Work Your Body To Feed Your Soul

Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga is a popular trend in the fitness world, and you can do it right here on IOP. By Jaime Muehl. Photos by Steve Rosamilia.

Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga is a fast-emerging trend in the ­fitness world — and for good reason. It combines the full-body strength and cardiovascular training of paddling with the mind-body bene­fits of yoga, all while balancing on an unstable surface. Add to that sunshine, water, fresh air, and breathtaking Lowcountry scenery and you have a recipe for success. “It’s so meditative to be on the water,” Isle of Palms resident Jen Owens says, “You can just really be quiet, but you’re also getting an amazing workout. It’s nice to just be in nature. Misty Lister, an instructor, always says it’s the best workout room in the world.”

Jaime Muehl leads a SUP Yoga class at the IOP Marina

Jaime Muehl leads a SUP Yoga class at the IOP Marina

On a gorgeous day at the Isle of Palms Marina, I take a group out on the water for an invigorating SUP Yoga class. As we paddle away from the docks and head toward the shallow marsh where we’ll anchor for class, Loser them paddle tips and encourage them to focus on their breath and the sounds of nature.  e 15 to 20-minute paddle is designed to warm up the body and cultivate mindfulness as they tune in to the rhythmic swishing of the blade as it slices through the water. Once we reach the anchor site, we drop the weights into the sandy bottom and secure our paddles under the bungee cords at the front of our boards.


Class is a half-hour-long all-levels  ow, designed to mimic a studio yoga session but with modi­fications for practicing on a board.  e beauty of SUP Yoga is that it offers something to everyone: a relaxed and playful setting to try yoga for the first time or a new challenge for experienced yogis as the board constantly shifts beneath them. Floating on the water under an endless blue sky, as egrets  y overhead and ­ she jump nearby, I lead them from pose to pose, reminding them to breathe and to laugh. “ ere is no better place to exercise than out here,” Melanie Cappelmann, another IOP local, says. “It’s absolutely gorgeous, no matter when you go.”

Every class bothers playtime, where I encourage students to try a headstand or crow pose and face their fear of falling in. Getting wet is part of the fun. Class ends with a long savasana, or guided relaxation, often with ­ undertips dangling in the water, waves gently rocking the boards. Here, students reap all the bene­fits of their practice, ­ ending their breath and truly experiencing communion with nature. When they come out of savasana, they feel invigorated and renewed — which is fortunate because we still must paddle back to the marina.

 As they pull up their anchors and take paddles back in hand, spirits are high. Everyone is chatting and laughing, reveling in the shared experience. “I love paddling because it’s so social,” Kellie White, who lives on IOP, says. “You’re using all of your body, but you’re having fun. And you’re in nature and it’s beautiful.”

 The tide is against us on the way back to the dock, but no one seems to mind. Our muscles are stretched, our souls are full, and we’re just enjoying being on the water on a sunny day.