Spa Junkie at... Cotton House, Mustique

The battle between downward-facing dog and doggy paddle is a close one for our sea-bound yogi

Having warmed up onthe beach, Spa Junkie is atop her surfboard and revved up for someyoga…

We gently paddle for 10minutes, out into deep enough water and away fromsharp rocks, before stopping in an area where the sea is still. Charity ties the cordsof our boards to a buoy to prevent us from drifting off.  

We sit on our boards,ready to begin the sequence. I am instructed to lie flat on my back, tuck the paddle behind my calves and stretch out my hamstrings. My boardsways a little and as I lean in to watch what Charity is doing, I find myselfhaving to quickly realign my balance to keep in the centre of the board – and stay afloat.

I sit up, stretch outmy legs and hold the paddle up, to stretch the upper half of my body, and twistfrom side to side. I then kneel and, keeping the paddle raised above myhead for balance, again twist from side to side. Now for the hard part:I place the paddle on the board and push against it for support as I stand up.Just as I am fully upright, ripples from a fishing boat that’s cruising byreach us. I wobble, but don’t fall. We repeat the stretch-and-twist exercisestanding up. Its really tricky to stay balanced ­– I have to think about whereand how to position myself and use my core and legs to stay stable.

I am instructed to lie my paddle down and tie it to the board’s leg strapso that it won’t float away. I then get into a seated position andtake up a hero’s pose – right hand on my left knee, left handbehind me, then twisted to the right, gazing over my right shoulder. Inhalingdeeply, I return to the centre, exhale, and repeat the move on the other side.I remain on the board: it’s a relatively simple pose to start off with.

Now we move on to all fours and assume the downward-facing dog position. Ispread my fingers wide apart, curl my toes under me, and lift my derrière up inthe air, particularly focusing on pulling in my navel to the spine to engagemy core. Charity instructs me to hold the pose for 30 seconds. I’m a littlewobbly as I bend my head forwards, but still, no capsizing yet!

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“Not only does this pose activate the core muscles, it also helpsto elongate the calves and hamstrings, as well as strengthening the upper backand shoulders,” says Charity. “Now, try and walk your feet forward through your hands and sit down on your bottom. I try to make sense of this but my confidence falters. As I creep forwards, I begin to wobble uncontrollably, the board slips out from underneath me ad – splash – in the water I go.



I laugh. Charity has a twinkle in her eye: “The quicker you become used to theidea of falling into the water, the better you'll feel and the easier it willbecome,” she says. She waits for me to clamber back up and into akneeling position, and then it’s straight into a downward-facing dog. Itake it a little slower and successfully manage to transition into across-legged seated position.

“Good. Now, on your belly,” she calls. “Inhale and lift your upper body up, stretching your legs out straight behind you.” We slowly move into a cobra position. I am reassured by the contact with the board. From here we rise up into upward-facing dog. I press the tops of my feet into the board, and lift my thighs. Gently exhaling, I manoeuvre myself back into the downward-facing dog.

Now for the dreaded crescent lunge, a notoriously tricky move, even on dry land – if I overshoot the balance of the lunge by a fraction, it’ll be game over. Frantically grabbing the sides of my board in a last-ditch effort for balance, I lunge. Success. We then move into a bow pose followed by forearm plank. My arms quiver uncontrollably.

To finish, I sit on my heels, head resting on the board, arms stretched outbefore me in a child’s pose. I then move into a bridge, where Charityencourages me to hoist one leg up. Fearful of toppling off, my attempt israther pitiful.

“Time for relaxation,” says Charity. She instructs me to lie flat on myback, knees drawn up, my hands with the palms face up. “Let your hands float onthe water,” she says. I close my eyes and simply drift for a few minutes. It’sa huge relief after the preoccupations of staying afloat.

We paddle back to the shore. I feel excited and raring to go again –impulsively, I book another swim and paddle-board yoga class for the followingday.

My muscles, quads inparticular, ache for most of the afternoon.

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Next up: Spa Junkie’sbête noire – the dreaded headstands. Check back on Saturday February 16.

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