Why a sunset paddle board yoga class should be on everyone’s Hawaiian holiday bucket list.
TEXT BY JESSICA BLACKMUN // IMAGES BY JACKSON GROVES
When most people imagine yoga on a paddle board they picture one of two things. They either imagine a super graceful person doing all sorts of crazy handstands and back bends while balancing on a floating paddle board, or they imagine themselves just trying to stand up on a paddle board followed by flailing arms and a big splash.
My expectation was somewhere a little closer to the flailing and splashing end of the scale. I have been practicing yoga for about six years now, but until recently I still hadn’t tested my skills in the water. When I first arrived in Honolulu, I did try doing a few poses underwater for photos but it just looked like I was drowning and possibly possessed. Needless to say, I was pretty nervous before my first sunset paddle board yoga class.
I took a class through a company called Yoga Kai. They teach both paddle board and beach yoga classes at Ala Moana beach park, which is super convenient if you are staying in Waikiki or anywhere near there.
The classes each have about 3-6 people and run for an hour and a half so that you have enough time to learn how to balance on the paddle board and bring your paddle board out into the water without cutting into your yoga session. You can either rent a paddle board with your class or bring your own. I would recommend renting; they have paddle boards that are specially made for yoga.
On a Tuesday evening I signed up for a sunset paddle board yoga class. It was a nice warm and clear evening and because it was a weekday, the park wasn’t too packed. On Yoga Kai’s website they recommend that you bring a towel and water and wear clothes that you don’t mind getting wet. Also if you have your phone, keys, or whatever they let you put your personal items and shoes in their van so that you don’t have to bring them out with you.
The instructor, Leah Vernon, started off my introducing everyone and asking everyone a few questions about their yoga experience and paddle board experience. She got right into it explaining a little bit about where to stand on the paddle board and how to center your gravity over the center of your board (which is conveniently marked by a handle for carrying the board). Leah also identified the different parts of the paddle board using the proper terminology so that we would understand her instructions during the class.
We waded into theocean to where the water touched our belly button, then fanned out so that we could all see the instructor, and dropped our weights. The weights were provided to hold the boards steady. We all got onto our boards and began the class.
The instructors at yoga Kai make it clear that it’s totally okay to fall into the water, even encouraged because it as it means you are trying things outside of your comfort zone!
The class begins with poses that require less balance and are closer to the board and slowly builds up into standing poses. There is also time at the end of the session where you can get one on one help and where you can play around with different postures.
There were a few big splashes as we went through the sunset paddle board yoga class but the paddle boards are positioned with enough space in between so that other’s falls don’t disrupt your experience or worse create a domino effect and send everyone into the water.
I absolutely loved this yoga class and really like the fun atmosphere that the instructors create with each class, so much so, that I took my sister (who doesn’t even do yoga) for a class when she came to visit! Their classes are beginner friendly so anyone can do it!
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
-Yoga Kai classes meet behind lifeguard stand 1E. This area is protected on either side and creates a really calm pocket.
-If you take the sunset session (which I highly recommend) it gets a little chilly so make sure to bring a towel or warm clothes for afterwards. I wore shorts and a long sleeve shirt but this quickly became cold once I had gotten wet and the sun was setting. My moped ride home was even chillier!
-Yoga kai offers all kinds of different class times and class types so just make sure you know what you are signing up for.
Do you love yoga? Check out the amazing outdoor yoga session we had on the top of the Crouching Lion hike!