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Balancing In Yoga Just Got Harder

Margaux Farrell |
October 17, 2014 | 6:20 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Indo Yoga Board Class (Margaux Farrell/Neon Tommy)
Indo Yoga Board Class (Margaux Farrell/Neon Tommy)
As if trying to balance and stretch in the many postures of yoga was not challenging enough on stable ground, imagine doing it on a surface that moves.

That is where stand up paddleboard (SUP) yoga comes in. SUP yoga is exactly what it sounds like; yoga done on a paddleboard on water.

As crazy as that all sounds, it has become increasingly popular in recent years.

Classic SUP yoga, however, requires a few additional things to make a session successful, limiting its accessability. Traditionally, a paddleboard, water and good weather are needed.

That was true until Hunter Joslin came along. Joslin, a lifelong surfer and longtime yogi, created the indo yoga board, a wobble board used indoors that simulates the sensation of being on water.

The board by itself has a slight sense of instability, but adding Joslin’s indo yoga cushions underneath increases the degree of difficulty. The cushions create an unstable surface, which feels like being on water. 

Joslin says balance is what distinguishes this yoga from other practices.

“Not to say [balance is] not important in a traditional yoga practice,” said Joslin. “But your mind can wander because you are not forced to focus. Whereas anything done on an unstable foundation requires much more mental attention to what you’re doing.”

Yoga instructor Kate Matarese has been teaching yoga for four years, and two months ago started teaching indo yoga board classes. Matarese agrees that the surface of the board helps her to be mindful. 

Yoga Instructor Kate Matarese (Margaux Farrell/Neon Tommy)
Yoga Instructor Kate Matarese (Margaux Farrell/Neon Tommy)

“It keeps you present,” said Matarese. “When I first got on the board it was like I was a kid again in yoga. It brought me right back to the beginning and I had to focus on everything.” 

An added benefit to doing yoga on the indo yoga board is added flexibility. Moving the board in certain way allows yogis to achieve different postures that they might not be able to get into on a mat.  

This type of yoga is not for the faint of heart. Though the board can be customized to your level, it still requires a heightened level of awareness. Having tried a class myself, I caution others, as I landed on my face and rear-end more than once.

Take it slow, and be patient. Those sentiments are true for all types of yoga, but especially so for SUP yoga. 

Those looking for a faster paced yoga would probably prefer traditional mat yoga. If you are looking to change things up and do not mind going back to the basics, however, then I recommend giving this a try.

The indo yoga board and cushions are available for purchase online, and there are several classes in studios across the country.  Additionally, there are online tutorials and classes for in-home practice.

“We really haven’t reinvented yoga,” said Joslin. “We would like to have people think about this as a new yoga mat, and this yoga mat just happens to move.”

Reach Staff Reporter Margaux Farrell here or follow her on Twitter here.



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