Stand up paddle Chicago is a phrase that is quickly gaining in popularity. Over the past few years the sport of stand up paddle boarding has grown significantly and now people are throwing yoga into the mix. We tracked down one of our favorite sup Yoga instructors in Chicago to get the details on this fun combination.
1. What is SUP Yoga?
Paddleboarding offers an amazing full body workout and is becoming a favorite cross-training activity for skiers, snowboarders or anyone looking for a new outdoor workout. Paddling on a SUP provides a great cardio and core body workout – but adding yoga adds another dimension to the sport. SUPYoga is basically as it sounds, yoga postures practiced on a stand up paddleboard. The paddleboard makes a perfect yoga mat, it’s wide, stable and challenging – yet suitable for all levels. Beginners included!
2. What is your background with Yoga and how did Stand Up Paddle come into the picture?
I’ve been a Yoga instructor for more than 6 years and a Yoga practitioner for more than a decade. It’s a lifelong practice and one that never stops giving. I chose to teach because I wanted to give that gift back and watch it spread and grow.
It was inevitable I’d start teaching Yoga on a paddleboard. I had already been leading Kayak and Yoga excursions and trips and felt that strong connection Yoga had with paddling. As a paddler, and being either on a kayak or paddleboard, there’s an intimate connection with nature in its purest form. Yoga, to me, is a fluid practice, always moving always flowing, and bringing that practice on a paddleboard felt like I had come home. The best thing is you don’t have to be a lifelong Yogi to discover that – once you get on a paddleboard you’ll see.
3. What should people know about SUP yoga in Chicago and what experience level is required before signing up for a class?
Generally if you’re comfortable with getting a little wet and don’t mind the water, you’ll do great on a paddle board your first time. We always wear PFDs (personal flotation devices) so it’s very safe. We’re also always tethered to our boards with an ankle leash. But what really makes the sport so great? Its ease of use – if you can stand up, you can paddle. Unlike surfing, SUP is very easy to learn, you can be on the water and on your way to adventure in well under an hour.
4. Why take Yoga out on the water with a stand up paddle board?
So close to home are a myriad of beautiful and accessible rivers and lakes waiting to be explored. Paddling in our calm waterways promote a sense of peace. The practice of yoga offers many benefits, from increased flexibility and strength to a deeper connection with the natural beauty around us. It is therefore a natural fit to combine paddling with yoga. My knowledge as a yoga instructor and paddling skills combine to foster a higher awareness of all muscles involved during paddling, developing strength, poise and a more centered approach to the whole paddling experience.
5. How do people in get involved with stand up paddle in Chicago or learn more about your classes?
Check out my website, www.ChicagoSUPYoga.com for more info. Every summer you can find me at Kayak Chicago’s Montrose beach location on lake Michigan. Classes are every Sunday morning until September. I also teach both Kayak & Yoga and SUP Yoga classes throughout Chicagoland, its surrounding suburbs, and into Wisconsin.
Mary Lou teaches Yoga classes every week at Shanti Yoga studio at 7646 W Touhy and Ganesha Yoga at 3113 N Lincoln in Chicago.