I don’t do yoga. In fact, I can’t even touch my toes. So when Stand Up Paddle-board (SUP) Yoga started to grace the cover of every fitness and lifestyle magazine and the requests to put on a SUP Yoga class came pouring in, I figured “hey, those that can’t do, teach.. right?” Just kidding! I hired the best instructor in town and away we went. This added another program to my Stand Up Paddle-board business that I recently started this past summer, called Fearless Females. And now after reflecting on a great first season on the boards, I can’t help but think that sometimes my relationship with God is kind of like doing Yoga on a Stand Up paddle-board.
As mentioned, I’m no Yogi. As an athlete I can respect the flexibly aspect that can be obtained by doing yoga, but I truly believe that strength comes from the Lord, and not from a person’s centre or from “within”, so hear me out as I explain my theory and some experiences from this past summer.
Yoga is all about balance and so unfortunately, when you’re doing yoga on a board in the water, the consequences are a little more severe when you lose your balance. Every time I take a beginner out, I make sure to explain the parts of the board, and explain “the sweet spot”- the position on the board where you will find the most balance. Too much one way or too much another and you’ll end up in the drink! Keeping this sweet spot in mind is crucial when doing yoga on the board, and this brings me to my first point… having a good relationship with God requires balance. I used to find myself way too far forward – always worrying and fretting about what was next, trying to control the future, and getting ahead of myself instead of staying balanced and leaning on God. I’m often too far to the right – consumed by friends, social gatherings, fitting in, or I’m too far to the left and lusting over the things of this world instead of focusing on His kingdom.
I continually tend to find myself trying to do everything on my own; in turn taking a step backwards and leaving that prefect balance and sweet spot with God. This reminds me of my favorite (and most hilarious) fall of the summer – it was almost slow motion as one of the girls began to lose her balance and took a step back, this was accompanied by a panicky “No!”, and another step back again with a frantic “No” as the board started to move forward! She continued to take a few steps backward until there was nothing left but open water! This made for a lots of great laugher and fun, but I can’t help but think that I continue to find myself taking those steps backwards and landing flat on my back, only it’s not water, and it’s not so funny. Luckily, with God’s grace, just like in paddle-boarding, we can hop back on, find our sweet spot in perfect harmony with the Lord, and continue on our journey.
After our first couple of classes I couldn’t help but laugh every time I saw the perfect image of a girl doing SUP yoga. Not a ripple in the water, a prefect sunny day, the girl standing on her head.. completely dry.. sureeee! This makes for a lovely picture, but when you show up to the lake with a group of eight+ excited participants and that strong north wind is blowing, some adjustments need to be made. We quickly and resourcefully solve the problem of drifting away from each other and blowing into shore by posting up in the weeds.. yes we park ourselves right in the thickest, most potent weed patches we cab find – the thicker the better! Nothing like breathing deeply inches away from warm seaweed, and dead floaters to create that “Zen” yoga atmosphere and truly connect with nature.
Sometimes it’s easy to portray this prefect image of being a Christian by going through the Christian motions; showing up to church every Sunday, saying things like “I’ll pray for you” and conveying this spiritual images that on the outside all look fine and dandy and right with the Lord, but really when we take a second and think about it – our relationship is “in da weeds” (great Jamaican saying for “in trouble”). Busyness consumes our spiritual time, praying and talking to God seems farther and farther apart, and our bible seems to be getting buried farther and farther in the bottom drawer. There has definitely been times, dare I say seasons, where I’ve been doing life with God “in the weeds”.
I’ve come across every excuse in the book on why people can’t come paddle-boarding, but then they give it a try and volia! Some direction, words of encouragement, a little guidance when the water gets rough and they are paddling like champions! Sometimes, I’m the one with all the excuses and doubt as God tugs little strings and puts different ideas, things and people on my heart. But again with some direction from his word, encouragement and guidance from other believers and mentors …and Volia! However, even when I fail or fall off, with God’s grace he continues to pick me up and encourage me as I climb back up and try it again.
Did my yoga skills improve this summer? Probably not. I still can’t touch my toes and I will again have to hire someone next year to teach the class, but we had fun, shared great laughs and survived our first season of SUP yoga! Who knew yoga could teach me so much about faith?!?
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Amanda Newhouse is a young entrepreneur, running her own company called “Fearless Females” which aims to link ladies in Niagara to action, adventure and actives! In the summer you can find her out on the water – running her Stand Up paddle board programs or with wakeboard in hand, and in the winter she enjoys hitting the Slopes with Snowboarders for Christ . Keep up to date on the all her Fearless Females activities by liking them on facebook: Fearless Females Niagara and visiting SFC online.