We've all seen those oceanscape IG pictures of svelte youths locked into yoga poses while balanced on bobbing paddle boards. What if you could try it for yourself in a studio, no water necessary?
FULL DISCLAIMER: I'm no yogini. I tend to feel like I'm wasting my time if I'm not going bonkers burning a butt-load of calories. I know yoga is really good for me. I always feel better, stronger, more centered, and less of a hater when I practice flexibility regularly. And it's always a bonus to not be so stiff that I pee my pants a little when I bend down to tie my shoes.
So when I heard about yoga on the Indo YogaFit Board, I was more than intrigued. Would the difficulty of balancing on a board jazz yoga up? The Indo Board was inspired by SUP Yoga (Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga), where adventure-seeking and flexible younguns would paddle out into the water and yoga-it-up on the unstable surface of their boards. As you can imagine, trying to balance your body on a board in the water while doing yoga is about as easy as explaining to a 4-year-old why you have to wear pants. The makers of the Indo Board tried to mimic that paddle board yoga instability by putting an oblong-shaped board on rockers to increase the strength and balance of its users.
On a recent breezy evening in West Hollywood, I joined owner and creator of Train and Relax, Kate, at her studio in the Muscle Mechanics Gym to try out the Indo Board. Kate has a lovely, calm presence that settled any first time jitters. She led us through a vinyasa flow yoga class, going to the board right away.
The Indo Board looks un-intimidating. It sits really low to the ground and is long enough to lie on comfortably. The small rockers underneath the board anchor it to the ground; you can walk back and forth without fear of it flipping up at either end and tipping you into your classmate's down dog. When I climbed on the shoulder-width board, I enjoyed the gentle rocking sensation. The Indo Board is covered in cork, which provides a springy-but-firm surface, reminiscent of a baby's cheek or any part of your body when you were in high school. The instability of the board is just enough to keep you focused, but not so crazy that you're scared you might fall off and hurt yourself. If you feel weird during a yoga pose and need to jump off, you're about two inches off the ground, so it's no big deal to hop down.
As we moved through the class, I found myself really having to concentrate and use a lot of strength to stay balanced and keep good form during the poses. I got really sweaty (always a sign that something good is happening), and I felt sore the next day. Kate was a superb instructor, providing small body alignment adjustment cues that made all the difference and kept us in perfect form. Sometimes we used the tipping of the board to bring us deeper into a stretch, or support spinal alignment. I have to say, it was pretty fun.
Over the next couple of days, I felt that familiar exercise addiction twinge: I wanted to do it again! The Indo Board made yoga poses more fun, challenging, and engaging than the usual mat yoga. For you yoga beginners, note that it helps to be familiar with yoga poses so that you can really concentrate on your balance.
If you're on the outs with your regular yoga practice and looking for more balance in your life, head on down to see Kate and her Indo Boards and fall in love with yoga all over again.
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Image and Make-Up: Kendra Giraldi