Stand-up paddle board yoga (SUPyoga) can be a release for Hongkongers trapped in the concrete jungle, according to SUPyoga instructor Charlotte Piho.
“There’s an amazing city that’s so vibrant, but it’s good for people to get out into nature,” she said.
“And when you go onto the water, as soon as you are there you are detached,” Piho added. “You don’t have your phone, or technology.”
Piho is based in Sydney and she hosts SUPyoga retreats in Australia and the Cook Islands. She visited Hong Kong to teach the water sport on Stanley Beach.
“Hong Kong is such an amazing environment for SUPyoga,” she said. “There’s so many places to paddle and such beautiful mountains. It’s a great escape for people.”
Piho has been dubbed The Real Moana, after the character in the recent Disney movie Moana about a Polynesia princess who finds her ocean going roots by travelling beyond her island’s reef.
“I think I was called it because I always want to go out deeper,” Piho said. “I’m always thinking about how to get out on the water. I feel that the ocean is very healing. As soon as I get to the water, I feel at home and very comfortable.”
Piho said that someone who helped develop the movie took part in one of her retreats and said that if she had met Piho before the movie they would have included her as an ambassador.
When Piho arrived in Hong Kong, she research how safe the water was because there was so much health and safety, such as shark nets.
“I found out it was safe,” Piho said. “It’s just in their heads. They are imprisoned when they should get out.”
The benefit of SUPyoga is that you are outside, in a natural environment, rather than in a studio, she said. Also, it requires you to balance.
“You’ve got to use your core to stay stabilised on the board,” Piho said. “You get a better work out all round, spiritually, mentally and physically.”
Watch: Charlotte Piho teaches SUPyoga in Hong Kong
Something changes in us when we travel. Through exposure to new cultures we leave with fresh perspectives and a greater appreciation for what we already have. This trip to #hongkong was extra special as I got to spend time with my beautiful Mum. Thank you so much @supyogahk for having me @deelicious11 @wholehealthyhappyhk I’m so proud of all you have done for the sport here and can’t wait to come back xxx And Mum I frickin love you and will cry when I fly out tomorrow x @adventureragnew @raffaellaloncao @redpaddlecoau
A post shared by Charlotte Piho (@charlottepiho) on Oct 29, 2017 at 10:56pm PDT
First timers, particularly those with a sporting or yoga background, try too hard to do complex poses on the board.
“The key thing about SUPyoga is that it allows you to detach,” Piho said. “It isn’t about doing poses, it’s very spiritual and healing exercise.”
Piho said she likes it when people fall in. It helps them relax when they realise that falling in is not so bad.
“They try so hard, but the key is too relax, have fun and not worry,” she said.
Piho has a degree in finance and worked in a stressful job for five high-end fashion brands.
But then, her appendix burst and she almost died.
“You only have one life and when you’re in hospital, that’s all that matters,” she said. “It is so good to work and grow in your career, but you have to enjoy it.”