Yoga is even better on water.
Maybe it’s the sound of chirping birds, the chattering, happy voices on the nearby shore, or the lapping of gentle waves. Maybe it’s how much more challenging a downward dog or warrior pose can be when your yoga mat is actually a paddleboard. Or maybe it’s just the undeniable influence of outside (the sunshine, the sky, and all that gloriously fresh air). I suspect it’s all of these things.
Stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga isn’t new to Maine. Yoga instructors and paddleboard rental shops have teamed up to offer paddleboard yoga on the waters off coastal beaches and on calm inland lakes for the past handful of years. And that’s been wonderful. But for southern Maine folks, the options got sweeter last year when Koan Wellness opened in York.
Founded by yoga instructor Katie Johnson, Koan is a dedicated SUP yoga business (Katie has the yoga credentials AND the paddleboard trailer to prove it) offering paddleboard yoga classes on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays all summer long. (See the full schedule). There’s also special events, like the SUP & SIP on June 18.
There’s no storefront to visit – the Koan Wellness “studio” exists on the waters of the York River. And if you don’t own a paddleboard, no problem. The cost of the class ($40) includes a paddleboard, paddle, PFD, leash, and anchor (to keep you from floating away). If you do have your own board, you can take the class at a discounted rate ($25).
Classes included an hour of gentle yoga on the water (with additional time for the short paddle from York Harbor Town Dock #1 to where the class takes place, in a little nook called Barrells Millpond, just past Wiggly Bridge). And to answer the question you might be asking yourself right now: Yes, you can do paddleboard yoga even if you’ve never paddleboarded before. Or you’ve never done yoga before. Katie will give beginners all the guidance they need. (Or check out the Beginners SUP Yoga Workshop on June 25.)
And to answer the other question you might be asking yourself: Yes, it’s possible you’ll fall into the water. Experienced paddleboarders sometimes fall in. But guess what? I doesn’t hurt a bit! In fact, on those toasty summer days, you might be inclined to jump in on purpose! Getting back on the board is pretty easy and you’ll be in good hands with Katie. Even cooler, you’ll be out on the water doing something nifty and new, and that’s worth cheering.
The yoga poses are mostly low-center-of-gravity poses that kept much of your body weight close to the board (and keep you steadier). You’ll lie on your back and pull your knees to your chest or reach for the sky in a sitting position. You’ll plank and downward dog, too. (Those poses will challenge you more on the board than they do on stable ground, which is a good thing!) And yes, you’ll stand in warrior pose and impress yourself.
As with any yoga class, modifications are always an option (don’t feel comfortable lifting your hands from the board in a lunge? Then you don’t have to). There’s also always an option to push yourself, too (go ahead, try closing your eyes during mountain pose).
And before you paddle back to land, you’ll enjoy several spectacular minutes in savasana, lying on your back with your eyes closed, the warmth of the sun on your face, and the water pleasantly rocking you about. Listen for the birds and the happy chatter on the shore and remember: You’re outside. And that feels fantastic, doesn’t it?
Town Dock #1, Harris Island Road, York
Classes Saturdays, Sundays, and some weekdays, too.
$40 includes all equipment, $25 if you bring your own