I have a confession to make.
As yogis go, my lean is far more Berra than Buddha.
But with the calendar’s recent turn to January – the most buoyant of months – all seems possible. And as part of an annual list of resolutions intended to get me closer than I appear to that healthy dot in the rear-view mirror, I’ve added a bullet point to incorporate adventure as part of the process.
Problem is, beyond the prospect of grappling with a swamp-dwelling alligator, Florida’s not exactly bursting at the seams with extreme exercise opportunities. We’ve got no mountains to ascend, no glaciers to climb and no rapids to conquer. So, in the absence of those – or unless your preferred way of breaking a sweat is cutting the line at a Sanibel parking kiosk – you’ve got to think outside the box.
Toward that end, allow me to present stand-up paddleboard yoga.
The blending of standing up, paddle-boarding and, well… yoga, is available to Tween Waters Inn guests twice weekly thanks to the spiritually nimble Yali Zawada, a comely Colombian lass who mastered the ancient art through her globe-trotting studies at the Nosara Yoga Institute in Costa Rica, the Foundation of Pathanjala Yoga Kendra in India and Bala Vinyasa Yoga, just down the road in Naples.
She is the bender/stretcher-in-chief at Ambu Yoga, and graciously offers two chances per week – Wednesday and Saturday mornings from 10 to 11:30 a.m., to be specific – for experienced practitioners to perfect their technique alongside knock-kneed newcomers plunging red-faced into the Gulf.
Still, while I’m as much for the pre-session promises of physical empowerment, emotional balance and deep respect for nature as the next guy, I’ll concede here that my maiden voyage had me thinking far more about finding ways to avoid flailing with sharks than it did with finding my spiritual center.
As it turned out, my worry was blissfully unnecessary.
Because I’d never previously set foot on a paddleboard, I was delighted to discover that while they’re not quite kayaks, they are bigger than surfboards and remain stable enough to maintain themselves even under the haphazard captaincy of a jittery New York-born 45-year-old.
Kneeling and paddling were a relative cinch, and, though my wobbly transition from there to standing won’t earn a spot on anyone’s SUP fantasy team, the idea that I did so without becoming aquatic brunch was a huge moral win. So long as you keep your feet spaced and your weight distributed, the rest, for a newbie, is pretty much academic. Staying steady equals staying dry.
Of course, I won’t pretend my weaves from warrior to eagle to sun salute were as all-in as they could have been – considering my terror about what may have been swimming nearby – but if you ever need a savasana wingman, gimme a call. I’ll pose with you.