Is yoga your favorite way of keeping fit? Then, why not give it a fresh new spin? Instead of doing yoga at home or even your balcony, why not take out your SUP board off the rakes and do your yoga routine on the water. Plus side, not only will you get your exercise done, but you’ll have some grand pictures for your insta feed too.
And believe me, it is not really hard to do, even though it might look that way to the untrained eye.
If you already like practicing yoga on land, you’ll take to SUP yoga quickly with some patience and a few simple adjustments. But even if you’ve never tried yoga before, you’re bound to have a great time trying out SUP yoga. Just get to know the poses in this article so you have a few basics under your belt, and soon you’ll be pulling off some great poses!
Reasons to try SUP Yoga:
- Become more mindful: because you’re balancing on a totally different surface than you’re used to in your home yoga studio, you’ll need to be more present when practicing yoga on a SUP. Yoga focuses your breath and is naturally uplifting, so it’s a recipe for mindfulness.
- Train your muscles in a new way: in addition to the usual muscles worked by yoga, SUP yoga exercises even more muscles, especially your core, for a challenging, full-body workout.
- Challenge your yoga skillset: You’ll especially notice that you’re strongly utilizing your core and your legs as you challenge yourself to stay balanced on the water.
- Renew your passion for yoga: practicing yoga on the water will strengthen your love for it and provide a whole new depth to your repertoire of moves and capabilities.
- The outdoors Are good For you: Research has repeatedly shown that time spent in nature can improve your mood and reduce stress. In fact, even the act of regularly looking out at an ocean view can improve mental health, let alone actually spending time on the water.
- Yoga breathing Is meditative: yoga is a meditative practice for nearly all practitioners, and meditation is a well-known stress reliever. Yogic breathing also has many health benefits, and is a great way to center yourself in times of stress.
- SUP yoga makes you stronger And more flexible: SUP yoga is an invigorating full-body SUP workout, engaging numerous muscles from your arms, shoulders, and core down to your legs. Yoga also improves balance and flexibility, so you’ll stand taller and move more gracefully with regular practice.
- Your brain loves novelty: Switching your yoga routine from land to water sends your mind for a loop - in a good way. When our routines change and we experience new things, our cognition improves and our mind becomes more adaptable.
A few things to take care of:
- Avoid wind and boat traffic: when you’re first learning, choose sheltered stretches of water away from waves created by large boats. Go out on days with low winds until you’re more experienced.
- Take your time: slowly work your way up to the yoga poses you’ve mastered on land, keeping in mind that they might feel very different when you first try them on the water. If you plan to do SUP yoga on the ocean, practice on a lake before.
- Find a quiet and peaceful space: let’s be real: SUP yoga is mesmerizing to watch. It’s simultaneously soothing and aspirational, so it’s no surprise that people like to observe SUP yogis in action. If this makes you feel stressed out, especially when you’re first learning, try to find a more secluded spot further from the beach.
- The calmest, least windy time of day is the early morning: not only are morning SUP sessions are favorite and a great way to start the day, the wind is at its calmest in the early mornings.
- Keep two points of contact on your SUP: start with poses that involve two points of contact on the board at all times. Avoid poses that involve keeping just one limb on the board.
- Widen your stance: keep your feet at a wide stance on your board. Aim for a hip-width distance, even in poses where you’d keep your feet closer together if you were on land. This will give you a more stable base. You can narrow your stance as you improve your paddleboard yoga technique.
- Poses with lunges are best: opt for lunging poses like Warrior I and Warrior II as you get the hang of balancing on your board.
- Let setbacks be part of the learning process: there’s a reason we call our yoga rituals “practice.” Every day that we show up to the mat (or, in this case, board) is a little bit different, and there is no such thing as getting it perfect. Remember this as your body gets used to paddle board yoga. If you struggle to balance at first, take it as an opportunity to deepen your experience, breathe through it, and keep trying.
- Listen To Your Body: there may be certain yoga poses that you’ve mastered on land, but that are painful when you try them on your SUP. If this is the case, stop any time you feel pain. Your body is telling you something important, so listen!
- Set the intention for your practice: get more in touch with the spiritual and mindfulness benefits of practicing yoga by setting intentions. Trust us, you’ll love your practice that much more.
Poses for Beginners to try:
First things first: child’s pose, or balasana, is an important neutral pose when practicing yoga. It is your grounding point, and the pose you will start most classes from. If at any time during class you feel overwhelmed, in pain, or just in need of a rest, feel free to return to child’s pose and rest there for as long as you need to.
- Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Shvanasana): One of the most common yoga poses, downward dog, calms your body while strengthening your arms, legs, and shoulders.
- Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I): This standing pose helps you feel strong, focused, and powerful. It strengthens your legs, back, and your abs.
- Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II): Warrior II is a wonderful hip and inner thigh strengthener. It benefits both your upper and lower body.
- Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana): Cobra pose will stretch your shoulders and chest, build flexibility in your back, and lift your mood.
- Revolved Triangle Pose (Parivrtta Trikonasana): Revolved triangle is a pose to try after you have a bit of SUP yoga experience under your belt. It’s great for improving flexibility, balance, and hip strength.
- Boat Yoga Pose: Boat Pose (Navasana): This pose involves a seated position, with the legs extending upward at an angle. It’s excellent for balance and hip strength.
- Mountain Pose (Tadasana):This exuberant pose is powerful for your legs and arms.
- Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana): Pigeon pose is an incredible hip opener and provides a sense of calm. Take great care that you don’t feel any pain or pressure on your knees during this pose, and if it feels uncomfortable stop and ask a yoga instructor for help.
- Camel Pose (Ustrasana): Ease gently into camel pose to strengthen your backbend and stretch the front of your body. This pose is known to induce joy!
- Chair Pose (Utkatasana): Most yogis dread chair pose (hello, burning thighs), but you’ll certainly feel good when it’s over! It’s great for strengthening your quads.
- Corpse Pose (Shavasana):This relaxing, healing pose is usually done as the very last move in a yoga class. You’ll feel calm throughout your body and may experience a meditative effect. Some people consider savasana their favorite part of yoga class, and once you try it, you’ll see why.
How to choose the best paddle for your SUP Yoga?
Most All Around stand up paddle boards can be used for SUP yoga. That said, there are some paddle board features will make SUP yoga easier, so put them on your radar before choosing a board.
How to get the SUP board suitable for yoga?
- Inflatables, maybe, for Yoga: while you can do SUP yoga on a hard/epoxy SUP, an inflatable board (iSUP) provides a much better experience. iSUPs float higher above the water than hard SUPs, which makes it easier to move through your flow. They provide more stability during your yoga flow, are more durable, and are also super portable.
- Choose a board with a wide, stable deck: make sure your board is at least 31” wide, so you’ll have plenty of room to stretch and commit to your yoga poses. If you’ll be performing SUP yoga often, go with a board that’s at least 33” wide - the extra stability will come in handy and even though you’ll lose a little bit of speed.
- Choose an iSUP at least 6” thick you need an iSUP with a thickness of at least 6” to ensure it’s stable enough to support your practice. A thinner board will not properly support your weight and will not be stable enough for most yoga poses.
- Long, comfortable traction pad: choose a board with a soft, comfy traction pad that has a bit of extra length. A long deck pad will provide the space, grip, and comfort to move through your yoga poses - similar to a yoga mat.
- A dedicated mount to store your paddle: your board needs a paddle holder or bungees so you’ll have a place to put your paddle during the yoga session. We really love boards that come with built in paddle holders, like the Komodo. They come in super handy during our yoga sessions.