There must be all sorts of ways Raglanites start their day, from a cup of tea or coffee to a “dawnie” surf, but yoga on a paddleboard has to rank as among the most unusual.
Indeed, when I was invited by local venture Raglan Paddleboard to join in a session last Friday morning I naively thought we’d be doing a few yoga poses ashore before going for a brief paddleboard in the harbour.
But no, as others I talked to rightly suspected this was a combination of the increasingly popular water sport and the ancient discipline — and the fact I’ve rarely done yoga and never stand up paddleboarding (SUP) made me nervous I’d topple into the water or some way else make a prat of myself.
But there’s safety in numbers, so they say, and eight of us — all women — set out into the thankfully still waters of the estuary from Kopua boat ramp at 7am. I hoped onlookers didn’t notice I was the only one paddling on my knees.
SUP yoga teacher Laurie Carpenter led the way for this, the trial session. She and Justine Quarrell of Raglan Paddleboard had been out there in the estuary practising for the past fortnight and reckoned they’d attracted a bit of interest.
“It’s new to me as well,” confessed Laurie, who’s more familiar with having her feet firmly on the ground teaching body balance at Te Mata Hall and Raglan Gym through a mix of yoga, tai chi and pilates.
She’d been unable to resist Justine’s “random” email, however, suggesting yoga on a paddleboard could catch on in Raglan as it apparently has in Auckland.
So there we were — lifebelts attached, Waikato Regional Council would have been pleased to know — stretching and balancing on knees, bottoms and feet as our paddleboards drifted slightly back towards shore in the cool morning air.
“Squeeze your butt cheeks,” was what one intrigued onlooker apparently heard from shore as we valiantly embraced the ancient art of yoga on our sometimes wobbly boards.
For the record we did the cobra, plank and Hindi squat, the down dog, bridge and — fittingly — boat poses.
An hour later we happily paddleboarded back to shore, and with renewed confidence I was on my feet rather than my knees.
The consensus was that, yes, SUP yoga was a bit of a challenge but worth the effort given the sensation of floating in beautiful surrounds.
“It’s a lot more challenging than doing yoga on land,” Laurie confirmed. “The slight instability on the board surprised me. But you can also feel the core muscles working a helluva lot more.”
My sore muscles the next day were testament to that. It certainly takes a reasonable amount of strength and flexibility to balance and hold postures on fluid water.
Celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson may indeed be sampling SUP yoga, and it’s the craze of the moment in Florida by all accounts, but I think I’ll stick to tea and toast in bed. Standing up’s unnecessary for that, and a spill’s less likely.
*Raglanites keen to give it a go can do so on Fridays at 7am and Wednesdays at 6pm. Phone 825 0507 or 021 1341 686 for bookings.