Why? For a total body workout, of course. But head somewhere warm like Dubai as an unplanned dip in the water is likely
Bum in the air, palms flat, I stretch my hamstrings while holding a downward dog pose.
Wobbling a little, I maintain my balance as I lower myself on to all fours and lean back into child’s pose – only to promptly slip off my board and splash into the sea.
When I first heard of yoga paddleboarding I thought it sounded serene. What could be better than doing a sun salutation under the sky, surrounded only by lapping waves?
But balancing on a board isn’t as easy as it looks.
Wanting to jazz up my yoga practice, I’d come for a 90-minute yoga paddleboarding class at Watercooled, a watersports centre near Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
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I start by finding my balance on all fours, then grab my paddle and slowly straighten up. Without locking my knees, I stand hip width apart and paddle through turquoise waters till I’m three metres deep. I don’t see any fish, but signs warn of manta rays and sea urchins.
The class takes part in a harbour, so the water is calm and the bottom is sandy. But even though Dubai enjoys year-round sunshine, I’m here in winter, so the water is still cool.
My instructor clips all five students’ boards to the same rope, so when the yoga begins there’s no chance of drifting off – unless you fall asleep in dead man’s pose, that is.
We run through a series of basic moves, including the plank and cobra, so I stretch on my front and look to the sky. For obvious reasons symmetrical poses are best, explains the instructor, to maintain an even weight across the board. So one-handed hand stands are out, but I manage a warrior pose, stretching my right arm forward and my left leg back, before carefully swapping over.
By the end of the session, I feel like I’ve had a proper workout. The paddling worked my biceps, balancing toned my calves and the yoga worked my core, so I know I’ll ache the next day.
We end the class meditating flat on our backs, eyes closed. Bobbing on the water, all I can hear are the boards clipping one another and waves rippling over the edge.
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Dubai might be better known for its world-class malls than its watersports, but the only souvenir I brought back was a new-found love for paddleboarding. And in my book, that beats a camel key ring.
Workout: at Watercooled Dubai Watersports Centre. Yoga paddleboarding classes cost £30 and you can also go kayaking, windsurfing, kitesurfing and sailing.
Spend an afternoon: exploring the souks on the north side of the creek and the historic quarter, Bastakiya, on the south bank near the Grand Mosque. Meander the alleyways and you’ll come across independent galleries and cafes like XVA, where you can sip camomile tea in the courtyard.
Stay at: a seaview room at the four-star Ocean View Hotel in Dubai costs £140 per room per night.
Getting there: return flights with Emirates start from £460.
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