning, and private lessons for individuals, partners and groups will also be available by appointment throughout the week.
Here is the Group Class pricing. Group classes are Saturday and Sunday mornings from 8:30am to 9:45am, depending on the calmness of the ocean. Please call Eau Spa to arrange your session at 561-540-4960. These sessions include 75 minutes of instruction, GRATITUDE Wellness stand-up paddleboard, paddles, safety jackets and grapnel anchors. Or call to arrange a private lesson.
- One Class $55
- Six Classes $300
- Twelve Classes $570
- Summer UnlimitedClassPass $1,100**
Call today for more information about Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga or about the upcoming Goddess Getaway weekend at Eau Palm Beach, August 14 – 16.
100 S. Ocean Blvd.