By Chantal O’sullivan
Pics: Daniel O’sullivan
SUP Board: 10’ Paiwen
Autumn reminds us about the beauty of letting go. That sometimes we need to embrace change in order to make space for the new.
Trees turn gold and red. Fallen leaves are crunchy under our flip-flops and suddenly everything begins to change.
And on a crisp fall evening, there’s nothing as wonderful and inspiring as walking down a forest trail to the ocean on Bowen Island and heading out on the water.
After an easy paddle around the shoreline to warm up my shoulders and hips, I stop to look at the starfish below and listen to the ravens in the trees, chatting about their day.
Then I sit for a simple meditation using this mantra — or silent words inside my head — to celebrate the spirit of the season. On the inhale, I think of the word “let.” On the exhale, I think of the word “go.”
While I breath and ground, I pay attention to the sounds around me, especially the ocean rocking my board softly back and forth with the tides.
Since the water is so calm and glassy, I practice some yoga postures on my board, a nice way to feel physically open and present to the setting sun.
Here’s a few postures from my watery, sunset practice and what they inspire inside me:
Wheel (below) feels energizing, especially when facing the colours of the horizon and the golden glow of the sun.
Downward Facing Dog (below) is a full-body opener. Also, since my head is below my heart, it shifts my point of view, especially on a SUP since the ocean is always moving. Sometimes I'll start facing the shoreline and I end up facing the horizon. It’s always invigorating too.
Like many people, I have a love/hate relationship to slower postures that require more focus, including this particular hamstring stretch, also known as ardha hanumanasana (below.) While it encourages me to be still and notice how I feel from the inside out, it’s also very challenging.
But steady breathing and focusing on the sensations I feel helps me to listen in and eventually, to let go of tension.
Sighing also helps and so does the salty, ocean air.
(It smells so good out here!)
I love chest and shoulder opening postures that feel accessible.
This is nice way to use my light-weight Paiwen paddle to kind of floss away tightness and congestion in my upper back, while watching for bald eagles and
Everything is easier when you’re feeling relaxed and happy, including this spicy and advanced full-body opener.
And yes, I have to admit, I dig that it is called “mermaid pose.” Seems fitting for yoga on a floating mat doesn’t it?
I think so too!
Sometimes the most radical thing we can do is to do nothing.
To just be.
To reflect on change.
To celebrate everything shifting, moving and transforming. Especially if you’re lucky enough to lie down on your paddleboard, on a gorgeous fall night, on the water, and just be still.
Photos care of Daniel O’Sullivan.
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