Floating and Yoga. Combine two of the most soulful activities you can imagine and you’ve got floating yoga (Flo-Yo) or stand up paddle board (SUP) yoga. Slightly less vigorous than land based yoga (fast position changes would land you in the ocean pretty quick), you’ll still go through all your key yoga poses and get a beautiful core work out. Not to mention, practising yoga floating a few centimetres above the ocean is one of the most soul enriching experiences you’ll ever have.
My first floating yoga class was on Hawaii’s Big Island. The class was held at sunrise in a lagoon protected from the surf by a sweep of rocks. Large, pale blue stand up paddle boards were strung with a length of rope and dumbbells to anchor them to the seabed. Lighter than I expected, it was easy to carry them under one arm into the water. We paddled out 10 or so metres to the centre of the lagoon and formed a ragged circle around the instructor.
Our class started in simple positions - kneeling and child’s poses on the board to get accustomed to the unstable surface. A whale breached just beyond the break line of the lagoon as we started the practice, and turtles swam under our boards. I promise, in this place there's no problem being mindful - there’s nowhere your mind (or body) would rather be but right here and now.
We moved to downward dog and twists and it got more challenging to stay balanced. About a quarter of people fell in, and with water above your head, there is some trick to getting swiftly back on the board, but nothing impossible.
The class lasted for around 45 minutes and before we knew it we were lying back on our boards in resting savasana pose. Trust me, you don’t know relaxation until you’re lying in corpse pose on a board, with the sea gently rocking you underneath.
The only downside to floating yoga is that it’s naturally limited to places where the weather is fine and the sea calm and waveless. I’ve pulled together a list of spots in the Asia Pacific region, so you can pack your Alexandria Main resort pjs and beach bag (on sale, with nothing over $100!) hop on a flight and get floating.
- You don’t need to be a competent swimmer to do floating yoga, but some locations are in water above your head, so you’ll need to be comfortable in the ocean in case you fall in.
- You can wear either normal yoga gear or a swimsuit, depending on which you are more comfortable doing downward dog in. Regardless of which you choose, keep fast drying as your main criteria. If you get wet early, you don’t want to spend the entire class in soaking clothes.
1. Big Island, Hawaii, USA
Classes at the Fairmont are held on selected mornings in the lagoon at 6.45am. Open to guest and non-guests, for $20 USD per class, or $150 USD for a 10 class pass.
2. Noosa, Queensland, Australia
Kat Harding is Australia’s first Stand Up Paddle Boarding instructor and has been teaching SUP classes since 2013. She offers classes and retreats on Noosa beach - one of the most gorgeous beaches in Australia because it’s north facing and therefore sheltered from the weather. Classes start up again in September in the Australian springtime. Kat also offers a weekend luxury SUP retreat, staying at a 4.5 Star resort from 20 October until 22 October 2017. The retreat includes SUP yoga plus land yoga and paddle boarding, not to mention all meals, meditation and nutrition advice. I wish I could go!!! The all inclusive retreat starts at $900 for the weekend. Click on the link for details.
Classes: $35 AUD ($27 USD) including paddle board; $20 AUD ($15 USD) if you bring your own board.
Weekend retreat: $900 AUD ($715 USD)
SUP Yoga Bali call their practice a ‘combination of yoga and the healing essence of the ocean’. Classes are held on Sanur beach, a quiet town on the south-east of Bali island. Sanur beach is shallow and usually very calm. SUP Yoga Bali offer two programs - straight SUP yoga and SUP yoga plus 30 minutes Paddle Boarding. They also offer a 5 day all inclusive retreat which includes meals, spa treatments, meditation and daily SUP yoga.
Floating Yoga 1 hour - approx $40 AUD ($35 USD)
Floating Yoga 1 hour plus 30 mins Stand Up Paddle Boarding - approx $50 AUD ($40 USD)
Rachel Brathen, aka Yoga Girl, is one of the leaders of SUP Yoga. Classes are held in waist deep water in the crystal clear Aruban ocean. Rachel also hosts retreats which sell out fast. The November 2017 is already fully booked, so you’ll need to get in quickly if you want a spot at the next one in 2018.
Classes 1 hour - $50 USD
Retreats - Check website for details
5. Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Kaizen Travel organise retreats that ‘empower women through adventure.’ They’re hosting a Manifesting in Paradise retreat in the sublimely gorgeous Aitutaki Island in the Cook Islands from 7 to 12 January 2018. The week involves SUP yoga, massage, one on one manifesting coaching sessions and so much more that I’ve run out of room to write it all. Oh, and if that doesn’t sound as though it’s enriched your soul enough, they also have a Give Back initiative where 10% of their profits to a humanitarian partner.
Retreat for 6 days and 5 nights
$3099 /shared room
$3300 own room
Check their website for all details
6. Denarau, Fiji
If your speed is more 'go' than 'slow', Paddle Board Fiji’s ‘Paddle Fit’ classes might be more your thing. The board practice has some yoga, but also stretching, cardio and toning. You'll find Paddle Board Fiji in the Port Denarau Marina, adjacent to the yacht club at Nadi, Fiji.
Classes cost $50 Fiji (approx $30 AUD and $25USD) per session.
Check website for class times
7. Western Australia and Bali
Hayley Lawrence runs a series of zen retreats and classes in Albany and Denmark, idyllic sea resorts 400km south-east of Perth in Western Australia. Hayley also runs retreats up in Nusa Lembongan, Bali. She says in paddle board yoga - ‘every movement must be done with more concentration, more intent, and more purpose.’ Namaste to that. Check out Radiant Being’s website for all the details.
Aruba image from Wikimedia Commons
Aitutaki image from Wikimedia Commons
Denarua Island, Fiji image from Wikimedia Commons
Western Australia image from Wikimedia Commons
Nusa Lembongan image from Wikimedia Commons