Paddleboard Yoga (finally) hits Marathon
Blair Shiver July 18, 2012
One of my most favorite sounds is the gentle lap of water against a boat hull. The rhythmic joining of seawater and fiberglass seems most relaxing in the waning moments of a warm afternoon.
Now, there’s a way to incorporate my favorite sound with a bit of mid-week, post-work yoga practice.
Readers beware: yoga is not just a bunch of chanting and seemingly impossible stretching. And paddleboarding, a relatively new sport in the Florida Keys though it evolved from Hawaiian longboard surfing in the early 1930s, is not only for the ultra fit, trim and toned.
This week, in only her third class in the Middle Keys, certified yoga instructor Bonnie Kennedy asked her class of six newcomers who was new to yoga, and who had never been on a paddleboard.
Most raised their hands to either of the two questions.
After a quick fitting of the adjustable paddles, Kennedy quickly matched paddlers with the appropriate board based on an individual’s height.
Taller folks boarded the wider, longer boards. Short-stacks like myself carefully knelt down on the fishing platform of a boat parked behind the tentative new outpost for Kennedy’s Dragonfly Yoga and steadied ourselves on our boards.
A recent transplant from the Orlando area, Kennedy, a Georgia native, has been practicing yoga for the past 15 years. It was only recently while working as an office administrator and organization consultant that she, at the urging of a close friend, opted to get certified as an instructor.
She first began teaching on Summerland Beach before being asked to lead Bala Yoga, an active practice that focuses on building core and upper body strength while simultaneously increasing endurance with a twist of childlike exploration.
Sue Cooper at Lazy Dog kayak and paddleboard outfitters at the Hurricane Hole Marina in Key West opted to help take yoga out on the gorgeous water that surrounds our islands.
Kennedy recently earned her paddleboard yoga certification with Trish Miller and Tara McCabe, founders of Key West Paddle Yoga, and soon met Aaron Osters of Florida Keys Kiteboarding.
“I was up here looking to buy a paddleboard and met Aaron,” Kennedy explained. Osters is preparing to open an retail outfitter where he’ll be selling everything from paddleboards to Bandito Spearguns and accessories.
As we paddled out of the canal, learning how best to maneuver our boards, Kennedy paused at the end of the canal to lead a brief stretching series. Both homeowners and visitors enjoying afternoon cocktails on their porches smiled and waved, to which Kennedy encouraged with a sweet, Southern drawl, “We’ve got an extra board…y’all oughta come join us!”
We proceeded across Jack Tar Flat just off Little Venice and saw a variety of fish and rays skittering across the shallows.
Once in the middle of the flat, we gently anchored our boards by shoving our paddles into the sand and tying off our boards.
From downward dog to lunges and a modified warrior pose, Kennedy led our class through an hour of instruction that included several flow sequences or vinyasa yoga, a series of continuous movements synchronized to breath.
“If you fall, it’s ok, right?” Kennedy giggled, pointing to the warm, two feet of salty water surrounding our board. “Much better than if you fell in a traditional class on land…”
Beginners and seasoned yogis can all benefit from this paddleboard yoga experience. Kennedy offered modified poses for all skill levels as we moved through the practice.
As the sun dipped to within a few centimeters above the tree line, six yogis and their teacher relaxed into shavasana, the conclusion of a practice in which the body is able to relax and incorporate all the benefits of an hour of focused stretching and breathing. We stretched into “corpse pose” along our boards and let our hands, fingers, feet and toes dangle into the water.
I can still hear the ripple of the lapping water against the edge of my board…
To make your reservations to check out Paddleboard Yoga, call Bonnie Kennedy at (305) 879-4488 or Aaron Osters at (305) 942-9635 or visit www.dragonflyyogafloridakeys.com.