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Yoga on the Water

    By Joanna Georgiev. November 12, 2013 - 3:05 pm

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Floating in the middle of Duke’s salt water lagoon at the Hilton Hawaii Village, the sun kisses my shoulders as I gently rock side to side and drift to the calm current of the water. I look around me and am in awe with views of Diamond Head and Waikiki. Pure bliss.

For a moment it feels like I am walking on water. There I was on a paddleboard doing a full-length yoga class.

I am not new to yoga or meditation but am far from a seasoned yogi. Let’s just say my earth-bound yoga routine was getting a little stale.

When I first heard about stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga I was fascinated because I love the water. Let me tell you, soaking up the vitamin D and enjoying the natural landscape beats being in a hot sticky studio or gym anyway!

Mary Reeds, a former collegiate athlete at UH Manoa pioneered this recent program through Waikiki Beach Activities, the Hilton Hawaiian Village’s beach service. Eager to share her two favorite passions, she created a zen-centered yoga on the water program.

The boards are made specifically for stability and comfort while doing yoga, and practicing on water adds a whole new element of core strength and focus.

“The natural elements of water and wind elevate the practice of combining mind, body and breathe to a whole new level,” said Reeds.  “Living here in Hawaii, with the most gorgeous natural landscape and weather amplify that experience.”

During the lesson, Reeds explained each of the moves and provided modifications. Hey, there was no way I was doing the headstands, at least not just yet!

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The gentle lapping of the water on my paddleboard allowed me to relax and focus on my breathing, which is the most essential aspect of yoga. The clear water helped quiet my thoughts, brush them aside and temporarily alleviated the weights on my shoulders and heart with life’s distractions.

Although I managed to stay above the water, my body was yearning for a swim after the intense core workout. In our final pose I lay on the board floating with my hands skimming through the cool water.

For the 90-minute lesson I was at ease and I felt in the moment.

HPU alumnus Sarah Miller was also taking the class and was a great sport. She lost her balance and fell in a few times, only to climb back up on her board with a smile and try her pose again.

“If I fall in, it’s OK, it’s only water,” she said. “There is a certain playfulness about it, it can’t hurt me, it just encourages me to get back and try the position again.”

Reeds explained that the health benefits and simplicity of SUP and yoga make them a perfect match.

“Yoga is a workout inside and out, restoring all 10 systems of the body while also improving flexibility, balance and strength,” she explained. “Yoga teaches us to tune in to ourselves, connecting our mind, body and breathe.”yoga_3

This activity kept me on my toes. I walked back to my car feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on the day.

Being on the water is a humbling experience, even if you started feeling like a master at yoga, you’ll be surprised at how challenging and unique yoga is on the water really is.

“As a world class athlete, I think Duke Kahanamoku would recognize all the amazing benefits of yoga and would have a regular practice,” Reeds said.  “And doing yoga on the water, well I think that would only be natural for him.”

If you would like to venture out and try something new, Reeds invites you to take her classes Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9 to 10:30 a.m. for $55.  However, if you use the word “Kalamalama” or reference this article you can partake for a special rate of $45. Hurry because this offer expires at the end of December!

It may be just what you need with finals right around the corner.

You can sign up for classes at Waikikibeachactivities.com, by calling 888-904-4088 or at any Waikiki Beach Activities Stand at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Photos courtesy of Phil Leroy.