On Lake Griebnitzsee, watersports fans can breathe in history. Literally. What was once a part of the inner-German border between the GDR and West Berlin, is today a place where locals and visitors alike can enjoy a session of SUP yoga. Finding inner peace at a place where political peace was once restored? We needed to try it out!
These days, it seems that the whole of Germany loves stand-up paddling – from the Alpine lakes of Bavaria to the harbour waterways of Hamburg. So it was only a matter of time before SUP-inspired yogis turned their boards into floating mats. A particularly interesting idea for yoga studios facing their own special challenges with corona…
Which is exactly what Angelique Eichenseher thought; a yoga trainer from Potsdam, who now offers SUP yoga on Lake Griebnitzsee. The discovery of a slower pace of movement on the water, the sensation of merging into nature, or of feeling the wind on your face – all this left her so fascinated, that she quickly decided to turn the lake into her outdoor teaching space.
On the way over to a little bay, protected from the wind, the faces of our group of novice stand-up-yogis are already starting to break out in huge grins. The wide SUP boards we have are stable and easy to manoeuvre around the lake, giving us a feeling of safety.
Once we’ve arrived in the bay, we tether our boards together and then, to warm up, stretch ourselves out along our floating platforms. The waves of the lake rock us like babies. We inhale and exhale calmly, steadily and before we know it, we have eased into deep abdominal breathing.
All a Matter of Balance
When Angelique encourages us to let our hands fall into the cool water, it almost feels like giving the lake a gentle hug. Which is fitting, because if any lake could use a hug, it’s this one. Up until 1989, the southern shore of Lake Griebnitzsee was a hermetically sealed barrier, and off bounds to citizens of the GDR, approaching it from Potsdam.
Today, people from Berlin, Potsdam and guests from across the world can all enjoy this natural oasis. As long as no-one disturbs you, that is… During our first lesson of SUP yoga we actually developed a bit of an aversion to motorboats. Not only because of the noise, but because of the waves they cause.
It wasn’t really a surprise that an hour of SUP yoga turned out to be more demanding on our sense of balance than an hour of yoga on land. But we didn’t expect the “three-legged dog” to become quite so unstable when a couple of boats appeared on the horizon. Or the “warrior” to become a nail-biting exercise in staying dry! While we wobble, Angelique smiles knowingly and encourages us to stick at it – or on it.
The beauty of SUP yoga is that it allows us to unconsciously train our deep muscular system. In order to carry out the asanas on the unsteady board, our body tension becomes much more important than it is on land.
Angelique Eichenseher, yoga teacher from Potsdam
And so an hour flies by, with all kinds of exercises. Some sitting down, some on our knees or on all fours. During the breathing and relaxation at the end of the session, it feels like we’re floating. In the here and now, on this lake – and in this city, with its incredible history.
The 90-minute SUP yoga sessions from Angelique take place on Lake Griebnitzsee every Sunday from May to the end of September. A session including board costs €30 for adults and €25 for students. Participants who bring their own board pay just €20 per session. Further information (in German) at www.yoga-in-potsdam.de/sup-yoga/.