Stand-Up Paddle Board (SUP) Yoga Basics
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Stand-up paddle board yoga (SUP yoga) is a marriage of two popular activities that provide new benefits when combined. Whether you’re into yoga or paddle boarding, this is an activity you should check out. If you’re into both, you’re probably already involved or you’re really missing out.
Let’s take a look at the basics of stand-up paddle board yoga. You might just want to try it out.
Benefits of SUP Yoga
Paddle boarding is a challenging full-body workout that provides benefits not found when practicing yoga on land.
What are the benefits of Sup yoga? SUP yoga…
- Gets you outside and on water. Water provides greater peace than land yoga often provides. After all, water is symbolic of life, purity, rebirth, renewal, transformation, purity, fertility, life, motion, renewal, and transformation.
- Connects you with nature and relieves stress through exercise.
- Uses meditative breathing techniques to relieve stress.
- Engages and strengthens muscles in ways that land yoga can not.
- Improves balance.
- Increases flexibility.
- Introduces change and new challenges for those experienced with yoga.
- Improves your technique.
- It’s fun!
Gear Needed for SUP Yoga
You should have the following essential gear for SUP yoga. The first four are required. The fifth can save you a lot of trouble.
For a full list, check out the Stand-Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) Gear Checklist.
1. Stand-Up Paddle Board
Though some people prefer stand-up paddle boards specifically designed for SUP yoga, I recommend a hybrid inflatable SUP that has a wide stable deck of 30 or more inches in width and a length of 10.5 – 12 feet.
Inflatable paddle boards are more comfortable and stable and hybrid SUPs allow you to sit, stand, surf, fish, tour, and perform yoga. Why limit yourself?
An inflatable SUP or iSUP can offer a better experience on the water and it’s easy to transport and store away after use. Why buy expensive car racks and take up storage space when you have a better option?
An iSUP is typically made of a 6″ thick drop-stitch material which provides increased buoyancy, rigidity, and stability all of which help you as you go through your yoga moves.
When you’re done, simply deflate, roll up, and store your paddle board in the back of your vehicle.
2. Paddle Board Paddle
Any SUP paddle will do just fine though you need to make sure it is sized right. Adjustable length paddles make sizing easy and also come in handy if you happen to share the board with your wife, friend, or kids.
If you buy an inflatable SUP package from Sea Eagle, it will come with an adjustable fiberglass shaft paddle or an adjustable super-strong carbon fiber shaft paddle.
3. Personal Flotation Device (PFD)
The law requires you to have a personal flotation device (PFD) while out on the water, one PFD per person.
Adults are required to have a PFD on board they aren’t required to wear it. Laws are different when it comes to children and PFD use. Please check the laws in your locality.
For safety, consider wearing a low-profile, compact inflatable PFD that won’t get in the way while going through your yoga routine. You never know when it could save your life.
4. Emergency Whistle
Emergency whistles are a requirement in many areas. It’s easy to keep them on hand with your PFD.
5. Paddle Board Leash
A paddle board leash will keep your board close if you fall off. If you don’t like wearing a leash, consider using an anchor to keep your board in place if you fall off.
Note: The U.S. Coast Guard requires you to have a PFD and a whistle.
SUP Yoga Classes
If you are reading this post on the basics, I’ll guess you aren’t an experienced SUP yogi. Like all things in life, there is a time to learn.
Having some experience with paddle boarding and/or yoga can be helpful before trying SUP yoga but is by no means necessary.
SUP yoga classes are a great place for learning. You get to practice regularly and meet others who are learning and growing as well.
How to Find a SUP Yoga Class
There are a number of ways to find a reputable SUP yoga class near you.
- If you have friends into paddle boarding or SUP yoga, start there first.
- Ask local outfitters that sell paddling gear.
- Ask at SUP rental locations.
- Check colleges for continuing ed classes, not their credited classes. This is how I got started kayaking back in the ’90s. I learned in the winter in an Olympic size pool
- Gyms with indoor pools may have SUP yoga classes.
- Search Facebook for paddle boarding and SUP yoga groups near you. These groups are great for finding local classes.
- Meetup.com has paddle boarding and SUP yoga groups that offer classes and other learning opportunities.
- Keep your eyes open. If you see what looks like a class on the water, don’t be shy. Ask to see if they are having a class or know of one. Yogis are friendly.
SUP Yoga Tips
With a few pointers and some practice, you will be able to deepen your focus, improve your balance and strength, and find greater relaxation while experiencing some of your favorite outdoor areas in a new way.
I hope you find these tips helpful in providing a fun safe experience.
SUP Yoga Weather and Water Tips
Check the weather: Always check the weather and wind direction before heading out on the water.
Find a calm spot: Calm lakes and bays are best for practicing SUP yoga. Wind, waves, and wake from boats can make yoga practice difficult too.
Seclusion: Finding a secluded spot away from a lot of activity will help you maintain focus.
Know the water’s depth: You don’t want to fall off your board in shallow water where you might get hurt and you don’t want to be in water that is too deep if you plan on using an anchor.
Avoid debris: Avoid practicing SUP yoga in areas with debris in the water. Fallen limbs and debris can be hazardous when you fall.
For more safety tips, check out Boating Safety Basics For Paddle Boaters.
SUP Yoga Gear Tips
Use an anchor: Anchoring will prevent you from drifting out of your desired spot and into other paddlers, the shore, or too far away from shore.
Secure your paddle: Your paddle can be secured by wrapping your paddle board leash around your paddle. Once your paddle is secure it can be left to drift beside you in the water.
Stow your gear: SUPS with bungee cords for storage are best. They give you a secure way to stow your water shoes, water, PFD, and other items. If you don’t have bungee cords on your board, there are suction cup models that will stick to your board very well.
SUP Yoga Routine Tips
Center your weight: Balance is best achieved by keeping your weight centered over the paddle board’s carry handle.
Focus eyes and breathing: Balance is improved when you keep your eyes on the horizon and focus on your breathing.
Slow movements: Making slow movements through your yoga routine helps maintain balance.
Low poses: A lower center of gravity will help you stay balanced. Practice lower poses until your balance improves.
Use a wide stance: Modify your stance to maintain wide placements of your feet and hands. It’s harder to maintain balance with narrow body alignments. You can bring your stance in as you become more confident on your board.
Offset your feet: When performing lunge-style yoga poses, place your feet on either side of the board’s centerline for improved balance.
Maintain two points of contact: Choose poses that allow you to maintain at least two points of contact with the board. Poses with one point of contact are often too difficult for SUP yoga.
Relinquish control: Accept that falling in is inevitable. Waves or something will knock you off balance and you’ll go for a swim. As I see it, getting wet is part of the fun.
Sample SUP Yoga Poses
The following are familiar yoga poses you can try. They are relatively easy poses for building your SUP yoga routine.