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Stand-up paddle boarding and yoga may seem to be an odd coupling of activities, but the truth is, these two core-strengthening killer workouts are a match made in heaven.
There are many reasons why SUP Yoga is quickly experiencing a boom in popularity. Whether you’re looking for a fun sport to enjoy with friends or seeking a way to combine solitude, mindfulness, and a great workout, stand-up paddle boarding offers a bevy of benefits.
Works neglected muscles: Doing yoga on a SUP engages muscles that you may neglect during an on-land exercise routine.
Develops mindfulness: The added challenge of doing yoga on a wobbly board will force you to be very present and intentional with your movements.
Gets you back to basics: After practicing yoga for a long time, one might become complacent, working on autopilot mode as you do child’s pose for the thousandth time. But, even the most avid yogis can learn something new by getting back to a beginner mindset, and approaching your yoga practice with the curiosity of a novice. SUP yoga is a great way to get re-engaged and introduce new challenges to your yoga routine.
If you’re new to SUP yoga, or even if you’ve been “on board” for some time, paddleboard yoga involves the same asana sequences and positions as traditional on-land practice, but with a bonus zen factor. After all, there’s nothing more relaxing and serene than the sounds and sights of being in open water.
To help you get started on your newest yoga infatuation, here are a few stand-up paddle board yoga tips to remember.
Find a sheltered spot: Lots of wind and giant waves are great for surfing, but not so much for paddleboarding. The same holds true for busy boat traffic areas. Flat waters and calm air eliminate distractions and allow you to focus. So, before beginning your routine, paddle to a spot that’s relatively sheltered from wind and wakes.
Be a bit of a loner: SUP Yoga tends to attract attention. To be fully present and mindful, put some distance between you and the nosey crowds.
Slow down: If you’re an experienced yogi, but new to SUP Yoga, take your tie and slow down as you move through your poses.
Widen your stance: Some styles of yoga focus on a narrow body alignment, such as having your front foot in line with your back foot in a warrior pose. With SUP yoga, it’s helpful to use a wider stance, roughly hip-width distance apart, for a more stable base.
Keep two points of contact with the board: Poses with only one point of contact, like tree pose or eagle pose, might be too difficult for SUP yoga beginners. Try poses that maintain at least two points of contact with the board.
Stay perpendicular: It’s also easier to maintain a steady balance by practicing poses that keep your body aligned perpendicularly with the board, rather than parallel to it.
Accept the unexpected: Practitioners of SUP yoga have less control than those practicing on land. Your board can drift or be rocked by a sudden wave which may set you off balance. You might even fall into the drink! That’s perfectly OK! Like in life, you should become comfortable with the unexpected and go with it.
Prepare Your Muscles– This is a core workout through and through. Refresh your ab and core strength prior to stand up paddle board yoga, and don’t forget meditation and breathing exercises.
Find Your Center– The center of the board, that is. That black handle is a great indicator for the center of the board and should be where you center yourself for most poses. For standing poses, like Warrior I and II, maintain a firm stance and keep your legs actively engaged to remain balanced.
Connect with Nature– While SUP Yoga is a great new way to connect with your mind, spirit, body, and presence, don’t forget to look around and connect with nature, animals, and the sky. If there are dolphins jumping (lucky you!), pay attention to the ease of their movements. If there are waves hitting rocks or the sand, synchronize your movements with the water’s rhythm.
Keep the peace: Chances are there will be party boaters yelling and screaming, fisherman throwing lines in your space, or jet skiers that rock you off your feet. Resist letting outside forces upset your zen and, as Buddha says, “find inner peace even in the presence of disruption.”
Check your Ego– Try not to let your frustrations get the best of you if you don’t immediately rock your poses. SUP Yoga is a totally different experience than yoga on land. So, check your ego and enjoy.
Whether you’re a newbie or have a few SUP days under your belt, SUP Yoga is different from land yoga. You’re learning a new sport, so be open to a new experience, stay mindful, and resist the urge to compare or compete.
Like beach volleyball differs from the traditional sport, SUP Yoga is its own thing, so check your ego at the water’s edge and enjoy the ride.