Walking on Water: Part 2

“The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on the water; but to walk on the earth.” – Chinese Proverb

You may remember last week’s account of a very fun (but also very wet!) tour of Hampton Beach State Park from the vantage of a stand-up paddleboard. After an hour on the board I was just beginning to find a balance. Would it be enough to carry me through a paddleboarding yoga class?

I was, admittedly, a little nervous when I arrived at Rye Harbor on a cloudy Sunday. I couldn’t help but note that the water felt very cold so early in the morning. I wondered if the sounds of me falling in and splashing about desperately to regain the board would be a disturbance to meditating class members.

“You’ll be fine!” said Pancha Yoga instructor and founder Shauna Fraser very reassuringly, “we almost never have people fall in.”

Great, I thought. So I’ll be cold and I’ll be setting a new precedent.

Shauna, who’s resume includes studying yoga in Goa, India, began teaching the creative fusion of yoga and paddleboarding in New Hampshire just this past spring.

We began our class by filling our anchors with rocks from the beach while we waited for our boards to arrive. When the Cinnamon Rainbows surf shop van pulled up to the harbor, we unloaded and carried our boards down to the water.

“Okay, so this is it!” I thought as I gently pushed a bright, Jamaican-flag colored board into the lightly lapping waves…

It was only about half way around our warmup circle of the harbor that I realized I hadn’t been thinking about anything but how beautiful, even on such a cloudy day, the harbor looked in the morning. The sun was still very low in the sky and the birds, many different kinds of gulls and cormorants, were just beginning to awaken. I had a warm breeze in my face and just the rhythmic sound of the paddle to keep time.

We arrived at an inlet and then arranged ourselves (this took me a few passes before I could land the board in the right spot) for class. We were like an armada of paddleboards aimed at the mouth of the harbor.

Shauna then led us through a few sun salutations, and I found that many of the poses that come easily to me on dry land became a whole different experience in the water. It took a few moments to test how the paddleboard would respond to the pressure of my hands and feet, but then I adapted instinctively. And I began to enjoy the light rocking sensation of the waves beneath me while I held Utkatasana and Anjaneyasana. Lying on my back in the final relaxation pose of the class, listening to the birds calling overhead and the ships preparing for their morning departure, was definitely the best part.

Paddleboarding and yoga. It’s like peanut butter and chocolate. They compliment one another so well. I have to say this is the coolest thing I’ve done all summer. I can’t wait to try it again.

Also, I didn’t fall in.

If you’re interested in having your own paddleboard yoga experience, contact Pancha Yoga on the New Hampshire seacoast. There are group classes currently scheduled on Thursday and Sunday mornings, in addition to a group paddleboard workout on Saturdays.

Corpse Pose on PaddleboardsSpecial thanks to Shauna of Pancha Yoga for her enthusiasm and encouragement, and for donating the paddleboard rental and yoga class.


Jackie Raiford, New Hampshire State Parks Intern

I'm a graduate student working towards my Masters in Conservation Biology at Antioch University New England. My research interests include the conservation of urban green spaces for the physical and psychological health of communities. I lived for the first 24 years of my life in Rockville, Maryland just north of Washington D.C. I have traveled a little both domestically and abroad, and lived for six months in Australia. I also work as a dance and fitness instructor, and am certified by the American Council on Exercise.

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