Yoga with a twist at Shadow Cliffs

Stand-up paddleboard yoga challenges all levels of practitioners

How relaxing. Moving through various yoga poses all while taking deep, long breaths and staying present with my surroundings.

And did I mention this was all done while on a paddleboard in the middle of a lake at Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area?

"And deep breath, inhale in ... and exhale out."

One more time.

"And deep breath, inhale in ... and exhale out."

It was such a relaxing way to spend my morning on July 20. Moving through various yoga poses -- downward-facing dog into a plank into a child's pose.

Yes, yoga on a paddleboard -- better known as stand-up paddleboard yoga (SUP yoga).

As an ex-dancer, I'm always looking for exercise classes where I can practice my flexibility and dance technique while getting in a good workout. I've taken Zumba, yoga, pilates and 24 Hour Fitness' U-JAM class.

But going to a gym or a studio gets boring after a while, and I was looking for a change of scenery for my workout.

After searching on Yelp for a good 30 minutes, I stumbled across SupAsana East Bay's 5-star Yelp page with a picture of women in various standing yoga poses on a paddleboard in the middle of a lake.

I immediately read the reviews, and five minutes later, I was signed up for my first SUP yoga class with instructor Malia Hill.

On that Sunday morning, I arrived at the boat launching area of Shadow Cliffs and saw a man and woman laying out Boga paddleboards -- paddleboards specifically designed for SUP yoga.

One by one, people started arriving at the meeting spot. Everyone was welcoming if they noticed you were new to the class, which helped settle my nerves.

Once everyone arrived, we received a brief 30-minute paddleboard lesson from instructor Rick Carpenter. Then we picked up our paddleboard and paddle, and headed down to the boat launching area where Carpenter sent us off into the lake.

Now, coming into the class, I knew paddleboarding would be the hardest for me since I have very little arm muscles. This plus a slight wind made it difficult to paddle to our class destination, but Hill and Carpenter helped.

"Paddle on your left! Wide strokes, wide strokes!" Hill yelled.

"There you go! Keep going! Use that strength!" Carpenter yelled.

After what seemed like an hour, my board was finally aligned with the others.

Hill had us start the class with the reclining goddess, where we lay on our backs with the bottom of our feet pressed together so our knees were facing outward.

Deep breath in, deep breath out.

And again ...

Deep breath in, deep breath out.

I could feel the water peacefully moving under me, and I could hear the water gently splashing as it hit my paddleboard.

I cannot remember the last time I felt so relaxed and one with nature.

Hill took us through a variety of poses and always gave us different options based on our yoga level. She also let us know if any poses were "fall-in poses" -- meaning there is a possibility of falling into the water, which she explained happens all the time.

"Use your core. Stay present or you will fall into the water," she said.

And that's what I did -- tightened my core and focused on my breathing and what was going on around me.

Still on my board, phew.

In fact, no one fell in during the "fall-in poses." Although I wouldn't have been upset if I did since the hot Pleasanton sun was beaming down on me.

Hill took us through 15 more minutes of yoga poses, but unfortunately the winds started getting stronger and Carpenter directed us to head back to the shore for our safety.

When I had been struggling in the beginning with paddleboarding, Carpenter had told me I'd be faster when we headed back -- and he was right.

After getting back to the shore, Hill was kind enough to continue the rest of the yoga class on the grass.

She led us through various standing and balancing yoga poses -- always reminding us to do whatever level pose we are comfortable with. But if she knew you were capable of doing an advanced level, she motivated you, without pressuring you, to do it.

For example, when we practiced our headstands, I had my hands, head and feet on the floor. Hill saw I had the core strength to extend into a full headstand, and carefully guided me into my first such pose.

Even though we weren't out on the water anymore, it was still relaxing to practice yoga outside.

As Hill ended the class, she commented on how well we dealt with the wind that had thrown some of us off-course while we were paddleboarding.

"Be like that in your life," she said. "Life throws us curve balls, but don't panic. Respond, don't react."

I enjoyed my first SUP yoga class and it was a great experience -- not to mention a great workout. (I was sore for the next three days.)

The instructors were knowledgeable about their practice, and never hesitated to help if they saw someone struggling. The people, first-timers and regulars, were welcoming and friendly.

SUP yoga is one class I wouldn't mind taking over and over again.

"This life is short. Do something that invigorates you," Hill said.

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Like this comment
Posted by wondering
a resident of Stoneridge
on Aug 11, 2014 at 8:33 am

Where can we sign up? What is the fee?

Like this comment
Posted by Staff Reporter Amanda Aguilar
a resident of another community
on Aug 11, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Staff Reporter Amanda Aguilar is a registered user.


Here is their website: Web Link

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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