Lucky me, I've been in Muskoka at a three day yoga retreat doing (or attempting stand up paddle boarding yoga) with Muskoka Yoga Studio. This is a huge first for me; probably the biggest new 'thing' that I've attempted since taking on one new thing a month. This retreat was actually three firsts in one. First I've never done stand up paddle boarding - ever. Second obviously I've never done yoga on a stand up paddle board. And third and probably the biggest, I've never gone to a yoga retreat; I've never left my husband and kids for more than one night in a row for anything non-work related. So this was huge.
How'd things go? When I arrived I was told that there was only one other person besides me who had come on their own, everyone else was with a friend. Nice, only one loner besides me... but truthfully it really didn't matter to me about being on my own, I get along well with others and can make friends so I really wasn't worried about that. And more importantly the introvert in me was looking forward to some time alone. I was however, terrified about getting on and moving around on that paddle board. Would I fall, get my hair wet, look like and idiot? All of the above? And I knew the answer was an infinite 'Yes'.
The first evening, after everyone attending the retreat finished getting settled we went out for our first paddle. We were instructed on safety - pfds, ankle straps, how to hold the paddle, how to paddle, how to get on. And then we were off. I have never felt so wobbly in my life. I literally was shaking from the knees up. My quads were killing me in the first five minutes, then I remembered to engage my core. Tara, our fearless leader told us that once we got out on the water, everything would change for us because there would be nothing besides the water. The minute we let our attention shift to something else was when we'd struggle for control. That coaching sunk in for me, I focussed on the horizon and just simply what my body was doing. While we were out on the water the first night a heron flew overhead and loons were calling a perfect setting for the last weekend of the summer holidays. More importantly, I stayed on my board.
The next morning when we headed out the feel on the water was completely different. We were all much more stable and confident. That feeling wasn't going to last long, today we were attempting yoga. I love yoga but have never done it on a moving surface. This practice was like no yoga I've ever done before. The most basic poses felt intimidating and unstable. But I found my focus and did my best. I wasn't the first person to fall in the water but I think I fell in the most. It wasn't bad after the first fall, in fact as it was getting quite warm practising yoga and the water felt great once you submitting to the fact that you were going to get wet. It was almost a relief to laugh at yourself and cheer as others fell off their boards and got back on. There was no expectation of perfect in the poses. We were just trying to find our focus and our balance. And truly in falling off, it meant that your had actually put yourself out there and tried.
Paddle boarding for me was a lot of fun. I did also get out on a kayak and swam with a mermaid flipper tail thing. As a result I have worked A LOT of core this weekend which is awesome for a weekend away. I would definitely paddle board again it is a complete body workout and a great way to explore the water. As for the yoga bit, I would do that again too if I could find an instructor close by and the guarantee of warm water.
I'm really happy I attended the yoga retreat and took some time for myself. I met some amazing people and learned some fun skills. I also realized that all of us are strong and powerful in so many ways that we never truly give ourselves credit for. If you open yourself up to the opportunity, things like paddle boarding and yoga make perfect sense when you aren't trying to do anything besides be in the moment. I am truly thankful for the opportunity to have participated in this weekend on so many levels and feel a great deal stronger for it.