Do you love yoga? Are you a standup paddle board (SUP) enthusiast and love being on the water? Now you can combine the two into one fun activity. If you’ve never tried it, but you’re curious about SUP yoga, then follow along.
SUP yoga is worth investigating if you love being on the water and are looking for a fun way to exercise and relax. Oh, and if you can breathe in and out and stand on one leg without falling, you can do SUP yoga with no problem! Read my great companion article on how to start SUP with Your Pup (on the Sloth Athletica blog) if you’re interested in paddleboarding with your dog.
BASIC YOGA POSES ON LAND
Whether you follow a few YouTube yoga health and wellness demonstrations, buy a DVD, or join a class, it’s a good idea to try your hand at a little yoga on land before hitting the water.
Sarah Sackville in her article Fundamentals of SUP Yoga – How to Get Started describes what SUP yoga is, “The yoga practice most commonly used is Vinyasa. Vinyasa practice is a series of “flows” that are designed to increase muscle strength, endurance, flexibility, and reduce levels of stress. They aren’t the crazy put yourself in pretzel poses, so they are better suited for a wobbly surface.”
Learn the Yoga Lingo
Downward-Facing Dog sounds a bit strange if you’ve never been to a yoga class before. Attend a class or two first and learn some of the basic yoga positions.
You don’t want to be looking around at the other paddlers, and possibly losing your balance, when practicing poses on your board for the first time. Going to a few classes will boost your confidence and help you stay dry when it’s time to try floating yoga.
Strengthen Your Core with SUP Yoga
Yoga on land will strengthen and tone your muscles making balancing on a board much easier. Other great benefits of yoga include increased flexibility, better circulatory health, increased energy and vitality and even weight reduction. The healthier your body, the better your SUP experience will be – makes sense, right?
Paddleboard Yoga Basics
You don’t have to be a yoga pro to try SUP yoga – in fact it’s the perfect activity for beginners. SUP yoga moves slower and involves simple poses compared to land based yoga – so you don’t have to worry about falling off the board – at least not too often.
Beginner SUP Yoga Poses
You can view many great videos on YouTube that show you how to do different yoga poses you can practice on your paddleboard. Get your feet wet with these beginner yoga poses:
- Easy Seated Pose – cross your legs, straighten your back and gently rest your hands on your knees as you breathe deeply.
- Bridge Pose – from lying down on your back, keep your feet grounded and bend your knees as you raise your hips. Keep your shoulders and arms on the ground.
- Child’s Pose – with your knees and hands on the ground (Table Top Pose) move your feet to touch each other and bring your hips back to rest on your heels leaving your hands stretched out in front of you.
- Downward-Facing Dog – starting from Table Top Pose, raise your hips and straighten your legs. Your body will form a triangle with the ground.
- Plank (you know this one) – from the downward facing dog pose, move your body forward so that you form a straight line from your head to your heels. Keep your arms vertical under your shoulders.
- Upward-Facing Dog – lie facing down, place your hands next to your ribs and push up raising your torso. With your quads engaged your knees might lift off the ground too.
- Low Lunge – from Table Top, slowly bring one foot forward to between your hands and then walk your hands to rest on your knee or thigh or raise them in the air. Alternate each foot.
- Pigeon Pose – from Table Top, bring your right knee forward and place it behind your right wrist with your ankle in front of your left hip. Your left leg will be stretched out behind you, and your arms will be stretched out in front of you. Alternate each side.
- Chair Pose – standing tall with your arms raised, lower your hips into a seated position. On the water, hold your paddle in the air.
- Savasana – lie on your back with your body relaxed – breathe s happy sigh of relief – you’ve just finished your first SUP yoga workout!
MASTER STANDUP PADDLEBOARDING
If you’ve never gone paddleboarding before, it’s probably a good idea to take a lesson or signup for a few paddling trips before trying SUP yoga. Getting the hang of standing on a board as the water moves beneath you will make your first SUP yoga experience drier and more relaxed (which is the main idea).
You can rent a board from most local surf shops or ask a friend that owns a paddleboard to show you the ropes before you invest in your own SUP gear and accessories.
Work on Your Balance
The more time you spend paddling, the less time you’ll spend in the water – balance is something your body learns, and it’s a big part of yoga. Take along your sense of humor and expect to get wet; this is a water sport after all – one you’ll probably fall in love with.
Build Your Confidence
Trying something new and succeeding is one of the best ways to boost your confidence. If you can learn how to SUP, you can learn how to do simple yoga moves while on your standup paddleboard. The more you learn and master, the more you’ll want to learn – it’s the best way to live.
THE RIGHT SUP YOGA GEAR
There are a few things you’ll need when entering the world of SUP yoga. It’s time to go shopping!
A Yoga Mat
It won’t be long before you realize that doing yoga on a hard floor, while practicing yoga on land, is uncomfortable. Get yourself an affordable yoga mat (you can find them easily) to avoid bruising your knees and ankles – the experience is meant to be soothing after all.
SUP Yoga Board
The right board will make a big difference in your SUP yoga adventure.
For SUP yoga, the best board to buy is the one you like best. An iSUP (inflatable standup paddleboard) offers the same “cushioning” effect as a yoga mat with the bonus of being lighter and more portable – yes! I happen to own an Isle Peak iSUP, which I love, but if I had the room to store a hardboard in my 2nd floor apartment, I’d probably own 2 paddle boards.
However; many people find iSUPs to be less stable, or trickier to balance on compared to a hardboard. There are a lot of great hardboards on the market that come with a full deck pad which are kind of like having a soft top across the entire surface of the board. Test a few boards to help you decide which style you like best.
You will also need a board with a wide deck for increased stability (and better balance). SUP boards for yoga can be found in 33, 35 or even 40’’ widths – 10’ 6’’ long by 30’ wide is a common size board that can be found online or at most SUP dealers.
To free up space on your board for your yoga poses, make sure you can attach your paddle alongside your deck (you don’t want it floating away). Also, consider an anchor or rope attachments for attaching yourself to a buoy (depending on where you do your SUP yoga).
JOIN A SUP YOGA CLASS
While some people who are experienced yogis prefer to do SUP yoga solo, it can be fun and worthwhile joining a class or group of people who practice regularly.
In a class you meet people, you push yourself harder, and you’re more likely to keep at it. You’ll also feel more comfortable when you realize you’re not the only one who falls in the water sometimes.
There are a few ways to find a class to join:
Ask at a local SUP rental place – any SUP yoga leaders will make themselves known to local SUP connections. With SUP yoga becoming increasingly popular you won’t receive any strange looks. If you see a class happening at the water’s edge, head down and ask some questions (SUP yogis are a friendly bunch).
Use Google and social media – on Facebook, search for “SUP yoga classes (insert town),” you’ll be amazed at what comes up. There are many Meetup groups devoted to paddleboarding and they often offer SUP yoga sessions free or for a small fee.
Explore gyms that have an indoor pool, some of these have started SUP yoga classes that take place year-round – great for people who don’t live near a large body of water. Lastly, don’t forget to chat with friends or colleagues, especially those interested in water sports; they’ll know the right contacts.
If you can’t find a SUP yoga class to join, grab a friend who’s interested and start your own group – nothing’s stopping you. There are so many reasons to float your yoga: the gentle and effective exercise, the love of water, a chance to de-stress and meet new people. Do it. You won’t look back.
Get fit, get wet, and have fun with SUP yoga!
Originally published at slothathletica.com