Boards, rowing and balance. What is the original sport that sets the trend in Punta del Este?
PUNTA DEL ESTE (Special Envoy).- In the immense sea, an equation: board, rowing and balance. From Punta Ballena to José Ignacio, the summer trend in the more than forty kilometers of beach is replicated alone or in large groups: stand-up paddle (SUP). The sport, which consists of the movement of a sailor with a paddle while standing on a large surfboard, has become the protagonist in an atypical season this year. Yoga postures were also moved there, with classes that mobilize hundreds of people per week in search of a different experience.
Mariana Vega – known by students and for her more than 20 thousand Instagram followers (@ticky_yoga) like Ticky– she is a yoga teacher, and one of the influencers who has managed to attract a large movement of tourists in the summer trend. Hand in hand with the discipline with origins in Polynesian villages, the 31-year-old leads SUP Yoga classes for twenty women about three times a week.
On a warm and lonely January morning, Ticky welcomes THE NATION and her students -all women- on a parador on Desembocadura beach, in La Barra. Between celebrities like the cook, Maru Botona, and the Uruguayan model Claudia Fernández, a dozen Argentine tourists and another small handful of Charrúas arrive minutes before 9.
“It’s the first time I’m going to get on a table, but I’ve been doing yoga for years,” says Luciana Camacho, 46, confidently. A quick survey shows that the experience of the students is linked above all to the ancient practice of yoga, while the exercise in balance on a board is part of the new challenge.
Contrary to the nocturnal style that many vacationers choose, Punta del Este becomes a summit of the healthy scene. Among diverse and well-varied options available in the Uruguayan resort, the growth of the SUP Yoga discipline flows through the eastern currents.
“It is a unique experience to be in contact with the sea, to meditate in movement and at the same time enjoy the landscapes it offers you,” says Gabriela Raggio, a member of the stable cast of Ticky’s students. “Each outing we do is a different and incredible experience”, he adds, while extending an invitation to all the curious who have not yet tried the discipline.
The class begins in the middle of the morning, with a short meditation session. “This is always something new and it doesn’t make a difference if it’s the first time you get on a board”, communicates Ticky to the group of students, and remarks: “It is always a different experience”.
After a brief introduction -which includes recommendations such as always setting a reference point before jumping into the water-, a recreational paddle begins. On the Maldonado stream, the almost twenty girls (and Nacho, the lifeguard) start the wind in favor, which leads to a session of about 45 minutes where the technique is deepened for a greater mastery of the table.
While some experienced ones manage to return to the meeting point with a triumphant pose -among them, Maru Botana was the class champion-, others struggled a little more with the first stage of the challenge. Slips are not falls, but part of learning.
Once assembled, the boards are tied to improvised buoys to generate greater stability in the star stage of the experience. Thus begins the practice of Hatha yoga (a version for beginners), an activity focused not only on enjoying the connection with the water, but on empty the toxicity that of every day. “Having joined the practice of yoga with nature takes me to another place, water moves me,” says Ticky, who confesses that each class is unique. “Sometimes we all leave crying, other times we all laugh. The key is to relax and enjoy it.”
Converted into one of the most convening influencers in the wellness universe of Uruguay, Vega came to yoga after a vocational crisis. “In 2017 I arrived in a corner of India, on the Himalayas to train as a Hatha Yoga teacher with Surinder Singh, one of the most renowned yogis and teachers in India,” she recalls. His preparation continued in Costa Rica, where he perfected his knowledge of the discipline he preaches today.
While she teaches yoga classes throughout the year from her studio in the charming neighborhood of Carrasco, in Montevideo, for two years she has taken the practice to the water, where the girls follow her in large groups. This summer, his account was overcrowded. The queries do not stop entering the Instagram message box.
“You do not need experience in yoga or paddle”, Ticky insists by promoting this summer’s practical trend and demystifying a high level of demand to enjoy. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been on a board, or how old you are,” he says, noting that it’s a safe activity because of the stability that boards provide.
From the shore, the yoga class on the surfboards is also enjoyed. A dance of postures in the water serves as a theatrical scene for those who enjoy the parador. After the session, the girls snort with smiles on their faces. With unarmed, loose bodies, they say goodbye. Although exercise is not always on the agenda on vacation, discipline became a tool to start the year with well channeled energy.