It’s hard to know exactly when modern Stand Up Paddling (SUP) began, but it has undeniable Polynesian ancestry. SUP is popular and fast growing sport because it is an exciting full body comprehensive workout whereby you launch from the shoreline, into the unknown. Your heart is racing you are filled with excitement and fear at the same time (FYI- this is normal).
Just imagine, starring out to the unknown water, you jump on board and start off kneeling, progress to standing and then you are standing on top of a long, stable surf board – your core is completely engaged. You are centered in the middle of your SUP board, holding a light weight paddle which you then submerge into the water to propel yourself forward taking long strong, sweeping like smooth motions with your arms and upper body, gaining momentum, gazing out to the horizon, riding the waves, breathing in the fresh air, and completely focused and concentrating like never before. Congratulations you are now SUPPING! As you float across the water, your entire body from head toe is completely engaged, you have activated every muscle fiber, every system, all your senses are heightened and you suddenly know what it feels like to experience a deep, and profound new found sense of the present moment and are smiling ear to ear!
I first discovered SUP in 2006 while I was in California obtaining my yoga certification and studying at the Ashtanga Yoga Center in Carlsbad, CA. From day one, I was instantaneously hooked on SUP. As a full-time Physical Therapist, and devoted yogi, I immediately recognized the profound and endless medicinal benefits of utilizing the water as the main modality . I lived on the Rye river (a hidden treasure) for years and everyday after working with patients, I would drop my SUP board into the water (literally in my backyard) and paddle offshore at sunrise or sunset simply to decompress after a stressful work day and heal from my own personal orthopedic back injuries which I had sustained years ago as a professional Broadway dancer. Being outside, connecting with nature and dropping into the present moment, offered me a tremendous amount of balance and peace. I gradually, began taking patients out and floating on top of the water seemed to expedite their healing. SUP improved their balance, cardiovascular strength, endurance, stamina, flexibility, coordination and range of motion. In addition, they too expressed a heightened sense of feeling centered, relaxed and calm.
What began as my own personal floating yoga mat experimental laboratory, evolved into a greater vision and I created SUP OM YOGA, Westchester’s first and only floating yoga studio. Today, SUP OM YOGA is more than just a floating yoga studio. I like to think of it as my sacred therapeutic oasis to help others heal body, mind and soul. At SUP OM YOGA I am able to combine all three of my passions Physical Therapy, power Yoga and Stand Up paddle Boarding.
Regardless of your age or athleticism, if you can stand up, you can learn to SUP! All students must know how to swim. Every student at SUP OM YOGA first learns how to Stand Up and Paddle. The learning curve is quick and students get their sea legs quickly. Students learn how to paddle smart from the start. All students take my Basic SUP 101 and learn board specifics, how to carry and handle a SUP board using good body mechanics, proper launch safety skills, basic paddling techniques: how to turn, stop, propel forward, back stroke, pivot turn, fall off, and get back on the board. There is nothing better than floating in savasana with your finger tips in the water. It’s Pure liquid sunshine bliss!
Being able to teach SUP and SUP YOGA brings me great joy. I am so grateful that I am able to continuously share my passion, knowledge and empower others by giving them the gift of a new found sense of strength, accomplishment, confidence and build stronger healthier community connections, one wave, one breath, one day at a time. Until next tide, Namaste.
For more information on SUP YOGA check out their website
Debra is proud owner of Reforming Rehab private out-patient a Physical Therapy Facility for 15 years and holds a Masters of Science in Physical Therapy from New York Medical College. She is also a Yoga Alliance registered E-RYT Yoga Instructor from PURE NYC. She is also a Certified Level 2 SUP Instructor with Academy of Surfing and WPA SUP & SUP Yoga Instructor. In the winter Debbie enjoys leading yoga Teacher Trainings, Anatomy workshops, winter SUP Tours & retreats, and teaches yoga throughout Westchester County in various school districts.