For many, seeing pictures of people practicing yoga on the water seems like a difficult feat. The reality is, paddle board yoga is actually not as hard as it seems.
It’s all about maintaining your balance on a paddle board and understanding how to slowly transition from pose to pose.
Today, I’ll share with you some tips that will make your transition from land yoga to SUP yoga easy and fun. Read on to see what’s waiting for you out in the water!
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Yoga Experience Is a Plus, Not a Must
You don’t have to be an experienced yogi to try out paddle board yoga. In fact, it’s not even a requirement. While it does help to have some yoga experience under your belt, you can enjoy SUP yoga without ever having stepped foot in a yoga class on land. In fact, if you’re a water lover, SUP yoga is just another way to expand your activities on the water.
Still, it does help to have some idea of what you’re getting yourself into with SUP yoga. Here are some tips to keep in mind if you are trying out your yoga routine on the water for the first time.
Practice Paddle Boarding
It helps to have some paddle boarding experience before you jump into paddle board yoga. The main factor for finding success in SUP yoga is understanding how to maintain your balance. Balance is something that will just come with practice. The more you practice paddle boarding, the more you’ll be able to learn how to balance your board.
If you’re new to paddle boarding, consider joining a paddle boarding class first. In a class, you will learn basic techniques and how to balance on the water.
Easy SUP Yoga Poses to Start With
As with any new workout that you try, never dive into the deep end first. With SUP yoga, always start with easy poses. Even if you are an experienced yogi, practicing yoga on the water is a different type of experience.
Don’t go full force with your regular yoga routine, and don’t try new yoga poses if you’ve never done any on the water before.
Instead, start out with easy poses so that you get a feel for the paddle board under you. Some great yoga beginner poses to try on your stand up paddle board include the following:
- Easy seated pose: This is a great yoga pose to help maintain balance. Sit criss cross in the center of your board with your feet resting over your thigh instead of under. Sit up tall and bring your hands forward as you breathe in and out.
- Downward facing dog: Start in a tabletop pose and slowly bring your hips up while straightening and stretching out your legs.
- Plank: Shift into a plank position, keeping your stance wide so that you have greater stability.
- Low Lunges: In a low lunge pose, bring your hands above your head and stretch out nice and tall.
- Bridge Pose: Focus on your pelvic floor by laying on your back and slowly lifting your pelvis up towards the sky.
As I’ve shared, your balance is so important when it comes to paddle board yoga. Balance will make or break your stand up paddle board yoga experience. It’s important to understand how to balance on your board and what it takes to remain in control. The only way you can do this is by practicing.
If you feel that your board is not doing a great job of letting you balance when you shift on top of it, you may want to try out a different board. Typically, inflatable boards that are wide and have a consistent thickness to them are best for SUP yoga. If you are new to the water entirely, these boards are a better option for beginner paddlers too.
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Do I Need to Buy a Yoga Paddle Board for SUP yoga?
Speaking of the type of board to use, you’re probably wondering whether you have to buy a specialized yoga paddle board. While an experienced paddle board yogi might tell you that you should, the reality is, you can still have an incredible experience on the water without going all out on a specialized SUP board.
You do want to understand what paddle board features will lend well to SUP yoga however. Typically, these are the features that you want to look out for in a great yoga paddle board:
- Opt for a wide board that measures roughly 34 to 36 in wide. This will give you a wide surface area so that you have enough space to stretch out and do all your poses.
- While we’re on the topic of size, look for a board that is roughly 10 to 11 ft long.
- Opt for a board that has a consistent thickness to it. Boards that have a thickness that tapers at the edges won’t help with stability. These types of board were designed to be versatile and give you ample maneuverability. With SUP yoga, you want a board that is nice and stable and doesn’t rock around too much.
- You can certainly use an epoxy hard shell board for SUP yoga. But an inflatable paddle board tends to be a better option. These types of boards offer a little more cushion, are a bit more stable, and may offer more comfort.
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What Other Gear Should I Bring to SUP Yoga?
Bringing the right gear with you can help elevate your SUP yoga practice experience. First and foremost, keep in mind that you’re doing a full body workout, so wearing appropriate yoga clothes that are also suited to SUP is crucial. You want clothing that is easy to move in, so opting for a pair of shorts or leggings and a rash guard could work. .
As with any workout, it’s important to bring a water bottle with you so that you stay hydrated. If you’re going to be exercising under the hot sun, then a waterproof sunscreen is a must as well.
Although SUP yoga is a stationary activity, you still need to bring along your personal flotation device. You don’t have to wear your PFD when you’re doing your workout, but it’s important to have on when you’re going to and coming back from your destination.
Other safety gear to bring with you include a whistle and a waterproof flashlight. Of course you also want to bring along comfortable clothes that are appropriate for the water but make you feel comfortable during your SUP yoga session.
If you plan on doing yoga poses that require resistance bands, then you may want to bring these with you as well. As a beginner, you might want to leave these at home for now.
With all this gear that you’re going to tote around (except your SUP yoga clothes), you need some place to store it all. A great option is a waterproof dry bag. If your paddle board has bungee cords on the front or back deck, this can be a great place to store your dry bag.
SUP Yoga Classes vs. Going Solo
For your first paddle board yoga experience, I recommend joining an SUP yoga class. If you live near the beach or around a body of water, there’s a high chance that you can find an SUP yoga beginners course. A class like this can be helpful because you’ll be with other paddle boarders who are trying out the sport for the first time.
The biggest benefit of joining a class perhaps is that you’ll have an instructor that you can rely on. Your yoga instructor will teach you essential techniques that can help improve your balance, stability, and overall workout.
My favorite part about joining a yoga class is that participants can develop a sample SUP yoga routine based off of the techniques and poses covered in class. Once you have this routine down, you can then develop your own personalized routine for when you go out solo.
You don’t have to love yoga to be someone who likes to practice yoga on a paddle board. Better yet, if you’ve never done paddle board yoga before, you’ll probably be surprised at how easy it can be.
If you’re someone who loves practicing yoga but has never ventured out on the water I hope this guide has convinced you to give SUP yoga a try. It does not have to be difficult, but you can make it as challemnging as you want it to be – so even experienced yogis will appreciate the new challenge SUP yoga can bring. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below about your first paddle board yoga experience.