Imagine yourself in easy pose, the warmth of the sun on your face and the soothing lap of water against your board. The breeze brings the smell of salt or damp earth, and you spy the glossy arc of a dolphin or the energetic leap of a fish. Take a deep breath .... this is the life. This is you, and your yoga practice, on a stand up paddleboard.
Why Practice Yoga on a SUP?
Two good reasons: the whole practice becomes a serious ab workout, and the multiple benefits from practicing outside.
Though made to be quite stable, SUPs that are crafted for yoga still are floating on water, and are thus constantly in motion. To keep balance in almost any pose, the core will be engaged, strengthening and toning the entire midsection. In addition, yogis who practice on the water find that their focus is more intense, which works to deepen the experience.
Performing asanas in nature bring the added benefit of Vitamin D, fresh air, and on the water a calm that can't be duplicated in a studio. Practicing in nature is also inspiring, and can bring a sense of connection that helps reduce stress and create calm in the mind. And, doing yoga on a paddleboard is just plain fun. The element of falling brings a playfulness and self-acceptance that can be lost in a studio (especially one with mirrors.)
What Equipment Do I Need?
SUP manufacturers now make boards specifically for yoga, with mat-like deck surfaces and designs that enhance stability. But most boards other than those made for touring or racing will do. A standard SUP paddle gets you to and from your "classroom," and optional leashes keep you and your board connected when you fall off. And that's all you need--simple! We've got two styles of boards for sale, made specifically for yoga.
5 Poses to Get You Started
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down Dog): one of the most stable poses to try on a board
Vasisthasana (Side Plank): views of sea and sky make for inspiration to lift chest and gaze, movement of the board engages muscles you didn't remember you had!
Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II): the gentle motion of your board will engage muscles of legs and core in an invigorated way
Vrksasana (Tree pose): this one-legged balance becomes a physical and mental challenge to sustain on water--connect to a tree on the shoreline to help with balance and cultivating "tree-ness"
Savasana (Corpse pose): lap up the relaxation created by gentle motion, the blissful sound of water, and the toasty sun on your skin
Reinvent Your Practice
Enthusiasts agree that the merging of the ancient art of yoga and the sport of stand up paddleboarding (no recent phenomenon: think ancient Polynesia) are a perfect melding of disciplines. The increased focus, intense concentration, and potential for greater self-acceptance (because you will fall off--and that's ok!) enhance your yoga practice; flexibility and strength benefit your sports performance.
Investing in a stand up paddleboard not only exponentially expands your classroom but gives you a new exercise alternative as well. And if you've already got a board--what are you waiting for? Try a few poses pre or post paddle.
Spring vacation is literally upon us, and the bright days of summer just around the corner. Take the leap to reinvent and reinvigorate your yoga practice--take it on the water!