Have you ever heard that saying, “If you spend any more time in water, you’ll turn into a fish”? I’m sure we’ve all heard it from some grandparent or great aunt at some point in our lives; whether it was one summer ten years ago when you refused to get out of the pool as a kid, or if you grew up near a body of water and it was naturally a part of your everyday life. For me, it was all of the above. I grew up with a pool and the Fox River was a stone’s throw away. I remember no matter what my day consisted of I would always find time to be near water in some capacity.
For as long as I can remember water has offered healing in my life. I sought out water for play, for quiet time, or for a moment of reflection. Even as a young adult I found my confidence grew when I was near water. I am the most in-tune with myself barefoot, windblown hair, and sand between my toes. Slowly, as I grew, I started to realize this was something that was truly significant. Water had and would continue to shape my decisions, feelings, and lifestyle choices.
Fast forward to my 26 year-old self living in the heart of the bustling city of Chicago with my amazing husband; absolutely loving every bit of city and married life. Yet, every once in awhile I felt as though a part of myself was missing. For about a year I would meditate and pray on these emotions that would come and go knowing that moving to a new city and getting married was all just a major adjustment. Then, in winter of 2016, I decided to take a leap of faith and enter into a new profession; turn my hobby into a career and become a certified Yoga instructor. Through those six months of YTT I felt a breath of fresh air. It was one of the most exhilarating and moving experiences of my life.
Six months later I experienced the competitive nature of all that Chicago has to offer yoga teachers. It didn’t take long until I was right back to that anxious and unfamiliar version of myself, searching for something in this great big city. I quickly realized that what I needed most was to get back to my roots and seek out what I always knew deep inside. To find my truest self I needed to be near water. With clear direction, a little more seeking, prayer, patience, and not to mention incredible support from my other half, I found Royal Pigeon Yoga. I knew that what I had been waiting for was finally presented to me – and it was so worth the wait.
Royal Pigeon Yoga combines yoga sequencing and paddle boarding to create SUP Yoga on Lake Michigan. When I realized that it would be a possibility for me to not only be on the water every day, but to help others by teaching yoga in an atmosphere that I know offers so much more than just a “quick workout before work,” I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to teach for this amazing company. There are so many benefits to practicing yoga AND living near the water. Combining the two has created something truly beautiful. No matter what you’re searching for within your yoga practice SUP yoga will deliver.
According to an article from huffingtonpost.com (10 Reasons You Should Try Yoga on A Stand Up Paddle Board), SUP yoga offers a long list of benefits ranging from the ability to focus on your breath, refine your technique, and get an incredible workout that can burn up to 500 calories per hour! Because you’re practicing on an unstable surface, SUP Yoga requires that the core and midsection work harder resulting in deeper focus and concentration. SUP Yoga also requires you to be out on the water, which delivers a unique and exciting experience. That quiet time feeling the gentle ripples rock you side to side; getting away from distraction and noise helps to create a blissful atmosphere that will deepen your mindfulness and reawaken the soul.
We all know how I feel about water, but what about those who don’t feel a spiritual connection to the waves? According to a study done by the Peninsula College of Medicine in England (Unexpected Health Benefits of Moving to the Coast(s)), “those who live close to a body of water are healthier mentally and physically than those who live inland. Living near water promotes a healthy lifestyle, extra vitamin D, and if the water you’re breathing in happens to be a little salty, the ocean air contains negatively charged hydrogen ions that help absorb oxygen and balance out serotonin levels, resulting in more energy and diminished depression. And, we can’t forget a little something called the “Om Factor””. Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, scientist and author of “Blue Mind,” suggests that being in, near, or on water has been proven to inspire creative thinking, reduce anxiety, make you happier and more connected to yourself and others around you.
Since beginning my own SUP yoga practice, I can truly say that it has allowed me to find myself again. It has challenged me spiritually and physically and has put me on a path that I’ll be forever grateful for. I encourage you to branch out and try SUP yoga, even if it scares you. You don’t have to have it all figured out in order to move forward. Take a leap of faith and see what catches you. Just maybe, it will be the waves.
By: Katie Foley
Learn more about Katie by following @Maeyoushine_Yoga
© 2017 KATIE FOLEY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED