Stand up Paddleboard Yoga

Stand-Up Paddleboard Yoga for Beginners 

Yoga is a great physical practice for your mind and body. And so is stand-up paddleboarding. It was only a matter of time before some genius (and we aren’t quite sure who the first one was) put them together to invent Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga, but we sure are glad they did. So, if you are getting a little bored with gym yoga and want to get outside and challenge yourself, or you are looking for a way to spice up your yoga practice and even intensify it so that you get more out of it, you should definitely move your practice onto a paddleboard and see for yourself what the hype is all about. People have been doing yoga on stand-up paddleboards for years now, but the practice has been gaining in popularity in recent years, as more and more Stand up paddleboard yoga classes pop up. If you thought doing yoga on the water was only for the lucky few who live in the tropics, you are wrong! It’s very likely there’s a class near you. Read on to find out the benefits and the basics of SUP yoga.

The Many Benefits of Stand-Up Paddleboard Yoga  

Woman practicing SUP yoga, on a paddleboard in the Caribbean

“In one drop of water are found all the secrets of all the oceans; in one aspect of you are found all the aspects of existence.” ― Kahlil Gibran

The first benefit of doing yoga on a stand-up paddleboard (from here on out referred to as SUP yoga) is just being near and on the water. Floating or paddling on the water is a beautiful and soulful experience whether you are in a lake, ocean, river, or swimming pool. There is something naturally calming and beautiful about water, after all, the human body is made of 60 % water. What can be more mindful than bringing your practice to one of the most basic elements? Being on the water and in nature can add another dimension of soulfulness and spirituality to your practice that you just don’t get from the gym.

The water and board create a more unstable surface than your floor. When practicing yoga on a SUP, you have to engage your core more in order to achieve balance. For practitioners looking to get more of a workout out of their routine, taking to the water is a great way to more fully engage your core muscles. 

“Falling out of posture means you are human; getting back into posture means you are a yogi.“― Bikram Choudhury

Additionally, since there is less margin for error on the water when it comes to your balance and the various positions you use during your practice, you will learn more about your technique and be able to refine your posture. For example, if you lean too far to one side during a downward dog pose, the board will let you know, whereas on your mat at home you might not realize your technique is leaning or unbalanced. 

Finally, there is something fun about a challenge. When things get too easy, us humans start to get bored, but if we mix things up and challenge ourselves we have more fun. Think about it like this, for a lot of people it is more fun to play a cardio-intensive game like basketball or ultimate frisbee than it is to go on a run. Stand up paddleboard yoga is just more fun than traditional yoga because it is more engaging and physical. 

Where Can You Do SUP Yoga?

Woman practicing SUP yoga, on a paddleboard in the Caribbean

Believe it or not, you don’t have to live on a beach, or even by a major source of water. There are Stand Up Paddleboard yoga groups all over the country that get out on their boards in small lakes, community pools, and more. If you’re interested in doing SUP yoga, the best place to start is finding a SUP yoga group in your area. You can use this helpful resource to aid you in your search for a SUP yoga community near you. 

One aspect of SUP yoga that makes group practice so important and vital, is safety. The water can be dangerous. If you practice with a group you can be certain that there will be people around to help you if you get yourself in trouble. If you must practice alone, make sure you find still water, and tell your family and friends where you will be and how long you will be there. Accidents do happen during Stand Up Paddleboard yoga. Never wear an ankle leash while practicing SUP yoga. Tragedies, while rare, do happen. Before you strike out to try SUP yoga, you should take a class first, and you need to make sure that you have the proper gear. Those who practice SUP yoga often opt for wider, more stable boards rather than traditional stand-up paddleboards which are thinner. 

Easy Moves to Start Out With 

Woman practicing SUP yoga, on a paddleboard in the Caribbean

You may have mastered a wide array of moves on your mat in your home, but out on the water it is best to try simple move first to make sure that you can balance. The moves that are simpler on your mat at home will be more difficult on the water as your core muscles are more thoroughly engaged in the practice. Here are some moves you should try first:

  • Downward dog
  • Child’s pose
  • Chair pose
  • Forward fold 
  • Cobra or updog 
  • Warrior 1
  • Warrior 2 

If you are feeling up to it, you can also try warrior 3 as well, but it is harder to do on a stand-up paddleboard. Along with warrior 3 here are some of the more advanced and more difficult SUP yoga moves:

  • Bridge
  • Boat 
  • Headstand
  • Arm balances
  • The Wheel
Woman practicing SUP yoga, on a paddleboard in the Caribbean

After enough time on the board and in the water, you’ll realize that anything you can do at home on your mat, you can do on the water too. Stand Up paddleboard yoga is a great activity for yogis of all levels. The great thing about yoga is that you can move at your own pace and still find challenges and rewards. Here are some great paddle boards for people who are interested in trying their hand at SUP yoga!

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