Picture yourself perfecting your downward-facing dog pose and all of a sudden, a sting ray glides underneath your board. In Grand Cayman, this is just another day at the office for yogis like Kiristen Cousins, who are leading the wave of stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga on the Island’s crystal-clear waters. “Taking your practice to the ocean is very therapeutic, as you become one with Mother Nature,” says the Washington, D.C. native, who moved to Cayman five years ago.
Shortly after her move, Cousins started teaching PaddleFit classes in Grand Cayman, blending paddling with exercises like sit-ups and squats; and it was an instant hit with locals. As yoga continued to trend in the Western world, she realised that whilst the market in Cayman was becoming more health-conscious, the Island still lacked an established SUP yoga element. Last year, she decided to fill this sought-after niche, getting yoga-certified in Jamaica and spearheading Vitamin Sea Cayman Islands’ SUP yoga programme. “For visitors of Cayman, many imagine taking their yoga practice to a new and beautiful place under the sun,” she says. “Many consider it to be a bucket list item that they want to tick off.”
Thanks to flat water conditions year-round, Grand Cayman is a dream destination for SUP yoga. One of the best spots: Seven Mile Beach. Since wind comes from the northeast — and Seven Mile Beach is set along the western side of the Island — the first 200 yards out at sea are sheltered, making it a calm spot for your SUP yoga practice.
5 Tips for SUP First-Timers
First time taking your yoga out to sea? Start with a SUP clinic at one of the Island’s top outfitters, Red Sail Sports at The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa. Watersports manager Gary Chernowski offers up five key tips that will have you looking like a pro on your paddleboard in no time:Make Sure Your Paddle is the Right Way
Pull the blade through the water in a slightly trailing position, which aids blade stability. As you perform the SUP stroke, keep the blade vertical through the middle of the stroke for the most power.
Don’t use your arms. Paddling is best done with the use of core strength, since these are the muscles that provide the most effective power for your paddle stroke.
When you first start paddling, the natural inclination is to look down at the board; but for the most stable position, you want to keep your head up, back straight and your body weight over your toes.
Before paddling out, know the conditions you’ll be facing on the water. If the wind ever changes for the worst, lie down, tuck your paddle underneath your body and begin paddling like you’re on a regular surfboard.
Just like you can practice tricks and wave riding, practising falls — or at least being aware of how to fall safely — can ensure your session is not cut short by injury. If you fall, fall away from your board. This way, the only thing you’ll hit is the water.
Want to bring your board along for the ride? Cayman Airways allows you to check it as baggage for only US$95.
Author: Lane Nieset