Practicing Yoga on a stand up paddle board (also known as SUP yoga) combines the sport of stand-up paddle boarding with yoga asanas (or postures).
These asanas are performed on the paddle board out on open water, and by practising Yoga on a SUP, it can reinvigorate you and push you to become an even better practitioner of yoga (yogi) than you thought possible – all while breathing in fresh air, soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the natural splendor of floating on water.
What makes SUP yoga more intense than doing it in a studio is that the constant motion of the water fires up all your core muscles – this cannot be done practising yoga on land. You will need a strong sense of balance and posture – for example, during downward dog, if you have more weight on one side, your board will let you know and you’ll most likely end up in the water!With SUP yoga, it’s all about working the midsection. The strength required to balance on the board and generate power and movement while paddling stems from these core muscles — from the deep transverse abdominis to the rectus abdominis and obliques. Adding yoga asanas further helps to challenge your balance, and builds both strength and flexibility throughout your entire body.
The ideal stand up paddling board for SUP yoga needs to be wide enough to be able to keep balance whilst you practise your asanas. Thirty one inches (31”) is a good width to look at.
Most paddle board lengths will suffice, but anything over ten feet (10’) will give you extra buoyancy on the water. For a rigid paddle board, The Greco 11ft Stand Up Paddle Board is a great starting point.
Inflatable SUPs are also very good for practising SUP yoga. As they have a softer surface area, they can be more comfortable for laying down on, but still be sturdy enough to hold you through all yoga poses. The Tower Xplorer Inflatable paddle board or Isle 10ft Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board are both certainly worth a look if an inflatable SUP is what you are after.
If you want to try it yourself, start with some seated asanas, as they will give you a feel for the paddle board without having to try and keep your balance as well. This will also allow you to feel the movement of the water underneath your paddle board. Don’t forget to take deep, mindful breaths (from the diaphragm). Once you feel comfortable with these, move to some standing asanas. The Mountain Pose is one of the easiest standing asanas to transition into.
One thing to be prepared for is a few falls, as it can be a strange sensation to feel the board moving underneath you when trying to stand. Don’t worry about this, as almost everyone who starts SUP yoga for the first time ends up in the water! After a while though, you will get a feel for the board. Remember: the movement of the board whilst you practise yoga is what makes it so beneficial.
If you’ve never tried stand up paddle boarding before, It would be advisable to take a beginner SUP lesson to gain more experience with proper paddling technique and stance. Likewise, if you’ve never tried yoga before, it might be worth taking a class or two to get a feel for the asanas, before trying them on a paddle board.
Yoga roughly translates to “Union”, and SUP yoga certainly brings together your mind, body, and the outdoor environment in a complete, but relaxing, workout.