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For Claudia Bustillos, left in pink, the water and the mind connect during a paddleboard yoga session because it is part of the meditation. (Photo by Daniela Rios, South Florida News Service)
For Claudia Bustillos, left in pink, the water and the mind connect during a paddleboard yoga session because it is part of the meditation. (Photo by Daniela Rios, South Florida News Service)

Yoga on the water: SUP helps build balance and muscles

The bluish-green wall with lotus shapes at Om Beats yoga studio resembles the ocean.

Claudia Bustillos, 38, owner of Om Beats, said she planned it to reflect her love of the ocean and yoga, which she developed as a young girl.

“Yoga and water sports are my passion. They make me feel alive,” said Bustillos, who moved to Miami from Caracas 15 years ago.

To combine her love of the ocean and yoga, Bustillos practices paddleboard yoga in Miami Beach, Key Biscayne and Coconut Grove.

Paddleboard yoga, or SUP yoga (“stand-up paddleboard yoga’’) is an alternative way of practicing yoga. It is done on boards that resemble surfboards but are a little bigger. The workout builds balance, as you straddle the board while it moves, and it’s great for the core. Paddling also strengthens your upper body.

By Daniela Rios
South Florida News Service
Follow us on: @SFNS_News • Facebook • Instagram 

“Usually we balance more on one side, and we don’t realize it because the floor doesn’t move, but we realize it in the ocean because you will fall if you don’t find balance,” said Bustillos, who has been teaching paddleboard yoga since 2010. “SUP yoga is fun because it is really challenging and in the beginning, most of the people fall into the water, which is the best part.”

To practice paddleboard yoga, people have to do it on a proper type of board because it can be more challenging than just paddleboarding.

“A paddleboard made for yoga needs to be stable and light and the right amount of volume, a full soft top is recommended to provide a comfortable and safe performance, as well as multiple tie-down points for a bungee system,” said Delfos Almagro, 40, founder and designer at Indigo Stand-Up Paddleboards.

The bungee system allows for water bottles, paddles and a small anchor to be tied down to hold the board in place.

“The waves move you, but you do not want to drift too far from the shore,” said Almagro. “That is why it is important to anchor down when doing SUP yoga.”

In the ocean, Bustillos practices a variety of yoga techniques: vinyasa, hatha, meditative, quantum and therapeutic, which are different styles that can include the same postures but benefit different things, from a strong body to a peaceful mind.

People can create their own flow of “asanas,” or yoga postures.

“The meditation by breathing and transitioning of “asanas” is beautiful. You get to connect a lot with your surroundings and the elements around you, like the water,” said Bustillos.

Dr. Mari Pinto-Mitrani, 34, a Miami Beach doctor of neural therapy who has been practicing SUP yoga for three years, said the activity takes her back to the basics of yoga.

“Holding a downward dog, for example, is very challenging, so you aren’t capable of doing advanced poses for too long. I can’t even hold a tree pose for too long,” said Mitrani. “It’s just going back to the basics.”

After Bustillos completes the SUP yoga session with the “savasana” relaxation pose, she and her students attempt advanced poses, like a headstand, for a fun challenge.

“My favorite moment of a SUP yoga session is at the end when we do acrobatics or inverted movements on the board, such as headstands, scorpion and pincha [forearm headstand],” said Vivian Carias, 39, owner of Vertical Dance Fitness USA, who practices yoga and SUP yoga in her free time.

Valeria Hinojosa, 27, a fashion blogger with an eco-vegan lifestyle, agrees.

“I enjoy every moment where my body and mind connect, allowing myself to find stability and courage to try difficult balancing poses on my board,” said Hinojosa, who practices yoga at Om Beats.

Balancing is practiced on dry land or on the water, but Bustillos said it must be controlled more on the water.

Bustillos, who is six months pregnant, recommends trying yoga off the board first to get used to the movements. The water’s waves add their own challenge.

“The part that fascinates me the most is the connection with the water and how I realized that when we are calm and our thoughts are calm, even the water gets calm,” said Bustillos.

South Florida News Service reporter Christine Benavente contributed to this story.

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MORE INFORMATION

What: SUP yoga

Where: Om Beats Studio, 452 SW Eighth St., Miami. Supyoga classes are held in Miami Beach, Key Biscayne or Coconut Grove.

When: Yoga is offered every day of the week; supyoga is offered Saturdays or Sundays, depending on reservations.

Price: First yoga class is free. Supyoga session is $35 if you own a board, $50 a session if you need to rent a board.

For information: Call 786-485-4155 or visit @Ombeatsstudio on Instagram.

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