>> INVERTING INTO A BACKBEND on land is tough enough. Wow, I was both enthusiastic and somewhat apprehensive to try out Paddleboard Yoga for the first time. That said, I love the laid-back freedom of stand-up paddleboarding, and relish any opportunity to hit the water when I’m lucky enough. It’s surprisingly simple thanks the wide, buoyant boards that skim easily across the ocean on a still day. It’s also a deeply meditative, core-engaging, bicep-building wonder of a workout, and great for soaking up a bit of vitamin D in the sunshine. For those who are ready for something different, paddleboard yoga is still fresh to Australian shores. Kat Harding (@yogakiss) has been running her classes on the Noosa River for the past two summers, and has also built a loyal following to her outdoor yoga classes at Noosa Woods on Hastings St.
We turned up a little before 8.30am near the iconic big pelican, the sun already heating up the glassy blue waters of the river. Kat was ready and smiling, waiting with the paddleboards, and reassured us that the class would cater for all levels – including those who’ve never paddleboarded or practiced yoga before. Kat keeps the classes intimate, with a maximum of six per session. We waded into the shallows and hopped up onto our boards, taking our paddles and pushing out past the moorings. Once on the river, it was magic – the water was crystal clear blue, and the gentle movement of the paddleboards meant you could meander and enjoy the sights both above and below the surface. A leopard sting ray, the largest I’ve ever seen, skulked along the sandy bottom; a beautiful translucent jellyfish floated past, its pale blue body undulating.
We cut across to the other side of the river, and began in Tadasana. Reaching up to the sky on the inhale, I could feel my feet press into the board to stabilise. Exhaling, I folded in half, forehead brushing against my shins. The board gently wobbled beneath me, my core muscles kicking in. These simple movements were already challenging me. As the boards began to float downstream with the tide, we took our paddles and waded back to start another round of sun salutations. We worked our way through seated twists, arm balances and even inversions. Although it took a few attempts to lift up, my very first backbend on a board was met with happy cheers from the rest of the group – I grinned back at them, albeit upside down!
We found peace resting in Savasana on our boards, eyes closed, hands and toes drifting off the sides in the cool river. Sunlight danced across our eyelids, and the sounds of the lapping water filled and centred our consciousness. Sharing a final Namaste, we took our paddles to the water one last time and arrived back on shore, exhilarated, relaxed and revived. I can’t wait for my next session.
# NB: On the 22-24 March, Kat will be running a special weekend for those based on the Sunshine Coast (or looking for a cheeky getaway) – a three-day retreat built around morning paddleboard yoga sessions, yoga in the park and walks through the spectacular Noosa National Park. If you’re interested, get in touch with Kat: Instagram @yogakiss | Email firstname.lastname@example.org