Yoga finds a place on the water

cliddy@newsobserver.comAugust 13, 2012 

Yoga is a practice thousands of years old. Longboard surfing is hundreds of years old.

Combine the two and you have an emerging new exercise: Paddleboard yoga also known as Stand Up Paddle (SUP) yoga is here.

Heather Moore, a 31-year-old entrepreneur yoga instructor living in Fuquay-Varina, decided to start up the first classes in the Triangle area.

“I did a little research and found out there was no offerings in the area for paddleboard yoga,” she said.

So she went out and purchased some paddle boards, a trailer and her business was born. This summer she had more than 50 enthusiasts of all skill levels join her at Jordan Lake to try it out in the 90-minute class sessions.

“People love the simplicity of it. You just need a board and a paddle, and of course, water,” she said. “You can go out for a leisurely paddle, or you can ramp it up and make it an intense workout. It’s an all-ages sport.”

Participants paddle out to a position on the lake, giving them the low-impact conditioning of stand-up paddle boarding, then challenge their balance through yoga moves on the board and meditate while they float.

Moore’s most recent class featured a yoga instructor along with three novice enthusiasts, including Monica Crowley, 64, who hails from New York City.

“I loved the paddle boarding itself, yoga is not really my thing, but it’s easier than standing on the subway,” she said. “I would certainly recommend it to anyone.”

Rachel Moninger, 27, a yoga instructor from Chapel Hill, thought it was a great workout.

“You have to make your movements much slower on the board, which is a good thing,” Moninger said. “It was especially hard to do standing poses, the seated ones not so much, but standing required much more attention.”

And if that attention wasn’t there, the movement usually ended with a large splash into the lake.

Moore, who is also a land-based yoga instructor, echoed Moninger’s comments. “The slightest movement makes the board unstable, so you have to work a lot harder to compensate. It really challenges your balance and strength, and intensifies your yoga practice like nothing else I’ve experienced. It really is yoga that rocks,” she said.

Moore is getting ready to move out of state to attend graduate school. She thinks there’s a market for the emerging hybrid sport here in the Triangle.

When she departs, the nearest SUP Yoga classes are in the Wilmington area.

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