Stand up paddle boarding yoga is a great way to take your yoga to a new level and is definitely one of the biggest benefits of getting into it. Paddle boarding is increasing in popularity and SUP yoga classes are starting pretty much everywhere where there is water. You don’t have to be at the peak of fitness to use a paddle board either – but you’ll find you get fitter the more you use one.
Carrying out a yoga routine in the middle of a lake or on a quiet piece of ocean will be extremely relaxing, and you won’t get any of the noises or interruptions of every day life. Before you start, though, you need to make sure you’re properly prepared.
What you will need
A paddle board
The most obvious thing you’ll need for stand up paddle boarding yoga, is a paddle board. You don’t have to spend a lot on one to get you started and some places will hire them out.
If you want to do SUP yoga, you will need a board which allows you plenty of room to move and stretch. The wider your board, the more stable it will be, so get one which is at least 30 inches wide. The length needs to give you plenty of room to stretch, and should be somewhere between 10.5 and 12 feet.
Some boards are designed for yoga, and come with a deck pad already fitted. If not, buy one before you set out. This pad should cover most of the length of your board and it has a non-slip surface. As the board gets wet, you’ll simply keep sliding off if you try to carry out yoga without it.
When you look at purchasing a paddle board you have two options: epoxy or inflatable.
Epoxy yoga SUP
This type of board is a solid board. It requires a roof rack or trailer to carry it, and needs a good sized space to store it. It is also the more expensive option of SUP.
Inflatable yoga SUP
These are the cheaper option and are more popular with beginners. These can be carried in rucksacks or the trunk of a car and allow more freedom of where you can use it. They work just as well as an epoxy SUP and which option of SUP you choose is simply a matter of choice. If you have an inflatable SUP, you will need a pump to inflate it.
If you are hiring a SUP you can test each type to see which you prefer.
Paddle and holders
You will also need a paddle to steer your SUP in to the water. The right size of paddle depends on your own height, but a local sports store should help you choose the right one.
If you use your board for yoga, it’s a good idea to make sure you have paddle hooks. These attach to the side of the board and hold your paddle while it is not in use. Without these you will have to place the paddle on your board while you complete your workout, and you may find when you finish that your paddle has slipped over board and disappeared.
Clothing for yoga needs to allow you room to move and stretch, so a wet suit just won’t do. You must choose something that you can swim in if you fall off the board, so a bikini, speedos or board shorts are ideal. Spandex sports gear is also an option, but baggy pants should be avoided.
Your normal shoes won’t be any good on a paddle board, so take deck shoes or flip flops with you, as these can cope with wet conditions.
A waterproof bag
Yoga doesn’t require a lot of equipment, but you will need somewhere to keep your phone, keys and shoes safe and dry, and you’ll need a place to keep your drink. Waterproof bags come in different shapes and sizes and are invaluable when on a SUP.
Choose your spot
A successful outing, depends on many factors, the most important of which is the weather. If you try to carry out your yoga in windy conditions, you won’t get very far. Check the weather to make sure that where you are going, the weather will be calm.
The best weather for SUP yoga is still or sunny.
You need to choose where and when you do your yoga carefully too. If you go to a busy lake, the water will be moving a lot and you are unlikely to keep your balance properly. Similarly SUP yoga on the surf won’t be very successful. Remember that some stretches of water have currents and these need to be taken in to consideration too. The last thing you want is to find yourself fully relaxed after your workout, but several miles away from where you started.
The best spots are places where it is quiet and the water is calm. Lakes are often ideal spots for yoga. If you can, choose a quiet part of the day so you can fully relax.
Find your balance
Stand up paddle boarding yoga is a little different to yoga on dry land. On land, the floor is flat and doesn’t move around so it’s far easier to focus and balance. On a SUP you have to keep the board balanced or you’ll fall in the water. If you try to complete your normal yoga routine, you may find yourself in trouble.
Before you start, get your balance right. You should stand over the center of the board and keep your weight distributed evenly at all times. If you shift your weight, you’ll lose your balance. You may find yourself in the water more times than you want to be when you first start, but the more you practice, the easier it will be to stay balanced.
The best way to start is to try out a few simple poses first and don’t try to add moves too quickly. You will find you will adjust your poses slightly as you adjust your balance to compensate for the movement in the water but you’ll soon find the best position. From there you can start adding other positions, but be aware that there will be some poses which are not suitable for a paddle board.
When carrying out yoga, the best place to center is the handle of the board, so try to keep your center of gravity as close to that as you can. It can help to choose poses which have a low center of gravity too, such as downward dog or upward cat.
One method of keeping your balance on a SUP is to keep your eyes on the horizon. This takes the focus off your feet and looking up will also help you with your breathing. At first you may feel a little conspicuous doing stand up paddle board yoga, but there may be others around you and as you get in to it you’ll experience the true relaxation which comes with being out on the water.
Many places offer SUP yoga classes. These are a good place to get you started as they will not only teach you the basics of balancing, but will also show you some poses which are suitable for stand up paddle boarding yoga.
Some tips to help you:
- Stay low – this can help you to center on the board.
- Keep your body over the center of the handle with your legs evenly spaced either side. You will move for your positions, but try to keep your body over the center as much as you can.
- Don’t be put off if you can’t swim. You can try SUP yoga on shallow water too.
- If you’re new to paddle boarding, learn to paddle and balance before you try yoga.
- Don’t start off with your usual yoga sequence. It will need to be adapted for a SUP.
All it takes to enjoy SUP yoga is a few minor adjustments to your regular yoga positions. Once you have mastered these, you will really enjoy the freedom of relaxing on the water.
Take a look at these tips from Ferny Barcelo for doing yoga on your stand up paddle board.. really good video!