Five Reasons SUP can raise your vibration!
You are floating surrounded on all sides by blue water, the buoyant board beneath your feet rides the pulse of a current that expands and contracts. Your feet are steady underneath you, legs are strong, knees are soft, core is bright, center of gravity is stable as the proprioceptors in your ankles and other joints respond to every subtle nuance of the waters dance.
Your arms join in rhythm as you carve the water with your paddle – the long handle dipping in and out of the receptive surface. Your breathe connects with the rhythm of the strokes – inhale as the paddle lifts up out of the water, exhale as it dips in and you pull it past the outer edge of your board
With equal weight in both feet, you brighten your toes and root the edges of your feet releasing any asymmetrical tension that has been collecting in your body. You must be symmetrical in your balance on the board or you will roll over into the water – you cant cheat!! A soft swell rocks your board from the side and you respond by shifting your weight. Another swell, a little chop on the water’s surface, you realign. You are awake – alive with conscious relaxation.
You are the embodiment of strength gathered from the inside out, physical balance and mindfulness. You are connecting to and responding to your environment. You are fully alive, radiant and empowered.
Although paddle boarding has been around for centuries, used in Africa and South America to travel, fish, hunt and war, it became most popular recently on the Hawaiian Islands in the 60’s. A passionate paddle boarder, I dived in to understand why this ancient art and hot new sport is so healthy for our bodies, minds and souls.
You are grounding – Pushing down on the board, you are rooting through your feet which creates a grounding effect in your body. Grounding corresponds with your first chakra known as Muladhara – mula meaning “root” and adhara meaning “support.” In the body it corresponds to your pelvic floor, lower spine and legs. It is the seat of your physical security, your family, your right to be and belong, and your basic needs such as food and shelter. When you have a healthy root chakra you feel secure, less afraid, and more empowered. When you embody the feeling of grounding you strengthen the space inside of you that holds your feeling of security and belonging.
Dynamic Stabilization – When you place equal balance on both feet, stabilizing your stance you are using all the tiny proprioceptors in your body. This awakens the nervous system to observe itself and make adjustments as needed, strengthening your dynamic stabilization skills. Dynamic stabilization is a integrated function of your neuromuscular systems of your legs, hips, torso, and shoulders to respond to changes and fluctuations in your environment, training you to be both more centered and more fluid both physically and physiologically. This is super important, especially as – OK I will say it!- as you get older and your sense of balance is challenged.
A great workout – Paddling is a low impact cardio workout. The action of stabilizing your legs and core as you pull the paddle though the water strengthens not only your abs but also your legs, arms and back. Postural support and muscle activation, as well closed chain lower body work strengthen and tone your whole body. When you feel stronger in your body you feel stronger and more present in your life. And a plus is that you burn approximately 300 – 700 calories an hour, depending on your speed and water/wind conditions.
Repetitive movement creates a “relaxation response” – Dr. Herbert Benson of the Benson-Henry Institute for MInd Body Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital works with meditation as a tool to reduce metabolism, rate of breathing, heart rate, and brain activity, as well as lowering blood pressure. Meditation can include any movement that is rhythmic and repetitive, bringing you a feeling of inner calm and peace, lowering production of cortisol and other stress hormones. The repetitive movement of paddling meets this criteria, creating a moving meditation that is accessible and effortless.
It is fun! – You can paddle with friends and catch up on the weeks gossip. If you are on the competitive side you can find local races to participate in. You can challenge your spiritual self and bring your yoga practice on board. You are connecting with the great outdoors and the positive effects of being on the water. Be creative. Pack a picnic. Observe sea life. Meditate. Take photos. Discover your dynamic inner salty souled water spirit and embrace him or her. She is vibrant and she is in there just waiting to be awakened so that she can rise to the surface.