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Paddle Board Yoga Basics

a woman standing next to a body of water

Have you ever wondered why anyone in their right mind would do yoga on an unstable surface like a stand-up paddleboard? Holding yoga poses on firm surfaces may be difficult much more on shaky surfaces.

Holding yoga poses on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) is not as difficult as it may seem and it does provide opportunities not available on land-based surfaces. SUP yoga offers an exciting and invigorating alternative when you want to experience nature.

In this article we will look at:

  • The reasons behind SUP yoga: This includes having fun, exploring nature, and practicing mindfulness.
  • Preparing for SUP yoga: Yoga gears include board, leash, paddle, PFD, and an anchor.
  • SUP yoga tips and poses: It’s easy to hold some poses on a paddle. However, you’ll need a few tips to help make your first yoga practice a great experience.

Although a bit of experience in yoga or SUP can boost your confidence before you start your SUP yoga, you don’t need to be a pro to get going. If you’re a first-timer, you can learn how to at SUP yoga class.

The Reasons behind SUP Yoga

Initially, it may seem strange to pair yoga and stand up paddleboarding. However, there are several reasons why people get excited about doing yoga on the water. But aside from the fun, there are a few additional benefits:

Develop and sustain different workout: SUP yoga helps to engage and strengthen muscles that may be neglected during on-land yoga practice.

Develop mindfulness: Since SUP yoga is done on a shaky board it challenges you to focus primarily on all your movements.

Promote the beginner’s mindset: Regardless of how experienced you are as a yogi you can still learn something new from simple poses. The best way to approach your yoga practice is to have the mindset of a beginner who is curious and willing to learn. Approaching SUP yoga with a beginner’s mindset and maintaining that mindset will help you manage the new challenges brought on by your yoga routine. 

SUP Yoga Preparation

In preparing for your SUP yoga, you will need some basic gears for your day out on the water, and these include:

Stand up paddleboard: Although there are a few boards designed specifically for SUP yoga, any wide, stable, flat-shaped deck board can work. It’s best to have boards with soft, comfy deck lining that stretches out towards the board’s nose and tail. This allows for holding poses easily and comfortably. For additional information see choosing a SUP    

Paddle: The only required specifics for a suitable SUP paddle is one that is the right length for you. While engaged in your yoga exercise just set the paddle in a vertical position down to your board close to the nose. You can also use a coil leash and wrap it around your paddle a couple of times, and let it float in the water behind you. If you use a non-coil leash, just ensure you secure the hook-and-loop strap tightly to the shaft. This is to ensure your paddle is at hand when you need it. For more see SUP paddles.

Leash: This is usually not sold with a board. A leash hitches you and your SUP together so that your board is next to you should you fall off. You will need the leash when you’re paddling from the shore out into the water. When your board is anchored in position, remove the leash from your leg. However, you should keep the leash on if your board is not anchored to prevent your board from drifting away should you fall off.

Personal Flotation Device (PFD): A PFD is a requirement whenever you’re on the water. Wearing a PDF is good, but the Coast Guard states that adults must always have one on board. However, the rules applicable to children vary, so find out what the laws in your state says about using PDF. If you choose to wear a PDF, then select a low-profile and solid inflatable one that will not become an obstacle while you’re engage in your yoga routine      

Emergency whistle: This is another requirement from the Coast Guard. Most paddlers have their whistles fastened to their PDF so that they can access it easily if they need to call for help.

Optional gear:

Anchor: Although anchoring your board is not necessary, some SUP yogis cannot concentrate if the board is floating around while they’re doing yoga. However, it’s a good idea to anchor your board if you’re part of group when doing you’re routine because this can keep the group members together.

You can anchor your board by using a fishing anchor made for anchoring small boats and SUPs. How to anchor your board:

  • Fasten the anchor rope’s end to the leash attachment section on your board and then place both on your board.
  • Paddle out and drop the anchor overboard at a spot that is about 10 to 15 ft deep.
  • Once the anchor touches the bottom, reel out some more rope. If you have extra rope, fasten it to the leash attachment section. Excess rope can be placed on the tail of the board.     

Whether you’re an experienced SUP yogis or not the following tips can help you get a comfortable feel on your board.

Find a secluded spot: SUP yoga can be extremely difficult where there are big waves and plenty of wind. These can cause a lot of distraction and prevent you from focusing on your yoga routine. Paddle out to a secluded spot that is not open to the wind and where there is less traffic from high-speed boats.

Don’t stay with the crowds: SUP yoga will draw the attention on onlookers. If you don’t want to be noticed then distance yourself from the busy beach.

Move slowly: Unlike on-land yoga, SUP yoga requires slow movement. So ensure you do your poses a bit more slowly than you’re accustomed to.

Maintain a wide stance: There are some yoga styles that put an emphasis on narrow body alignment. For example, the mountain pose that requires you to keep your feet together or the warrior poses where your front foot is in line with your back foot. But SUP yoga requires that you use a wider stance, basically a hip-width spacing to ensure a stable base.

Maintain two points of contact: One point of contact poses such as the eagle or tree pose is considered to be too hard for SUP yoga. Poses that support two points of contact are best for SUP yoga. Likewise, poses that allow your body to be vertically aligned to the board offer a more stable feel than those that place you parallel.

Accept the unexpected: SUP yoga is not as controlled as on-land practice. A drifting board or quick wave can throw you off balance causing you to fall in. Learn to accept this and that it is similar to other situations in life that you can’t control.

Paddleboard Rental

Ready to get started but need the SUP? We rent paddleboards (and kayaks, and boats, and jet skis)! Book online today or give the office a call.

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