Practicing yoga inside during the summer can feel kind of ridiculous. It’s so gorgeous outside, what are we doing staring at the walls of our yoga studios? But the heat outside is debilitating: we can barely remember our own names in 95+ degree weather, much less how to properly chaturanga. But where there’s a will, there’s a…water-based version of the sport to cool you down as soon as you’re done with your poses (that’s how the saying goes, right?)
We caught up with Jessica Bellofatto, an all-around inspiration: Jessica wears a lot of hats, including homebirth and natural birth advocate, doula, certified lifeguard, certified stand up paddleboard yoga instructor, and certified yoga teacher. She shared a little bit about her experiences with stand up paddleboard yoga (also called SUP yoga), and some poses you can try on your own paddleboard this summer.
Fit Nation Mag: When did you first fall in love with this practice?
Jessica Bellofatto: I fell in love with the practice of paddleboard yoga close to 7 years ago, the same summer I started paddleboarding. I was long distance paddling in the ocean, training for a few local races, and when I would stop to rest, I started playing around with yoga postures.
What skills should an aspiring stand up paddleboard yogi be adept at before trying SUP yoga?
I always just say come with an open mind, a sense of humor, and a willingness to get wet! This practice in and of itself will make you stronger, develop your balance, sculpt your core and also help to cultivate a quieter mind.
What kinds of yoga practices are typically associated with SUP yoga?
Any style of yoga can really be adapted to the board.
Can you tell us about a time on the board that has been inspiring, either as a practitioner or teacher?
I was teaching a retreat in Rincon, Puerto Rivo this past spring, and we had 15 women in the group, ranging in age from 23-72. The 72-year-old has been a yoga student of mine for 10 or more years but had never before paddled. Paddling in Rincon can be a bit challenging because although we seek out flat water, this is one of the surf capitals of the world—there are swells in the open ocean. My 72-year-old student spent the first 2-3 days of the retreat content to paddle on her knees or butt. but by the 4th day she was determined to stand up. The smile and sense of accomplishment on her face as she stood and paddled was the highlight of the retreat for me. That is what it is all about: encouraging women (and men) to go beyond what they think they are capable of—redefining themselves in the process.
Would you show us 2-3 moves in case we get inspired on our boards this summer?
Crescent Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
Step your right foot forward into a lunge position and release the back knee down. Scissor your legs together underneath you for increased stability. Rise up onto your fingertips and look at land. When and if you feel stable start to raise your arms up over your head. Breathe 5-10 breaths!
Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
From a standing position, bend the knees as the arms swing up alongside the head. Drop the thigh bones and feel the weight in your heels. Keep the tailbone heavy but not overly tucked- you should have a natural concave curve in your lower back, supported by your abdominals. Breathe 5-10 breaths and then rise up with an inhale and release the arms with an exhalation.”
Plank Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)
Stretch your legs straight back behind you, and straighten your arms, with your shoulders right over your wrists. Draw the navel towards the spine and fire up the leg muscles, hugging muscle to bone all along your legs.
Still craving the ocean? Read on…