Why Paddleboarding is Like Yoga, Running And Meditation

Why Paddleboarding is Like Yoga, Running And Meditation

That title doesn’t really do stand-up paddleboarding justice, not in its entirety, because it’s actually way more than that. If I was to rewrite that title to better suit the truth, if not the parameters of effective tilting, it would probably read something like: Why Paddleboarding is Like Yoga, Running, Meditation, Shirin Yoku (Forest Bathing) and Family Therapy, Rolled Into One.

Because it really is, if you allow it.

I admit, I have a point of reference for this because I love running and I practice both yoga and meditation. Sort of, sometimes. And I have a family that, like most families I suspect, is never very far away from needing significant therapy; I also dig trees and Japanese culture.

For me, there is a moment when I’m on my board, lost in nature and far from man-made noise when I get a sense of deep tranquility and gratitude. If you paddle, you’ll know this. If you run, practice yoga or meditation, or find your self meandering through a woodland, completely present, you’ll know this too.

There are many ways to reach that half-enlightenment, that sense of total equanimity that the Greeks called ataraxia, but I get there quickest by throwing my board in the river, widening my visual field to encompass all of it and being in every moment as I paddle into my peace of mind. The river is a metaphor; it’s time pushing past me. I try to stay present on the board through unexpected twists in the river, flotsam drifting past like thoughts rising and falling away, nothing permanent, everything simply flowing forward. Resist the flow, try to cling on to anything and I’ll lose my balance, fall in. Best to accept it just as it is and embrace the impermanence.

I reckon it’s impossible to go for a paddle and not have your brain thank you for the experience, but your body gets to improve too. Core strength, stamina and balance all get plenty of air-time on a paddleboard, and in most cases you get to dictate the pace, unless the current has other ideas, but isn’t that just like life? Almost every paddle can be exactly what you want it to be; a workout, a yoga session, a meditation, an escape, a bonding experience, an adventure. Or all of those together.

It’s not so much that paddleboarding is really like anything else at all, it’s more that it encompasses so many of the benefits of so many other mindful activities. Whether you share the experience with loved ones or simply head out for some alone time, just make sure you are truly there. It’s hard not to be on a paddleboard, but as with everything in life, if you can be one hundred percent where you are then everything is brighter because you can disconnect from everything toxic and reconnect with everything that is essential.


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