Ready to swap your yoga mat for a paddleboard and take your practice to a whole new level?
Welcome to the watery world of SUP yoga!
SUP yoga is a unique combination of paddleboarding and yoga that takes you out of your comfort zone by exposing you to the elements and pushing the limits of your balance.
In this article, we’ll explore:
- What is SUP yoga?
- 4 benefits of SUP yoga
- What to wear for SUP yoga
- 7 Poses for SUP yoga
- 6 best paddle boards for SUP yoga
What is SUP yoga?
Put simply, SUP yoga combines stand-up paddleboarding, a sport made popular in 1940s Hawaii, with the ancient Indian practice of yoga.
Although SUP yoga is a relatively new concept, more and more people are choosing to swap their yoga mat for a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) and take their practice to a calm body of water such as a lake, bay, river or even the sea.
And believe it or not, it isn’t necessary to have a lot of experience with either yoga or paddleboarding in order to enjoy this unique workout!
SUP yoga is fun, inspiring and suitable for all levels and abilities. However, if you are a beginner, we’d recommend booking a SUP yoga class led by an instructor before trying anything yourself.
4 benefits of SUP yoga
If you’re looking to try SUP yoga, it’s likely that you already know that yoga is extremely beneficial to our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.But why should you go to all the trouble of getting your flow on in the water?
What makes SUP yoga so special?
1. Work out your entire body
Yoga poses improve flexibility and increase mobility, whilst paddleboarding helps strengthen muscle groups and pushes your balance to a whole new level.
By being exposed to the elements and constantly having to adjust to the movement of the board on water, you’ll maximize your core stability throughout your practice.
2. A new challenge
Not only is SUP yoga a great way to exercise, but it’s also fun! Whether you choose to practice alone or as part of a class, your inner child will fall in love with the thrill of being on the water.
Mixing up your practice will help you avoid tedium and keep you engaged and inspired. In turn, this will make you more likely to commit to a regular yoga routine.
3. Spend more time in nature
Thanks to the rise of modern technology, city living and fast paced lifestyles, humans have become more separate from Mother Nature than ever.
By making a conscious effort to carve out some ‘you time’ in nature, you’ll regain an appreciation for the environment around you and beyond.
4. Promotes mindfulness
SUP yoga combines the stress reduction of a regular yoga practice with the calming sensation of being on the water and feeling the gentle ripples beneath you.
This creates the perfect environment for bringing together your mind and body through the use of the breath.
What to wear for SUP yoga
Despite what you might think, there’s no need for specialist gear in SUP yoga.
Whether you’re practicing by yourself or attending a SUP yoga class, it’s likely that this will take place during the warmer months, meaning that you don’t need a wetsuit – just something that can dry off easily.
What to wear:
Lower Body Wear
- It’s important to find something that allows for flexibility and is quick drying. Normal yoga pants, sport shorts, surf wear or even swimwear bottoms are ideal for your SUP yoga practice.
Upper Body Wear
- Pick a light, fast drying t-shirt that you would wear in a normal yoga class or on a run. Anything moisture-wicking is a bonus. Remember not to go for anything too loose-fitting as you don’t want to end up with it over your head in downward dog!
- In cold weather, bring a sweater that you can easily remove if you get too hot. This will also come in handy during Savasana.
- No need for flip flops! Going barefoot allows you to grip the board and make quick balance adjustments through your toes, so we’d always recommend bare feet when practicing SUP yoga.
- However, in freezing conditions you may want to wear wetsuit boots to prevent lack of blood circulation.
- If you are practicing in cold or freezing winter conditions, then it is essential to wear a wetsuit. Consider also wearing boots with grip, gloves and a waterproof hood for an extra layer of protection against the cold.
- This is a must! When out on the paddleboard, you’re surrounded by water and sunlight reflections, increasing your exposure to harmful UV rays. Make sure you protect your face and body.
A dry bag
- We wouldn’t recommend taking any items with you on your board as you risk water damage, losing it in the water or simply worrying about it all throughout your practice. However, if you do need to take things with you in the water, then a dry bag is essential.
A water bottle
- As serene as it might look, SUP yoga is still thirsty work. Stay hydrated!
A microfibre towel
- This will keep you warm during Savasana at the end of your practice – or come in handy if you do take an unexpected plunge…
7 poses for SUP yoga
If you’re practicing by yourself, you might want to get familiar with these poses before you get on the water!
1) Downwards dog
This is a great pose to start with. Create length with your spine and find balance on your board. Spread your fingers wide and peddle with your feet for a deeper stretch.
2) Chair pose
This pose focuses on building strength in your legs and core. Stand with your feet a hips-width apart. The closer your feet are together, the harder the pose becomes.
3) Warrior 2
This pose is one of the more challenging poses to do on your SUP. Remember to keep strong, steady and calm and to keep your feet in a line down the center of your board.
4) Thread the Needle
Paddleboarding can be pretty tough on your shoulders, so this pose is great to do as a warm up or cool down after your session as it focuses on stretching the shoulders and the vertebrates of your spine.
5) Modified Crescent Lunge
A great pose for opening your hips and quadriceps. Place your feet on either side of the center line going down your board and pull your navel towards your spine, engaging your core.
6) Full Wheel
This pose lengthens your spine, opens your chest, stretches out your stomach, and quite literally flips your perspective upside down.
And now, the one you’ve all been waiting for! This pose requires some serious core strength and strong shoulders. Make sure to engage your upper body, core, and glutes.
We recommend having some prior experience with headstands before attempting this intermediate pose. This being said, unlike doing a headstand on normal ground, you don’t need to worry too much about hurting yourself if you fall!
5 Best Paddleboards for SUP yoga
Finding the best paddleboard for your SUP yoga adventures can be a bit of a minefield.
But don’t worry, we’ve done the hard work for you!
The Venice is an extremely stable board made specifically with yogis in mind. This inflatable SUP offers a soft, smooth traction pad that mimics the sensation of a yoga mat as you float across the water.
This aesthetically pleasing paddleboard is a multifunctional inflatable board weighing less than 18 pounds. This ultra-light board is a great option for those looking for high quality whilst on a budget.
When fully inflated, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for a hardboard. However, this is actually the lightest, shortest and most affordable board produced by GILI Sports. This board is easy to carry and ideal for yogis on the small or young side.
Awesafe paddleboards are extra wide, available in a multitude of eye-catching colours and weigh only 17 pounds — 22% lighter than most of the competition!
An affordable, entry level SUP that is lightweight and versatile. The extra width and no-slip grip makes this an incredible SUP yoga experience.
If you’re about to head to the beach with your paddleboard, let our parting words of wisdom be this:
Don’t paddle out too far, have fun, stay calm, and for the love of god don’t bring your phone on board with you!
If you want to prepare for your upcoming SUP yoga session, check out The 7 Best Standing Yoga Poses To Improve Your Balance: