If it were any other white sand beach, any other all-inclusive, and other palm-fringed island, I could have stayed within the confines of our resort for three days quite contentedly. But we were in Aruba. And there was one thing I just couldn’t leave Aruba without doing.
What could possibly pull us away from our rigorous routine of relaxing and recharging? Signing up for a SUP yoga class at Island Yoga, home base of Instagram star and New York Times bestseller Rachel Brathen — also known as Yoga Girl.
Angie and Steph had yet to catch wind of the Yoga Girl phenomenon, which Kristin and I were more than willing to fill them in on. I love Instagram and enjoy using it to keep up with the day-to-day lives of personal friends and family, to get inspired by artists I admire and to follow along on my fellow traveler’s journeys. I don’t really follow any of the big “Instagram celebrity” accounts — or celebrity Instagram accounts, for that matter — but Yoga Girl is one exception.
What can I say? I feel a kinship with this down-to-earth chick who loves yoga, travel, and animals — she and her husband are actively involved in the Aruban rescue organization they founded — and spends most of her time on a remote island paradise. I mean when you really break it down, the only difference between us is 1.5 million Instagram followers! Well, that and a baby pet goat (but I’m working on it.)
I was pretty pumped when I learned Rachel was actually on the island — her crazy travel schedule means she’s often on the go — and there was a possibility she might personally lead our class. Alas, when we arrived we were introduced to one of the Island Yoga staff instructors, Rose — who was absolutely lovely. We were also signed in by Rachel’s husband Dennis, with whom we chatted about our mutual love for Bonaire. While a personal assistant buzzing around reminded us that this was no ordinary SUP yoga class, I loved that the couple is still relatively hands-on in their original business, even when their social media followings have taken off to a level that could allow them to drop everything else.
At $50 per person, the Island Yoga class is the priciest I’ve ever taken, though sessions in the equally expensive islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Bermuda came close (classes in Tampa and Cusco now seem like a bargain in comparison.) Nope, SUP yoga is not a cheap hobby. That said, classes are still relatively rare around the world — I’m obsessed and I’ve managed just five so far! — and so I consider it a worthy investment to take one anytime I see one offered that aligns with my schedule.
I was shocked when Rose asked for brief introductions and several in our class revealed they’d never done yoga nor been on a paddleboard — seems like an interesting combo to try both for the first time, together — which may have accounted for the fact that our class was a tad more beginner oriented than I expected. That said, one of the things I love about SUP yoga is that it takes poses that you think you’ve totally nailed on solid ground and makes them new and challenging all over again. (Which, contrary to what Kristin believes, in my mind does not include headstands. Her casual claims that inversions are a breeze leave me laughing — y’all, I’ve been working on headstands on dry land for over a year and have yet to nail one! Don’t despair if savasana is the only part of a class that doesn’t threaten to dunk you in the water.)
super impressed with my acrobatic pal
While there was another class starting soon after ours, we did sneak a little time to play around and take pictures after the last sun salutation. This was one of my favorite parts and reminded me that I don’t need to wait until someone is offering a structured class to practice SUP yoga — I can rent a board and give it a go anywhere.
Two things to note — while I’m all about the power hour when it comes to traditional yoga class times, I do think SUP yoga needs to be a solid ninety minutes at minimum as it takes so long to set up. While our boards were anchored before our arrival, it still took some time to get settled.
Also, this class featured a board anchoring system I haven’t seen before — they were strung together on a line. From the teacher’s perspective, I can see how this is an easy way to set up the class and it keeps students close (and from following the Island Yoga instagram account, I know it makes for great photos). But from a student’s perspective, we were super close together and I felt like I took less risks throughout the class as I was really nervous of falling over and crashing not into the water but into my fellow yogis. While it definitely involves a more arduous set up, I prefer the individual anchoring system more (or, in some cases, the no-anchor system where the class free-drifts together).
But overall? I absolutely loved another chance to practice SUP yoga in paradise! And I can’t lie, it was a blast to fan-girl out with Kristin. What’s not to love about someone who inspires others to move, stretch, and heal? Rachel and Dennis have recently announced the launch of their own yoga studio — yet another reason to return.
Aruba was a blast — and I’m glad Island Yoga was a part of it.
Have you ever taken a celebrity yoga or fitness class?
What’s your favorite way to stay active on the road?
I’ve been following Yoga Girl mainly on FB for almost three years now – she is such an inspiration! Amazing that you got to do SUP while in Aruba! Awesome 🙂
Oooo, I will have to check out her Facebook page 🙂 I never think to use Facebook for anything like that!
Omg Alex, you’re so PRO in doing yoga, and to be honest, I’ve never heard of SUP yoga before and I must say – it sounds tempting. I’m not even sure is there any here in Croatia, but I should definitely check it out. Of course it would take some time for an absolute beginner like me to even achieve a balance, but I’ll keep on trying 🙂
It sure is a fun process to try! Check it out — you might find a class near you.
Aw, so you didn’t get to meet her? Bummer! I’ve gotta go check out her Insta now though, I’m so intrigued. Looks like such a fun way to practice yoga 🙂
Yeah I was pretty bummed! It would have been a very exciting moment. But I recovered pretty quickly… how could I not in this setting!
Yoga is one of those things I’ve always wanted to do, but I’ve been too daunted by it seeing people bend into various shapes! One of these days though.. One of these days… 🙂
Don’t get intimidated by the bendy bits 🙂 Those might be the fun parts to photograph, but it’s about so much more than flexibility!
I want to take a SUP yoga class so bad! I tried SUP for the first time in Australia this past year and I did my own version – so fun!
Awesome! I like to play around on board sometimes but I definitely need the structure of a class, ha.
That looks so fun and cool! I have just gotten into yoga, and I am really enjoying myself. Actually, you were my main inspiration for beginning Alex!! So, Thank you!!
Wow, that’s amazing to hear Cate! Enjoy the journey 🙂
Have you admit, I’ve never heard of this either! It looks like fun, however, it also looks super challenging. I’ve been practising yoga for years now but I’m still not sure that I wouldn’t end up in the water for most of the hour 🙂
That half the fun 😉 Try it in the tropics… you won’t mind if you fall in!
I’ve been trying to do a handstand/headstand for almost a year as well and I still haven’t managed to do it, which I know is fine, but it’s also super frustrating, especially when I see other people doing it so easily :'( I try to remind myself that every body is different and the more I’m pushing it, the longer it will take to do it, but daaaaamn. Phew! Sorry about that, just had to get it off my chest. Lovely photos <3 Looks like a great experience!
I know how you feel D! I’ve been going to inversions workshops and putting the time in too, but it hasn’t come easily to me either. My instructor reminds me to focus on thinking “today I’m going to work on my headstands” as opposed to “today I’m going to DO a headstand” — using language that doesn’t set you up to feel like a failure if you don’t nail it but you do make progress. Enjoy the journey!
Owning a baby goat is far from being an unreasonable life goal. I wish you luck in your endeavour!
Ha ha! Thanks LC — working on it 😉
Great post Alex! Definitely something unique to do while in Aruba, so thanks for sharing! Hope to try it if I make it there later this year.
You’re very welcome Pat. Thanks for reading!
I’m not going to lie…I’ve never taken a yoga class in my life BUT I’ve read your many posts on doing yoga on the road and I’ve always wanted to try! I’ve seen so many different types of classes, but just haven’t given it a shot yet. Perhaps a beginner’s class is in order soon!
Go for it, Amanda! Finding new yoga classes is one of my favorite things to do while traveling these days 🙂 It’s been a fun journey to be on!
Wow, great photos and it looks like an amazing experience! I have taken on yoga to help me with tri training, but I’m not a real natural yogi – I can’t imagine trying it on a paddle board! I’m sure I’d spend more time in the water than on the board, but it looks like a fantastic adventure!
Well good for you for continuing to try something you aren’t a natural at 🙂 I’m super flexible but am always working on strength and balance. People go to the mat (or board!) for so many reasons — part of what keeps it interesting.
Yoga Girl! I feel like every time one of her posts pops up on my feed that I already know her. She definitely has the whole relatable social media star thing down (I mean, besides the fact that she can twist herself into a pretzel!) ..sad you didn’t get to meet her, though 🙁
SUP Yoga looks SO fun! And scary.. I mean we’re talking about doing yoga on a wobbly board wearing nothing but a bikini. That’s some real daredevil shit in my opinion!!
Maybe I’ll meet her another time… I know she frequents the festival circuit as well 🙂
You should definitely google Brittany Trubridge’s pictures. Popularity wise, you may not heard of her but her fluidity and yogic moves are beautiful. You will love her underwater yoga pictures. She is now living in Florida. (Used to be in Bahamas)She really exudes a calming vibe.
I will check her out, Julia — thanks! She sounds amazing.
SUP Yoga looks spectacular.
I struggle to even be able to do yoga on land, let alone on a paddleboard! But there is something truly beautiful about being able to do yoga with that surrounding, and that amazingly blue water!
Give it a try — you might surprise yourself! I love it when that happens 🙂
Wow! SUP yoga looks and sounds amazing. Should I take this celebrity yoga for my gf? I think it will be a new challenge for her and help become calm & healthy.It’ really great cause she will flow and move while floating and enjoying all the elements of the landscapes and beautiful ocean sunsets. Do you think ocean around Australia will be comfort for SUP yoga?
It really depends on the water conditions, Alex, but I’m sure there’s plenty of SUP yoga in Australia! I can’t recommend it more highly!
Wowza. What a beautiful place for some SUP yoga! And I have to agree Rachel and Dennis are pretty rad!
It was great to meet Dennis, he was as nice in person as he is on Insta!
I would love to take one of Rachel’s classes! What an amazing experience.
It’s definitely on my wish list for someday! Maybe at a retreat or festival 🙂
This sounds amazing! I love SUP and I love yoga, so this is a great combination I haven’t heard of before. I’m gonna find out if there are more of those classes on other places. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
It’s definitely becoming more popular around the world. Good luck finding a class Jessica!
Cute! I hadn’t seen many of these photos yet. And I’m totally in agreement with you that 90 minutes should be standard. I felt like we really didn’t get into the groove until it was time to wind down at the end.
I think $50 for a 90-minute class would be totally worth it.
P.S. Please tell me we can take that class in MV this summer!!!
Hm, not sure if they’ll be running those in early June (water is cold then) but we can definitely do the aerial hatha class I wrote about a while back!)
I am so pumped you got to take an Island Yoga SUP class! Yoga Girl is my driving force behind wanting to go to Aruba. It looks like you had fun!
I bet she brings a lot of yoga-enthusiasts down there! Would be funny to know how many 🙂
That’s it-I’m sold! I’ve been thinking about taking a SUP class for awhile now. Just looked up classes and pricing and am adding it to my summer bucket list!
Awesome! I wish someone would offer them here in Koh Tao. Hopefully I can get to another one this summer in Martha’s Vineyard!
Loved this article!! I recently just tried SUP and would love to do a Yoga SUP class…so cool that you did this in Aruba! Love your blog by the way!!
Thanks Natascha! Yes, the Aruba class was a lot of fun. Just did another one in Chicago recently and loved it!
Thanks for sharing! We have been looking at Aruba for our 1 year anniversary in October (it’s outside the hurricane belt!), and taking a yoga class with Yoga Girl or at least at her new studio is high on my list. How did you get around the island or what would you recommend the easiest way to get around Aruba when staying at an All-Inclusive?
Hey Sarah! We only left the property once in our three days there (we were basically decompressing from a crazy busy dive trip in Bonaire!) and we just took a cab that time. If you want to do more exploring, I’d consider renting a car!