Mother/Daughter Quality Time - How about a SUP YOGA Retreat?

Nothing could be more perfect than a visit to one of Charlotte Piho’s SUP Yoga retreats in the Cook Islands for some paddleboarding as well as some serious downtime.  Sarah Hackford from Red Paddle Co Australia, on the trip she made with her daughter Celia. 

Situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Rarotonga, where the retreats are run, is the biggest island with a circumference of only 32kms. It is surrounded by reef which makes the waters around the island a sheltered turquoise lagoon, a tropical idyll perfect for SUP and SUP yoga beginners. There is also easily accessible open ocean paddling to challenge the more experienced paddler. 

The day's schedule generally started with a sunrise SUP yoga session followed by downtime then an afternoon or early evening paddle across to one of the other islands with more restorative SUP yoga. Charlotte, Pro-Paddleboarder and Aus SUP yoga Founder/Master trainer, has a fleet of Red Paddle Co boards and regularly uses the amazing Activ 10’8, a perfect paddle board for performing stretches. This board has additional thickness, which gives it greater rigidity and with added width (34″) it gives you a really stable platform, making the board perfect for yoga poses. For our first venture out there was quite a lot of wind so we knelt to paddle beyond the waves and reached the lee of a tiny island lagoon opposite. I managed to fall in after about 2 minutes when Tuhe, Charlotte’s father and retreat co-host, moved my board ever so slightly to attach the anchor. A pre-requisite for any good mother daughter bonding is that mum falls in first! After a few more dips in the ocean we all seemed to get the hang of it and classic yoga poses such as upward/downward dogs, cats, cows and pigeons were being confidently held by everybody. Savasana, or corpse pose, was everybody’s favourite and lying on your back on the board trailing your hands in the warm sea was a very special way to end a yoga session. 

Charlotte also made us do some quite challenging paddles against the wind and into some fairly choppy conditions. I think the yoga really helped get your stability on the board as if you can balance on one leg you can paddle through a few small waves, no worries! As Charlotte kept saying; feeling wobbly is all in your head… just stand up! There’s no reason that you can’t stand upright apart from your own confidence to do that. The tough love paid off and I definitely felt much less wobbly by the end of the week and completed quite a long downwind paddle without kneeling down once! 

One session was spent doing some acro-yoga balancing with 2 people on a board which was great fun and all good for improving the balance. The Red Paddle Co boards are very stable and Charlotte is convinced that it is easier to do some poses on a board than in the studio. The headstand being one of them, as you have the rails to hold onto for extra balance. We had a go…some of us getting wetter than others and Celia managing to get all the way up. 

We stayed at the Aremango Guest House which is basic, rustic, comfortable and very friendly island accommodation. The swinging hammocks in the garden were a perfect vantage point to watch the mother hen clucking over her chick (how appropriate) and the other free range chickens, cats and dogs before taking the short track to the beach to our meeting point. In our downtime, Celia and I hired bikes one day to cycle part way round the island, went snorkelling, read, chatted and visited the local coffee shop. With no wifi to hijack hours of the day answering emails or social media, it was a real opportunity for some completely chilled time together and a genuine introduction to life on the island. An experience I would thoroughly recommend.

Photos: Charlotte Piho, Celia Hackford

For more details of Charlotte Piho’s retreats see #charlottepiho

For more details of Red Paddle Co see #redpaddlecoau