Yoga offers physical and mental health benefits for all ages as you stretch your body beyond its natural paradigm, but at the Mandara Spa Fitness Center at Atlantis, they are ramping it up another notch with paddleboard yoga class, the practice of yoga in the middle of a body of water, and in the case of the resort, it’s their fitness pool.
“It’s fun, different, and unique,” said Mikhail Barnett, Mandara Spa Fitness Center at Atlantis fitness manager, of the class that is instructed by Alaura Albury in which he said people try to master their physical self.
It’s hard enough holding yoga poses on solid ground, so imagine adding a wobbly surface like a stand-up paddleboard, especially if you’re in your first outing.
“At the end of the day, yoga is alignment of your physical or spiritual self,” said Barnett. “When a person goes on the paddleboard, more focus is on the physical self because you’re really trying to get the alignment and making sure you don’t fall into the water. You’re embracing the fear of not being afraid to fall,” he said.
Barnett said the first person that falls into the water, breaks the ice. And as I found out firsthand, some poses are easier than others on a paddleboard, and helpful tips by Albury helped to set me up for success on my first outing – I did not fall in.
The fitness center manager said yoga is a practice, and no matter how advanced a person is, there is always something new a person can master.
“Once you have mastered, there is always room to master more, and room to become balanced. Once a person has achieved that level of comfort on the board, and don’t have to think about the physical, they’re free to flow within the poses, and flow within their inner spiritual self. They can focus on the meditation. With those two combined, it’s almost like you’re floating on air because it feels like nothing is beneath you at that point.”
While the first class may mean a person has to get their bearings, Barnett said paddleboard yoga is good for newbies to the practice, as well as those who are advanced in yoga.
“Every class, you’re able to experience something different because you let go more and more. In the first class, your body is going to be tense as you focus on not falling. By the second class, you’re more comfortable on balance and your mind is able to let that go. All the tension isn’t happening anymore. Anything you had going on – the stress, the negatives – you forget about them because you don’t have room for added stress. It makes you more aware.”
He said people who practice land-based yoga are a bit nervous and hesitant when they try paddleboard for the first time.
“What comes to mind is sometimes it’s good embracing being uncomfortable because that way you become more comfortable,” said Barnett.
Paddleboard yoga, he said, helps people with aligning their thoughts better, helps them be more mentally strong, and that the meditation involved will help with chipping away the negatives as they continue on the path to their fitness journey.
To get a workout from a paddleboard yoga class and work up a sweat, he said people will need to master balance to flow through the routine without having to worry about balancing.
The paddleboard yoga class was introduced to the fitness center’s suite of offerings in August. Three classes per day are offered. Resort guests and locals (who have to present a negative COVID test or be vaccinated) are able to participate in the 45-minute per class for a fee. There is a maximum of eight people per class.