Owner-Shanti Yoga/ Paiwen Team - SUP Yoga Guru
written by: Kate Masri
Chantal has been practicing yoga for over a decade, and brings her experience and enthusiasm to yoga and paddleboarding. She recently started SUPing after getting her first Paiwen board, and naturally brought yoga and SUPing together. She enjoys paddleboarding near her home in Tsawwassen, and teaching yoga in her studio, as well as retreats abroad. She also loves spending time with her dog, Lola, who teaches her as much as her friends and students.
As stand up paddleboarding gains popularity around the world, people are looking for ways to improve the sport, and ways to make it competitive and more diverse. And because stand up paddleboarding (aka SUPing) is so accessible and can be done as a leisure activity, it has room to expand into something more dynamic.
This is where paddleboarding meets yoga. In the past couple of years stand up paddle board yoga or SUP yoga has taken off, bringing innovation to both activities. While yoga is typically done in a quiet, indoor space, SUP yoga brings yoga out into the wild, natural setting of oceans, rivers, or lakes. Not only that, but the ocean’s constant movement makes for a more challenging yoga practice, especially because of the importance of balance in yoga practices.
And just like SUP yoga brings new challenges and possibilities to yoga, SUP yoga also allows paddleboarding to diversify as a sport: It challenges paddlers to develop flexibility, strength, and balance in ways that cannot be achieved by merely paddling on the board.
Our friend Chantal O’Sullivan has been practicing and teaching yoga for over a decade, and believes that yoga should be, first and foremost, fun! So, it is no surprise that when she started paddleboarding after getting her first Paiwen SUP that she brought the same enthusiasm to the sport. We talked to Chantal about her experience going from yoga to paddleboarding, and how they work together as a sport.
When did you get really into SUPing?
I got my first board in 2011 and it's been so much fun. Amazing exercise and just the perfect way to be outside, on the ocean.
I live near the water in Tsawwassen so I just wheel the board to the beach, get on and go out exploring. It's a great way to unwind, relax and be out in nature. And there's so many people out SUP-ing, it's also social. In fact, my mom just got a board so it's something fun for us to do together.
Why SUP and yoga?
Yoga is all about connecting to your body, breathing and your mind. It's an amazing way to relax and to let go of stress, while opening up your entire body, head to toe. In my own life, yoga has taught me to be more present. I think these ideas can translate into anything we do off the mat, from going for a walk with your dog to really enjoying a cup of tea.
When I got my SUP from Paiwen, it seemed natural to paddle out and practice yoga surrounded by the ocean. The water is often very still and cIear here in Tsawwassen so it's perfect for yoga.
I wrote about this, and included an easy routine, in Elephant Journal. Here's the link:http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/06/sup-dog-yoga-on-a-floating-mat-chantal-osullivan/
What do you like about your Paiwen board?
Everything! It's not just good looking — sunny-looking bamboo with a styling' logo — it's also pretty smooth on the water and very stable. I love how it came with everything I needed, from the bamboo paddle to the deck pad and carry bag. It's a great board for any paddler too, so I feel confident lending it out to friends who are new to SUP since it's so user-friendly. There's almost no learning curve.
Do you think it's important that there is a women's specific paddleboard? Why?
I think paddling is for everyone and anyone. That's why it's so great and inclusive. You can literally just get on, and in a few minutes or so, feel confident to stand up and paddle. I like how Paiwen focuses on making boards for women but to be honest, my husband is always using my board. He loves it too!
What is your favorite SUPing route?
I like to put my board on it's wheels and then pull it down the road to the beach access in Boundary Bay, where I live. From there, I just carry my board to the shoreline, get on it and head out to explore the bay. On a clear day, I can paddle out towards Point Roberts and see crabs taking a walk under the water, or even some really cool fish. If I'm warm, I jump in for a swim. If I'm lazy, I just lay down on the board and watch the clouds overhead.
How are yoga and SUP similar?
Just like yoga is for everyone — not just the bendy people — I love how SUP is so accessible and great for anyone and any body. You don't have to be super fit or into extreme sports to try it. But by doing SUP, or yoga, you end up feeling stronger and fitter. You become more aware of balance and more in touch with your body. Both are great ways to exercise, and to have an amazing time too.
Anything else you'd like to add?
If you haven't tried SUP, what are you waiting for? Try it. You'll love it.
ON PAIWEN: http://chantalyoga.com/about/supyoga.html
- owner, Shanti Yoga, in Tsawwassen (www.shantiyogabc.com)
- Join Chantal on her upcoming yoga and surf retreat to Bali, Indonesia in April. (LINK here: http://www.shantiyogabc.com/eventsandworkshops.html )
- favourite food: fresh pineapple
- Facebook.com/chantalyoga + Facebook.com/shantiyogabc
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