Thursday, August 23, 2012

SUP: A Gateway to Balance

Stand Up Paddle Boarding: A Gateway to Balance 
by guest blogger: Tamara Jacobi

Tamara Jacobi is a certified health and nutrition coach who received her training at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She is the founder of Jungle Girl Health offering health coaching to individuals who are ready to feel and look their best. Tamara is the co-owner, hostess and expedition guide for Tailwind Outdoor, a family-owned eco-lodge and adventure tour company in San Pancho, Mexico.


Life has a way of knocking me off balance on a regular basis.  With the blink of an eye, things start spiraling out of control.  A few short years ago I might have reached for the cookie jar (not an effective or healthy solution). Today, I load up my Stand-up Paddleboard and head to the nearest body of water. 

You’ve probably heard of stand up paddle boarding (SUP), but have you tried it yet? As an athlete and a glutton for new challenges I was attracted to SUP several years ago.  Watching the stand up paddle boarders at my local surf break definitely got my curiosity up. When I stepped onto the paddleboard for the first time I was captivated by the sensation of walking on water.  But -- riding my first wave on the paddleboard was when I truly fell in love with this sport. What I didn’t know at the time was that paddleboarding would actually teach me the art of balance—not only on the board, but in life in general.


The sport of stand up paddle boarding is intrinsically about balance.  When you step onto the board, your muscles engage as they search for balance. Yet, what’s particularly fascinating to me is that as the body finds balance physically, the mind also seems to follow. Physical balance requires metal focus.  Once on the SUP board, you don’t really have much choice but to focus on balancing on the board -- unless you don’t mind falling off, which isn’t the worst thing if the water is warm!  I’ve noticed that when I’m on my paddleboard, my internal conversation is quiet, and my hurries, worries and stresses fall away. I am focused only on my body, the board and the water beneath me.  Life slows down and I find myself completely in the moment. 

Having discovered this, paddleboarding has become my favorite way of restoring balance to my life. It is my technology detox—no computer or cell phone. It is my dose of natural nourishment—water, sunlight, oxygen, and the life around me—I soak it all in.  It is a way for me to fully re-connect with myself.  Stand up paddle boarding has become an invaluable sort of meditation. As a holistic nutrition coach, I might call paddleboarding a healing sport that offers fitness, nourishment and balance for the body and the mind. 

From a fitness perspective, this sport is dynamic in so many ways. The simple act of standing on the board in flat water and paddling rhythmically forward engages muscles throughout the body, offering a great full body workout that is low impact yet challenging.  And flatwater paddling is only the beginning! I’ve taken my paddleboard out to my local surf breaks, where I’ve been delighted to ride everything from tiny little waves to head-high swells.  Stand up paddle boarding has been a wonderful addition to my Tailwind jungle lodge adventure tours and retreats down here in Mexico....come visit!. For those looking for less adrenaline and more zen, yoga on the paddle board is also an excellent option that can be a lot of fun. But it doesn’t end there! This summer I’ve been thrilled to bring my passion for paddleboarding to the rivers in Colorado.  Running my first rapids on white water was an amazing experience that I will never forget. 

Clearly, stand up paddle boarding has become and essential part of my holistic nourishment equation and I highly recommend that you give it a try!  SUP boards are becoming more and more available, so be sure to seek them out at your local body of water, whether it is a river, lake or ocean. 

Ready for some simple tips to get you started with embracing paddle boarding and tapping into the essence of balance? Check them out here!

Thank you, Tamara for this beautiful article on Stand-up Paddleboarding! I couldn't agree more that it restores balance to our lives, both on the water and off. Somedays, my 1 hour on the board is the only time I get to be free from technology all day long - and for that, I am forever grateful! Learn more about Tamara's journey living in the jungles of Mexico here: http://www.junglegirlhealth.com/

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