Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) Yoga Basics

If you’re wondering why someone would choose to do yoga on a wobbly surface like a stand-up paddle board, it’s a valid question. After all, holding poses on solid ground is challenging enough – so why add the extra element of instability?

Well, for one thing, yoga on a paddle board can be an amazing workout. Not only are you working against the resistance of the water, but you also have to engage your core muscles to maintain balance. And because you’re constantly adjusting your position, your muscles are never given a chance to get bored or complacent.

In addition, practicing yoga on a paddle board can help you focus and connect with your breath in a way that’s difficult to do on land. The fresh air and calming water can help clear your mind and allow you to focus on the present moment.

Although some experience in either SUP or yoga is helpful, you don’t need to be an expert before trying SUP yoga. The best way to try it for the first time is to participate in a SUP yoga class so you can get a feel for it.

Why Do SUP Yoga?

While stand up touring paddle boarding and yoga may seem like an unlikely combination at first, there are actually many benefits to doing yoga on the water! In addition to being a great way to have fun with friends or enjoy some quiet time on your own, doing yoga on a paddle board can also help improve your balance, flexibility, and core strength.

To get a different kind of workout: Doing yoga on a SUP engages muscles that you may overlook when practicing on land.

To cultivate mindfulness: Do yoga on a wobbly board, which forces you to be very present and intentional with all of your movements.

To provoke a novice’s mindset: If you’ve been practicing yoga for a while, you might find yourself going through the motions without really being present. The next time you do a familiar pose, take a moment to focus on your breath and be aware of your body. Even the most experienced yogis can learn something new by trying different yoga poses. Approaching your yoga practice with the engaged and curious mind of a beginner is a good way to improve your practice.

Gear for SUP Yoga

For a typical day of paddling, you’ll need to pack the essentials, including:

Stand up paddle board: While there are a few boards designed specifically for SUP yoga, you can use any wide and stable board with a flat surface. It’s helpful if the board has soft, cushy deck padding that extends to the nose and tail of the board.

Paddle: Any SUP paddle will suffice, just be sure to select one that is the correct size for you. While you’re in the midst of your yoga session, you can place the paddle down on the board next to your yoga mat, with the nose of the board pointing towards the paddle. If you have a coil leash, you can wrap the leash around your paddle a few times and let it float behind you in the water. 

Make sure your SUP paddle doesn’t float away by attaching a leash to it. Most leashes are secured to the paddle with a hook-and-loop strap, so all you need to do is wrap it around the shaft of the paddle and secure it tightly. This will give you peace of mind when you’re out on the water, knowing that your paddle is always close by.

Leash: A leash is a SUP accessory that is used to keep the board close to the paddler in case of a fall. It is typically sold separately from the board. For SUP yoga, use the leash to paddle out from shore and then take it off your leg once you’ve anchored your board in place. If you’re surfing without anchoring your board, make sure to keep your leash on at all times. That way, if you fall off, your board won’t get away from you.

Personal flotation device (PFD): All boaters are required to have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD) on board for each person. PFDs must be worn by children 12 and under, but adult boaters are only required to have them on board. Different states have different laws, so check your state’s regulations about PFD use before heading out on the water.

Emergency whistle: The Coast Guard requires that many paddlers keep their whistle attached to their PFD in case they find themselves in a situation where they need to signal for help.Also, it is advised to buy a lightweight paddle board for yoga. 

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