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Surf Yoga:

An Interview with SUP + Yoga Teacher, Georgina Shaffer

Georgina Shaffer brings laughter back into Yoga with SUP Yoga + Surf Yoga

Originally from Mexico, Georgina Shaffer is a SUP yoga (stand up paddle board yoga) and an Indo Surf Yoga instructor in Seattle, Washington. She was invited to Studio 191 to introduce Indo Board yoga as inspiration for the studio's Surf Yoga 191 classes, which will take off at the studio this June (with an ever-growing 6 to 10 classes per week).  

So what is Indo Board?  The inspiration behind the studio's Surf Yoga 191 class (and provider of the studio's boards) Indo Board are providers of wooden indoor surfboards specially made for yoga + balance training. In fact, they make yoga quite the balancing challenge! But this is not all, if you’ve conquered the first challenge, you may also place inflatable cushions under the board, which depending on how inflated they are, will increase the instability of the board and really make it feel like you are doing yoga on water.

What was your first experience with surf yoga?

Georgina Shaffer: My first experience with surf-yoga, I actually never took a class, I just decided to teach it. I sold the boards and the first year I taught SUP I lost a lot of money because I had to cancel a lot of classes due to the weather. I found out about Indo and I decided to buy the boards and now every time in the summer when it rains or it gets cold, I don’t have to cancel the classes, I just move it from the water to the studio.

What triggered you to become a teacher and promulgator of surf yoga?

GS: I love how it forces you to be present. I notice in my practice, every time I get up on my Indo board, I’m more careful to move. You actually move with intention instead than with momentum. When we are in a regular yoga class, we do move with momentum and with the Indo board and the SUP yoga I notice that we move a little bit slower. For me that is what yoga is supposed to be about: just take it easy and don’t rush the process of it.

Which is your favourite pose on the board?

GS: Shoulder stand (which is assisted headstand in Vinyasa). Actually, it’s funny, because that’s the way I learned how to do shoulder stand: on the board.

Which pose are you presently trying to master on the board?

GS: Handstand. It’s hard. On the Indo board it’s really hard because the board is very narrow. And on the surfboard, when I kick I normally push the board, so the board slips under me and I go into the water. At least you cannot break anything!

What do you say or do to convince people to try surf yoga when they are absolutely terrified of the idea?

GS: I just let them know their life is very short and they have to just try something different and it’s not jumping off an airplane, it’s just a little board and that’s all they have to do, just hop on it! An ongoing discussion in the yoga world today is about the disconnection between traditional and modern yoga. Surf yoga is definitely bait for this discussion.

What connections can you make between traditional yoga and surf yoga?

GS: To be present, to slow down your practice, the movement and even the way you feel your muscles.On the board, you are really focussing on what you are doing in that moment. Another thing is when you are outside doing the surf yoga, and the SUP yoga, just think that you are in touch with nature, that you don’t have that in a studio. Outdoors you are feeling the sun on your skin, the wind, you can see birds and trees. I mean it’s just another type of experience. When I found out about SUP yoga, I was like: puff, they just want to rip people’s money and then I did it and I was IN LOVE. In love with the feeling. That is the best savasana,I’ve had, just laying down on my board, feeling the water with my fingers and closing my eyes or even just looking at the sky, the possibility, all that you can see there is just endless.

How do you bring spirituality into your practice?

GS: It’s hard to bring spirituality into surf yoga, because, again, I want people to feel comfortable, I want them to really think more about having fun. I think it’s just being grateful and thankful for everybody that is in the class and everybody can practice their own spirituality in their own way. Again, you are outdoors, common! I believe in God, I believe in Krishna, I believe in anything in the moment that will make me feel calm, comfortable, with no worries, with just the power to feel secure, that sometimes even your brother, your sister, your mother, your kids cannot give you, that powerful somewhere up there, that’s what I practice. I do do my OM, but again, I teach in the Western world, we’re not in India, I cannot call it really a perfect yoga class, that’s not what we learn here. That’s my perspective.

How do you think surf yoga can contribute to the yoga world?

GS: There’s a lot of people that feel relaxed, that let go of judgment. And I think I’m a perfect example of that. Normally in Western yoga you are just looking for the typical yoga teacher: white girl, skinny, perfect body, amazing postures. For me the practice of yoga, it doesn’t matter if you are white, black, yellow, green, if you are big, small, tall, at the end, I think what counts is what you really have inside, in that part in between your chest, it’s the heart that you bring into your practice and with everyone that comes in touch with you. I think that’s the real practice of yoga.

Do you think surf yoga will get big?

GS: Well I’ve been teaching for three and a half years, and I don’t see a lot of studios popping out, if we become big…I don’t know, i hope so! Because it’s just another way to integrate fun into your practice, to build stability in every single way, either in your body or in your life too. I don’t know, I don’t have an answer for that. I wish I could see the future and say: “Oh yeah, we’re going to be ruling the world, the sup yogis!"


Interviewee: Georgina Shaffer

Interviewer + Writer: Zoe Hofstetter

Photos + Video: Mariana Padilla (Georgina's sister with her Go Pro)

Studio 191's Guests + Team for making this evening beautiful


Surf Yoga Sessions are a fun and challenging way to challenge and play with the bodies balance control systems. We're often unaware of our basic ability to balance (until we lose balance, of course) as so much of our movement as human beings is dependent on balance and coordination. We undertake most movements in the day barely noticing our supreme balance and coordination skills. In a Surf Yoga Session, that will all change; the session is both a physical body workout and a deeply grounding mind practice. In physical forms of yoga we attain presence often through paying close attention to movement and the sensations that arise with each movement. Your mind will need to stay present to maintain your balance and stability. In this sense, we apply a more yogic element to the class - we will pay attention to breath, movement and the mind's natural fluctuations as we undergo this combination of yoga + fitness on and off the board.

Surf Yoga Sessions include board work, mat warm-up + cool-down, the use of resistance bands and low-weight balls, as well as wooden sticks. That's right. Most of the class will be spent on the board but there may also be aspects of mat work - designed to enhance your physical results. Studio 191 brings you Surf Yoga Sessions last for 45 minute + are designed to bring you maximum results, intensity and enjoyment. 


This June, Studio 191 will begin Surf Yoga 191 with 6 weekly classes. Join the classes with your Studio 191 monthly membership, a single class pass, our intro offer or our new Surf5 deal - 5 surf classes for €50 (valid for 2 months). Find out more: 

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