paddle boarding mother and son
January and New Year’s resolutions to get fit go hand in hand like chips and dip, but what if you could really make it interesting and fun this year while and have quality family togetherness at the same time?
The ancient practices of yoga and surfing in the form of stand-up paddle boarding have taken on a modern motion that have multiple benefits for adults and children alike. For the more adventurous family, the two can be twisted into one amazing workout that builds confidence, coordination and core strength all while interacting with the forces of nature.
Pose in Peace
Your kids may wear peace signs in their ears and on their shirts but do they really feel it inside? From the moment they enter a yoga space, the energy is one of peace, acceptance and calm. Adults have known for years that yoga improves flexibility by safely stretching muscles and soft tissues which can relieve stiffness, tension, pain and fatigue. The various poses, or asanas, build core, leg and upper body strength. The breath work that is integral to yoga practice improves lung capacity and promotes relaxation, benefits which are ideal for children, too. For the anxious child, yoga poses and breathing techniques teach stress reducing skills. The student athlete will become stronger, more focused and confident. The easily distracted child can learn skills to become mentally focused and calm.
Offering both children’s and family classes, Monarch Therapy in Naples claims that in addition to being fun, yoga helps children gain self-control, self-esteem, elevate mood and improve sleeping habits.
Many local yoga studios and the YMCA offer children’s and family classes. To participate, all you need is loose, comfortable clothing and a water bottle.
What if you could walk on water? Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) takes the surfboard to sea level in a calm, yet strong, way. It may seem like a new trend, but the SUP dates back to Hawaii’s earliest surfing history and Polynesians’ natural way of water travel.
If you have ever been lounging on a beach when a paddle boarder glides by you may think it’s a leisurely and passive activity. Paddle boarding actually develops core strength through the balance required to navigate the water. We are fortunate in Southwest Florida to have relatively calm bodies of water and great weather to experience this beautiful environment. While floating on the water you can enjoy the birds, sea life and clouds. People have described the experience as the sensation of walking on water. You can stand or sit on the long, wide boards as you take it all in. You can even let your littlest ones ride shotgun on your board until they are ready to take the plunge.
Speaking of plunges, be prepared to get wet! A hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and a personal floatation device also are recommended. Paddle boards and paddles can be purchased or rented. Some resorts offer lessons for kids as young as three. PaddleBoardFun.com in Fort Myers Beach will come to any local beach to conduct tours, teach lessons and safety. The lessons take place in shallow water for students as young as 10 and provide life preservers, equipment and bottled water.
Float and Flow
Stand up paddle board yoga takes the alignment of the body and soul with nature out on the water. Classes usually begin on the sand using the board as a mat and then progress out to the water. It may sound like it would take a special combination of balance and coordination to participate in this water sport, but SUP yoga actually can be very beginner friendly, according to Gillian Gibree, owner of Paddle into Fitness in San Diego. “I can teach families, from little kids to grandma and grandpa,” she says. And don’t worry—most classes use an anchor to keep students from floating away.
According to Jill Wheeler, owner of Wellfit Institute in Naples, when students must adapt their asanas to the water conditions in SUP yoga, their connection to the basics of yoga is revitalized. “Why do we do this practice to begin with?” Wheeler blogs on her website. “Perhaps, to practice being solid when things around us are not … We cannot be attached to what the yoga pose should look like, we must allow ourselves to be more playful and respond to what the current conditions require. What if we were more like that in our lives? Adaptable, flexible, willing to get back to basics when the times are rough around us.”