SUP yoga: Releasing Fight and Finding Flow

Cuba-Bogota-Rio 780SUP (an acronym for Stand Up Paddleboarding) is said to have its origin in the Polynesian Islands but it was first noted that surfers in Waikiki in the 1940’s were standing up on their boards to navigate through the water. In the early 1960’s the beach boys of waikiki were seen paddling out to sea with outrigger paddles on their surfboards and taking pictures of the tourists learning how to surf. This eventually caught on and surfers began paddleboarding on days that the waves were low.

Cuba-Bogota-Rio 856During my trip to Brazil I tried SUP and being the yogi that I am I couldn’t help but to try out some postures on my board. It was a sunny but tumultuous day and the waves were the highest I have ever seen anywhere. There were red flags laid out along the beach warning swimmers of the deadly waves but there were even more surfers and boogie boarders waxing up getting ready to take on these waves. It was on this day that I decided to try paddleboarding for the first time. After all, SUP is done beyond the waves where the water is much calmer… Right?

I finally made it out and the water of the Copacabana inlet was magically calmer than it had been just 10 minutes earlier. Halfway through our ride along the coast the water started getting really choppy. My instinct was to fight the ocean, to stay up on my board and to conquer the waves that were bullying me. I paddled and fought, paddled and resisted, paddled and fell. I got back on my board several times before realizing how silly I was trying to fight the ocean. I read this the night before in Osho’s Yoga The Science of the Soul,

” You have to resist something; Only then you can suffer… One of the deepest secrets in life: that pain disappears if you flow with it. And if you can flow totally pain becomes happiness.”

So I tried flowing with the water, using the erratic rhythm of the choppy breaks to push me in the direction I wanted to go. I was no longer fighting but flowing. I found it exhilarating that I could collaborate with nature to go in a certain direction. In my fencing practice, I try to remember to do the same. If I fight with my opponent, especially at an action that she may be more practiced in, I will eventually exhaust myself. But if I use her energy to propel me into an attack or a counter-attack then I find that I am quicker and more adaptable. The water taught me to release myself from my instinct to fight and instead try to take every painful moment as an opportunity to exercise my nature-given ability to flow.


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