Floating Yoga is the Next Fitness Trend

OK, so you think you’ve mastered Adho Mukha Svanasana? Now do it while floating in a pool. Clare Karp, founder of Float Your Mat Yoga, teaches standup paddleboard (SUP) yoga—a modern twist on the ancient practice. Whether you’re a Namaste novice or your chi is totally centered, it’s sure to take your lotus position up a notch. —as told to Alyssa Brandt

Clare Karp, founder of Float Your Mat Yoga
Clare Karp, founder of Float Your Mat Yoga

Photograph by Annette Navarro

“I got my certification in open water, off the coast of St. Petersburg, Florida. I wanted to get certified on the ocean because I felt that then, no matter where I teach, I’ll feel confident. We’d paddle away from shore for about five minutes before practice. It was breathtaking to be outside with manatees swimming under our boards.

We start very slow, which is why anyone can do this. Our classes take place in about four to five feet of water. Shallow enough to stand, but deep enough that you won’t jam your heel if you fall.

Worst-case scenario, you fall in! You realize when you fall in once that it’s no big deal. In the middle of winter, it could be snowing outside, but it’s 90 degrees in the pool.

The challenge for experienced yogis is that you can’t just go right into your practice. You have to slow down and think about every move. You quickly find out where you’re compensating. Even something as simple as a plank position, you’ll know if you’re pushing harder on your left or right. One of my students says it’s like church for her because she’s never so focused and grounded as when she’s on the board.

My biggest enjoyment as a teacher is when I see how nervous people are when they first come, and then they get on the board and they get flowing and all of a sudden they start to play. I see their confidence building. At the end of each class we do Savasana and lay down on the board. I encourage people to dangle their arms and legs in the water and I can literally see them exhale.”

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