This thought came to mind while I was riding backwards way too fast in the middle of the ocean surrounding Oahu. The minute I (clumsily) climbed onto the paddle board in water a wee bit above my waist, I was tense. Even after walking through the (reasonably) warm ocean and tying the anchor down, as my instructor demonstrated, something about being right in the middle of the ocean is unnerving. Because even with that anchor, that paddle board was going to go wherever the ocean moved it. And I tensed up. And my instructor noticed and gave me patient instructions to let go of any tension. The more tense I was, the more my board swirled backward and moved faster. I realized my reaction to other people was a lot like how the ocean was reacting to me. The more I started to inhale and exhale, the easier it was to sit, turn, squat, plank, bend, stand, and relax. By the time the 1 hour 15 minute class was over, I'd fallen in the water at least five times. My hair was soaked, which was no big deal to me. My biggest goal in Hawaii was this: Completely ruin your relaxer. But I was having a blast!
And after trying to do tree pose in the water on a just-healed ankle (four weeks of physical therapy thanks to a pair of heels I twisted my ankle too far in), I fell off the board for the first time in 30 minutes and went completely underneath my board. Contact lenses still in my eyes. Goggles on the top of my head. Flop! I wiggled my way back up to the top and back onto the board to try tree pose at least three more times. I never did totally master it, but I had a lot of fun falling off the board, cracking up with my instructor who would give me high-fives to try again, and then testing out more poses with the rest of our paddle board yoga group.
Recommended Reading: "There's something about Hawaiian chocolate ... and Hawaii overall"
Getting on the paddle board for yoga
The best way to experience yoga is to let yourself relax and fully engage in the poses. At Yoga Kai Hawai’i, in a paddle board yoga class, the ocean is certainly going to make that more mandatory than an option. The patient, paddle board yoga instructors meet up in an easy area to find (whether on public transportation or your own car), near the far East side of Ala Moana Beach Park at Magic Island by Lifeguard Station 1E. And off you and your team go into the ocean, carrying your paddle board with you to get familiar and comfortable with the weight of it. Waist-high length into the water, and you’ll hop aboard. Even the instructor will admit, “Hopping aboard isn’t graceful, but you’ll certainly laugh trying to do it.”
If you’re tense already about the class, the ocean playfully swinging you around in the water—including backwards—will make you giggle with joy and release any leftover tension. With the anchor planted down into the water, the paddle board will only go as far as it is allowed to go, but the ocean will tap its weight on the board to make sure you’re never in one place too long. This is the ultimate perk for paddle board yoga participants who want to experience the ocean and yoga without being in the same place, and even better for those who bring along waterproof cameras for the best background shots. And there may even be a couple of gentle crash landings from other paddle yoga participants. That’s another way to break the ice with your travel friends and strangers.
Parasailing from 500 feet in the air
With secure straps, you and a friend can ride anywhere from 500 feet to 1,000 feet in the air to get a bird’s eye view of what Honolulu has to offer. There’s an option for beginners, standard, deluxe, and X-treme, depending on how high you want to fly, ranging from five to 11 minutes, to view Oahu’s south shore. From the peaceful height above, it’ll almost feel like being in an airplane once takeoff has ended: steady, light, with an even more impressive view.
After your eyes get a healthy view of your surroundings, and based on the time frame you chose, the parasailing team will lower you back to the boat with a brief splash in the water about neck- to waist-high, depending on your preference. Full disclosure: I was a bit bored even that high in the air. After the initial glance at Honolulu's surroundings, my next thought less than 60 seconds later was, "Now what?" Because I'm more of a thrill seeker, I asked for the "x-treme" drop into the water.
And off I went onto my next mission in Honolulu.