A holiday on Bavaria’s lakes helps you unwind. Also included: SUP Yoga. We wanted to know what that’s like so we sent our reporter for a meditation session on Lake Ammersee. Text: Christian Haas. Photos: Angelika Jakob
Feeling the flow
It was only a matter of time until the mega-trends of Stand-up-Paddling and Yoga would find each other. After all, both skills demand balance, equilibrium and physical control. The exercises out on the lake surrounded by beautiful, calm scenery can be varied according to your level of fitness, making them hugely popular.
Crow, cobra, lion and crocodile on an unstable board? That sounds intriguing. The worst thing that can happen when you start to wobble is an ungainly dismount into the water. The best thing, in contrast, is having someone by your side to show you the right way to achieve steadfast calm. Someone like Sonja Braun, who offers yoga sessions on Lake Ammersee, or Eliane Droemer from the SUP Club Starnberg who inspires visitors to the neighbouring lake with SUP Fitness and SUP Yoga courses.
Meanwhile, on Lake Chiemsee Dominique Grabmann gently encourages the Pranayama (breathing) and balance of those seeking relaxation. SUP Yoga courses are also available on the lakes in Franconia and on lakes and pools in the Allgäu, Bavarian Swabia and Eastern Bavaria.
They are in great demand. It seems that everybody is now talking about Stand-up-Paddling (SUP), which Polynesian fishermen have been practising on their canoes for centuries. That’s not just down to the search for new activities close to home, but also because it’s easy to learn.
Feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, then dip your paddle in the water - after just a few minutes you find yourself paddling with confidence. At least, that’s the theory. But what happens in practice?
In my case, first inflate your board using quick, intense thrusts. In other words: pump the lever up, down, up, down, and keep breathing in between. A real upper arm workout. It’s hard to imagine a better warm-up.
Then it’s off to the waist-deep water and onto the board. The first challenge is to adopt a good stance. First on your knees, then on your feet, as the yoga trainer explains the technique for paddling and steering. “Hold the paddle close to your body and the board, dip it in and pull backwards with your lower arm while your hand stays on the shaft.”
Change every couple of strokes. Then we practice turning, sudden braking, zig-zags. After quarter of an hour I’ve mastered the basics. These manoeuvres are also balance exercises that demand intense concentration.
The constant search for equilibrium is ideal preparation for the yoga session, for which we go further out into the lake and lay the paddle sideways on the board. We start by keeping things simple. Lift one leg. Hold it. Put your hands together. Then it’s time for downward dog. Without eye contact I’m not so quick at executing all the commands.
I’m trying to keep the unstable board under control, a challenge that is made more difficult by the wake of the passing paddle steamer, the “Herrsching”. The focus is on staying steady. Then: lift your left leg, stretch your right arm forwards. I’m reminded to “enjoy it”. And to breathe. Ommm…
This is followed by the crane, also known as the crow and in Sanskrit as the bekasana. It’s meant to go like this: squat on the board, hands stretched out, knees in your armpits and feet in the air. Seriously? I’m starting to sweat: I’m really not at all sure I’m going to manage this.
Shortly before giving up I manage to hoist myself up on my slippery forearms and for two seconds both my feet are in the air. It’s crazy! Then I collapse and - in a very ungainly manner - I tip off the board into the water. Oh well, at least the cool water feels great. And honestly, I can’t imagine doing yoga without cooling off like this…