Just another 5 minutes.
I was keen to get up.
We were off to Pembrokeshire Wake Park to try out Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga with Birdsol. If you’re not yet familiar, this is as literal as it sounds; an outdoor exercise class integrating the practice of yoga, on a paddleboard. A board much wider and more buoyant than a regular surfboard.
Prior to this, Dave and I had paddleboarded twice; once a few years back on a ‘choppier than we realised’ sea off Newgale beach and again this year, on Zell am See lake (at least fifty percent of which was spent attempting to remount after hilarious falls).
After a 45 minute wait outside the padlocked gates of Pembrokeshire Wake Park, we excitedly followed Leanne’s van into the park to get ourselves ready for the session (slight mishap there…something to do with me telling Dave we needed to be there for 7.30am when in fact it started at 9am…oops!).
She hosts paddleboarding adventure/fitness/yoga sessions, wellbeing retreats, personal training sessions, surfing lessons and professional sports massage.
She’s is a strong minded and passionate business lady with lots in the pipeline to help people play smart and live well – hence the connection with Life Seeker.
It was actually a pretty gloomy day with rain and wind greeting us horizontally. This didn’t phase Leanne, who happily changed outside the back of her van into the funkiest patterned wetsuit I’ve seen.
If you’re going to be a SUP Yoga instructor, this is definitely the way to do it.
It didn’t disappoint and it was evident this project has been a labour of love, alongside hard graft and ‘planning perseverance’, the details of which Steph (Park Co-Owner) filled us in on during breakfast.
I was interested too to hear that Steph submitted the business plan for this project as part of her second year at university. Now there’s an example of using your degree to it’s full potential.
We were in a unique location; the lake in it’s natural environment, against a backdrop of the park’s mechanical structures, and some of the highest rides at Oakwood theme park.
A surreal sight for Pembrokeshire, the contrast I felt created a War of the Worlds kind of feel.
The Clubhouse lining the waters edge has been built by hand, providing a cosy and contemporary booking office/shop/chill out/eatery area.
Every way you turn, there’s something interestingly creative to focus on. Beautifully upcycled furniture and accessories complemented by country style jugs, signage and flora.
I clocked some chunky knitted beanies from a local supplier, quality wakeboard clothing and kit, with awesome upcycled tables and chairs handcrafted by This Was A Pallet.
After meeting fellow SUP Yogis, Julia and Rebecca in the changing room (with the coolest toilets ever), we joined Leanne at the head of the lake. She took us through the basics of handling the board, use of the leash, dismounting and mounting, launching into the water etc.
The boards were pretty light and easy to manage. One by one, we entered the lake from the pontoon and paddled down to the far end. Concentration was needed here, getting to grips with moving around the board to gain centre of gravity and rising from knees to feet.
Very shortly after, calmness kicked in, in response to being on the water.
We clipped side by side onto a buoy supported line and patiently waited for Leanne’s instruction.
If you’ve practised yoga before, you’ll be aware there are many forms.
Having held these postures before confidently on still ground, it was definitely a challenge to perform to the same level on a paddleboard. We now had an unstable base to consider, which added a whole new dimension to the practise.
I felt more tension in my body initially as I battled to find my centre. Each posture seemed to require more strength than on still ground, as I adjusted my arms, legs, head and core to compensate for sporadic movement.
All was going well, until we stepped up from a kneeling to a standing forward lunge. I battled to keep control but then *splash*, my lunge plunged into the lake. Of course, giggles followed immediately, more so from Dave (!) and I remounted the board (surprisingly easily) to catch up where I left off.
As we ventured into more complex moves, it was when I attempted a side twist from another lunge and opened up my arm to look behind me, that *splash* number two came.
I forgot to mention the cattle!
Ok, maybe I just have poor balance.
Leanne was particularly professional during both of these mishaps and continued her session with the three die-hards, who seemed to be posing like pros. She did struggle slightly though when my second remount shot my board sideways into Rebecca, narrowly missing a domino effect for the rest of the class.
I had a vision of the whole class in the water because of my ‘kiftness’. The laughter quickly infected Dave and finally them all…as he and I attempted to hold yet drop postures in a giggling mess.
To wrap up the session, Leanne guided us through a relaxation process, for which we lay on our backs with hands dipped in the water. We were so still that I could barely feel the water below and my mind drifted into the ‘here and now’ of what we were experiencing.
Now I was understanding and feeling the full benefit of SUP Yoga
Hands and toes wiggling brought us back into to some final stretching and breathing and a final ‘namaste’ to Leanne for guiding us through.
Thank you Leanne” we chirped in unison.
Warm croissants lay on a communal table, accompanied by jam and triangular shaped butter. Freshly blended smoothies in chunky glass tankards, gathered like milk bottles with straws, in a rustic wooden carrier adorned with screen printed fabrics.
I ‘awwed’ at the ribbon tied blankets on our chair, should we feel the need to cwtch up whilst we grazed.
Couldn’t have asked for more. Thanks guys.
If you’re curious about trying SUP Yoga, perhaps reading about our time there has helped provide the insight and inspiration for you to try it yourself. Zero experience is needed in either paddleboarding or yoga to join one of Leanne’s sessions. In fact, it’s a perfect opportunity to gain a taster of both.
Being a Life Seeker is about challenging your norm and trying something new. If that means stepping slightly outside your comfort zone, then I recommend you do.
You’ll be surprised at what you can achieve.