Who would have thought that mashing surfing and yoga together would take off the way that it has? The history of stand-up paddle boarding points to the state of California in the early 2000s as the origin of this phenomenon. It has since developed into a legitimate new form of yoga practice that is enjoyed all over the world.
What Is Paddle Board Yoga?
Question: So, what does SUP mean?
Answer: Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga.
As wild as it may seem, paddle board yoga is exactly what it sounds like. Moving traditional yoga from a mat on solid ground to a board floating on water is a trendy way to level up your yoga practice.
It demands a greater focus, balance, and awareness of your surroundings. Paddle board yoga elevates the yoga experience and adds an element of engaging with nature in a unique way.
Not to mention there’s also the possibility of falling into the water. That just adds a bit of joy and excitement to your otherwise calm and focused yoga session.
Wait, Is Practicing Yoga On a Floating Board Even Possible?
If it sounds impossible, you’re not the first one to think so. Yoga is tricky enough on solid ground. However, experts swear that as long as you can balance on one foot, you’ll be able to balance on a paddle board.
Why Try Paddle Board Yoga?
A New Challenge
Exercise routines can start to feel monotonous and stale after a while. Progress will inevitably plateau. Sometimes you just need to mix up the routine to get a fresh challenge and a new motivation that comes with it.
Practicing yoga is a form of self-care and a way to better yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually. By mixing paddle board yoga sessions into your routine, you have a new set of challenges that will stimulate growth and perseverance as you practice mindfulness.
You can practice traditional yoga in a forest or on the beach, but there’s something different about doing it on top of the water. It’s a fantastic way to get some fresh air, clear your mind, and appreciate the relationship between man and nature.
Enjoy Your Exercise
If we’re being honest, sometimes going to the gym is a drag. We know exercise is good for our health, but sometimes it’s difficult to muster up the motivation. This is especially true if you find yourself in the same old routine.
Paddle board yoga is fun. It’s something you can add to your schedule and look forward to doing. It’s equally enjoyable if you do it by yourself or with others.
Gear Needed For SUP Yoga
Obviously, you’ll need a paddle board. Unfortunately, your FunBoy inflatable pool lounger isn’t meant for standing, although it’s excellent for relaxing or a laid-back meditation session. Paddle boards are usually 10-11 feet long and between 32-34 inches wide.
Choosing a paddle board with a cushiony top surface is ideal for yoga. A hardtop board will be like doing yoga without a mat, you can do it, but it might end up hurting your knees and elbows.
You won’t actively be using the paddle while in your yoga poses, although you may be able to come up with some poses that include the paddle if you like. You will need it for getting out in the water, though.
Once you’ve made it to a spot you want to begin your session, you’ll simply balance it across the nose of your board or float it behind you on a tether.
The rule of thumb for selecting a paddle that is the right size for you is to take your height and add 10 inches.
A leash attaches to the end of your board with a chord and around your ankle with a velcro strap. Much like with surfing, the purpose of a leash is to make sure that your board doesn’t get away from you in the event that you fall off.
If you drop an anchor, you don’t need to keep your leash on because the board isn’t going anywhere.
Personal Floatation Device (PFD)
A personal floatation device helps assure your safety as you navigate the water. In some cases, a personal floatation device is required by law in order to operate a SUP.
You can use a traditional life jacket, but there’s also the option of wearing a PFD that’s been designed specifically for paddle boarding. You wear it around your waist, like a fanny pack, and pull a tab to activate the floatation device as needed.
A safety whistle is another item that you wouldn’t take to your normal yoga class, but you would bring on a paddle boarding session. Like the PFD, there are some cases where it’s required by law.
You don’t have to use an anchor, but it’ll keep you from drifting around as you go through your yoga routine. It’s ideal if you’re going out with others so that you can stay close together.
A simple fishing anchor that’s meant for small boats or kayaks can be attached to the same point you attach your leash. (Pirate anchors not needed.)
SUP Yoga Poses For Beginners
Most poses in traditional yoga translate well to SUP yoga. The main ones that don’t transfer over well are poses that require you to stand on one leg. Go ahead and try them if you want a challenge, but make sure you have a beach towel handy because you’re probably going in!
Start by simply sitting criss-cross applesauce in the middle of the board. Draw your attention to the feeling of the water underneath you. Use breathing techniques and center yourself as you find your balance.
Assume a table position on your hands and knees. Tighten your core and feel an equal balance between the four points of contact.
From a tabletop position, spread your knees and sink back so that your chest lowers to your thighs. Reach your hands in front of you to the front of the board and place your forehead gently on the board. Alternatively, spread your hands to the side, allowing them to drape over the edge of the board and feel the water.
From your table pose, curve your spine downward (cat) and upward (cow). Point your chin downward and upward, respectively. Feel your spine lengthen and the energy in your core.
Place your feet shoulder-width apart in the center of the board facing the nose, bend your knees and lower your bottom until your thighs are parallel with the board. Keep your back straight and extend your arms overhead.
From the table position, extend your feet behind you and lower yourself down onto your elbows. Tighten your core and glutes while lifting your gaze up over the nose of the board and along the surface of the water.
Wide Leg Forward Fold
Facing the side of the board, widen your stance out past shoulder length. Fold from your hips and hang down until your forearms are flat on the board.
Turn toes slightly inward. If you’re flexible enough, you can rest your head on the board as another point of contact.
From a plank position, drop your hips down to the board. Place your hands flat on the surface, shoulder-width apart, and press into the surface of the board while arching your back and shifting your gaze to the sky and clouds overhead.
Tips For Beginners
- Try yoga and SUP separately first:You can certainly go out and try SUP yoga with no experience in either aspect of the practice. But, you’ll probably find a bit more success and get more out of it if you have at least a little experience first.
- Choose a day without tons of wind.As you can imagine, the wind will add to the challenge dramatically. As will waves.
- Go slow: allow yourself time to relearn all your yoga poses. Move too quickly, and you may end up in the water!
- Find a secluded space:If you go to a popular beach spot, you’ll probably get a lot of curious people watching you. That’s not a bad thing, but it might hinder your focus. Go early in the morning, or maybe even try it in a private pool.
A Wonderful Experience On the Water
Go ahead and give paddle board yoga a try! Maybe you’ll really take to it and become a paddle board yogi. But if anything, it’s a unique way to spend time on the water. If it turns out paddle board yoga isn’t your thing, maybe an inflatable red lip couch is your way to float.