Stand up paddle boarding is quickly growing in popularity due to its many physical and mental benefits and the wide ability range that makes it inclusive for people to try. Once you have been able to move from kneeling to standing up and paddling, there is even more, you can try from there!
The new sport paddle boarders are talking about is SUP yoga, that is, doing yoga from your paddle board while out on the water. For yoga fanatics, this is an incredible way to improve your balance and strength even further due to the unsteady surface of the board on the water. You must make minor adjustments to your usual body movements and weight distributions to stay balanced on the board, which requires an extra element of focus and breathing work.
Immersion in nature also elevates your yoga practice to the next level. It is well-known that spending time outdoors has excellent benefits for our mental health, and with yoga, improving our mental wellbeing and focus is one of the main objectives. Taking this to a body of water helps to relax you further, and allows you to channel your focus into the yoga itself.
So how do you learn?
Depending on your area, you may be lucky enough to find a lesson nearby, so a simple internet search may be all you need to do to find out. I would also recommend asking at your local water sport or paddle boarding shop and see what activities they tend to have on offer. Lessons are ideal for SUP yoga since a paddle board isn’t really somewhere that you can stick on a YouTube tutorial. With yoga, it very often helps to have a teacher present to remind you of your breathing routines and give you pointers on improving.
However, SUP yoga lessons are not particularly common in many coastal areas, so sometimes it may be necessary to learn yourselves. I have put together a list of steps to enable you to give it a go.
Rent a paddle board.
If you do not already own a paddle board, I recommend renting one to get a feel for the type of board you prefer. And also allows you to try out the sport without a substantial financial investment. Besides, it is always a savvy move to try before you buy!
Get used to the board first.
Before trying a headstand on your paddle board, you want to ensure that you can stand up at all on it first. Start by kneeling and paddling using long strokes, alternating each side. Once you feel comfortable with this, slowly stand up. Some use their paddle to help steady them, while others prefer not to. Keep your feet hip-width apart, and if possible, spread your toes. As strange as that sounds, it will give you a solid base to paddle on, and you will be far less likely to fall off. A good tip is to keep your eyes on the horizon. Since it doesn’t move, it lets you trick your body and stay more balanced. This can be tricky since you need to keep your eyes out for rocks, but it is a generally good rule to help focus.
Try out some basic stretches on land first.
Since the stretches will be much harder on a paddle board, you could take some yoga lessons or use tutorials to practice your stretches on the regular ground first. Unless you are very confident in your yoga ability, I recommend keeping the stretches simple, such as downward-facing dog, cobra, cat-cows, mountains pose, or child’s pose. As you become more confident, you can try more challenging stretches that keep your center of gravity low down and close to the board. These could include a plow pose, or a shoulder stand and would undeniably make an incredible Instagram photo out on the water!
Master your breathing.
While it may seem obvious, your breathing will be even more vital while you are on the paddle board, as it keeps your body movements flowing smoothly and focuses your mind on your balance. Making this a focal point of practice through regular yoga sessions will develop your body-brain connection and enable you to improve your yoga on your paddle board.
Check the weather.
Regardless of your ability, being aware of the weather and water conditions before you begin is essential. If you’re brave, this could even be a sport you can enjoy in the rain, but the wind will undoubtedly be your enemy. Since SUP yoga is even more difficult than your usual stand up paddle boarding, ideally, you will want as little wind and waves as possible. Use apps such as magic seaweed to understand the conditions since standard weather apps don’t offer information about wave size. These apps can seem confusing, and to get more details about rips and currents, you can always ask the locals or the friendly folk that works in paddle board rental shops.
Get out there and give it a go!
Indeed, the best way to improve is to practice. Since there is nothing that can quite compare to the rocky surface of the paddle board while it’s on the water, you will struggle to practice in any way other than out on the water. Having your own board or hiring one gives you the freedom to go whenever and wherever you want.
Hopefully, this has given some insight into this newly popular water sport that is taking Instagram by storm. You feel inspired to get out there and give it a go yourself. While it may seem daunting, once you master your poses on your board, I can guarantee it will all seem worth it. Even if you fall in the water several times, you might have found your new favorite hobby.