You haven’t really experienced Shavasana until you’ve done it on a stand-up paddleboard. And if the universe cooperates with you, and the elements of the Earth align to create an exceptional day for you–the sky above is flawlessly light blue, the water below is perfectly calm, the wind mellifluous, the vibes positive–you reach the ultimate state of nirvana, or at least as close as you allow yourself to reach.
I thought it was just going to be another ordinary day. But for a busy professional like me with a demanding nine-to-five and career obligations beyond those hours, starting a Friday morning on a SUP floating with the currents of Quonochontaug Pond in Rhode Island (or “Quonnie” as Rhodies like to call it) isn’t a “normal” start to the day.
I should’ve known pulling into the sandy parking lot where water enthusiasts were unloading their equipment; Lauren O’Connell, owner of Elemental Equilibrium and the yoga instructor who would guide me to reach a nirvana state, had a high level of good energy emitting from her person I saw from the distance. Your day is only as good as the energy you surround yourself with; the energy I saw from Lauren was an indicative signal.
But it didn’t take long for me to realized that it was a day destined to start off on the right foot. Immediately, Lauren welcomed me with open arms and made me feel comfortable as we began our one-on-one SUP yoga session. Her mantra, which she applies into her practice and teachings, focuses on self-love and doing things that make you feel good about yourself, however absurd or silly it seems to others.
Admittedly in the beginning, I was a bit nervous about making a fool of myself, being an amateur SUPer and rusty yogi. Encompassed in Lauren’s energy and acceptance of her mantra, the uneasiness waned and I was on that SUP paddling like a pro and doing yoga poses as if a master of the practice!
How the 2-hour session went was like catching up with your long-lost best friend; Lauren’s style of teaching makes you feel at ease throughout your paddling and practice. She begins with a grounding warm-up (and a quick paddling lesson if this is your first time on a SUP–we skipped this part). Once she feels you are warmed up, after a little group dance on land, you get on your SUP and go on a paddling excursion across the water to take notice of the abundant natural beauty and take in all the good energies of the pond.
During the paddle, if you also give off good vibes, Lauren will inspire you with personal stories of her own; how it was through SUPing, yoga and other actions of self-love that she was able to cope and overcome her struggles, and the reason she teaches today is to pass on the love and help others overcome their struggles. Then you do a mid-paddle meditation, “merging with elemental rhythms all around you and within you” to “center, calm and connect” as a segue into your Asana yoga practice.
For the next hour, as you are now one with your SUP and have merged with all the elements around you, you begin your ascension into nirvana. With euphonious words and graceful demonstrations, Lauren guides you through your practice so that your mind is set free from all thoughts, especially those that cross it on a typical workday morning, and that your awareness is only focused on what’s happening on your SUP.
Yoga on a SUP forces you to keep your core even more engaged in order to stay balanced on the board. In your current mindstate, you feel as light as a feather being lifted by the gentle wind with every movement of each pose. What you don’t realize is that your body gets heavier as every inch of muscle strengthens with your engaged core.
Finally, to end your morning’s practice, you go into Shavasana to “release control of the breath, mind and body”. And because of the elements which have merged with you, the beauty and good energies which surround you, the universe cooperating with you–the sky above is flawlessly light blue, the water below is perfectly calm, the wind mellifluous, the vibes positive–and thanks to the teacher who guided you to a peaceful mindstate, you reach a level of nirvana that can only be comprehended by first-hand experience.
In this state, you realize that you belong in that exact moment, and that everything in your life, whether good or bad, brought you to experience that moment. You feel gratitude and utter happiness. This feeling carries on throughout your day.
Ready for a first-hand experience? SUP yoga classes with Elemental Equilibrium is $40 for groups (which includes all your equipment–a Boga Yoga SUP, paddle and PFD), or if you have your own board, $15. $50 for semi-private lessons (3-8 people, $30 with your own board) and $60 for private lessons ($40 with your own board).
Locations vary by session and itinerary varies by your or your group’s needs. Achieving nirvana not guaranteed and differs from person-to-person. For more information, to book a session with Lauren, or to find out about other services Lauren offers, visit www.EE-Yoga.com.