Stand-up paddleboarding is becoming more popular these days. Aside from being fun and exciting, SUP forces you to immerse yourself in nature, something that you might not have enough of.
There’s no doubt that SUP is a fun and relaxing sport but to prove to you that it can be as relaxing as some people say it is, there’s what you call SUP yoga. Yes, yoga on water exists and a lot of people are getting on the bandwagon. It’s about time you did, too.
What is SUP Yoga?
Stand-up paddleboard yoga or simply SUP yoga is just literally doing yoga on a paddleboard. It’s doing your poses and keeping your breath at a steady pace while you steady yourself on your paddleboard.
Wait, isn’t that hard? A lot of people think so and they are right. When you compare SUP yoga to actual yoga, the former will always be more challenging. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to do.
What are the Benefits of SUP Yoga?
If you can do yoga on land, why do it on a paddleboard? That’s a great question. It’s definitely something you may want to try if you’re into yoga and you want to mix things up a little. Here are some benefits that might convince you to take a shot at it.
Improves your technique when doing land yoga
Did you know that SUP yoga can actually improve your technique in yoga? The added difficulty of maintaining your balance on a paddleboard greatly helps in refining your technique. This allows you to take a look at your poses and see if they are in the right form.
Challenges your balance and your core
As if yoga on land isn’t challenging enough, SUP yoga is here to put your balance and core to the test. SUP yoga is slightly different from yoga simply because you’re doing this on an unsteady surface. One wrong move and you might fall into the water.
That’s why SUP yoga is a more challenging activity. It brings you to focus on your core so that you can master your balance. And even when you’re just doing a simple child’s pose, you’re still engaging your core to steady yourself.
Your flexibility will improve, too. As you practice SUP yoga, you’ll notice that your muscles will be used to the moves that you make while you balance yourself on the board. In turn, the muscles strengthen and lengthen, making it easier for you to do complicated poses on land.
Calms the mind
Ever experienced doing yoga but failing at it because you keep getting distracted by the noise outside? This won’t be a problem with SUP yoga. With this water activity, you’re away from all the noise of the city. You’re also away from your phone.
To add to that, you’re out in nature, basking in its warm glow. What is more relaxing than that? So if you’re looking to calm your mind, SUP yoga can work for you.
One of the techniques of maintaining your balance while on the paddleboard is being mindful of your breathing. Focusing on your breathing allows you to steady yourself as you move from one pose to another. The effect is that you have better blood circulation. As you improve on this, you’ll notice that you lessen the stress on your body and mind, too.
20 Paddle Board Yoga Poses to Try
Convinced that SUP yoga is the perfect challenge to you? Then here are 20 poses that can help you get started in your journey.
Easy Seated Prayer Pose
The easy seated prayer pose feels too simple to do but it’s one of the best poses that will help you ease slowly into your practice. It’s a perfect pose for listening to your surroundings and your breathing. Eventually, you’ll be able to focus on the present.
An easy seated prayer pose starts with just resting on your glutes and folding your legs in a cross-legged position. You can choose to put your hands on top of your thighs or put it in a prayer position. Stay in this position as you take a couple of breaths.
Over the course of your SUP yoga session, go back to this pose as this helps you be more aware of your breathing.
Child’s pose is another popular yoga pose because it’s a great stretch for your whole back. It reduces the strain on your shoulders, arms, and lower back. If you’ve been experiencing tension on your back, this is a stretch you want to do. Besides, this is an easier pose since you won’t be standing up.
To do a child’s pose, start with a tabletop position where you are on your fours on the board. Make sure that your navel is above the board’s handle so the board doesn’t lose its balance when you shift your weight. Widen your knees in a ‘v’ position and have your big toes touch each other.
Once your legs are settled, slowly ease your body back towards your legs. Your upper body should be resting above your thighs. While you do this, keep your hands outstretched. This way, you lengthen your spine even more.
The tabletop pose is a staple in yoga. It’s also a beginner pose that can help you get in touch with your balance. There are many variations to this pos, but if you’re just starting out, it will help to go for the simple tabletop position first.
A simple tabletop pose is when you’re on all fours. Your arms and legs should be parallel to one another. Your arms should be directly under your shoulders while your knees are just hip-width apart.
Once you’re comfortable with the tabletop position, you can now start doing some variations. One popular variation is the needle pose. The needle pose gives a good stretch to your back. It also helps relieve tension on the shoulders.
To do a needle pose, raise one arm, and just like a thread, put it right through the hole made by your opposite arm. Stretch this arm until your shoulder is fully rested on the paddleboard. You can keep the other arm as is or you can place it gently on the lower part of your back.
A plank is considered a full-body workout as it engages your core and your limbs. It looks simple but if you have to hold the position for a minute, you’ll realize that it’s not so easy.
The yoga version of a plank is similar to a push-up except that you stay at a raised position. Your hands must be shoulder-width apart and your back is straight.
Most people tend to lean forward making their stomachs touch the paddleboard. On the other hand, some people arch their back too much. To do the right plank, you have to maintain a straight line with your back. Your legs should also be straight.
The bridge pose is not just a yoga pose. If you’ve done some glute and core workouts before, then this pose might sound familiar to you.
To do a bridge pose, lie down with your back on the paddleboard. Make sure that you’re right in the middle so that your board doesn’t dip on one side. Slowly move one leg close to your torso. Do the same for your other leg. Your fingertips should be able to touch the heels of your feet. While you adjust your position, lift your belly up to the sky. Keep your head flat on the paddleboard and your shoulders relaxed.
The bridge pose is relatively easy compared to other yoga poses. Fortunately, there are other ways to make this more challenging. One is by raising one leg so that the calf is parallel to the board. You can do this alternately after a few breaths.
Of course, the famous downward-facing dog will not be forgotten. This yoga pose is a great way to stretch the legs. At first, it’s going to hurt your calves but after a few tries, they won’t hurt as much. Eventually, your legs will have improved flexibility, too.
Most of the time, a downward-facing dog comes from a tabletop pose or a cobra pose. If you’re coming from a tabletop pose, extend your legs to the back. Tuck your toes and with your core, push your hips to the sky. You should be able to form a triangle. This is a downward-facing dog.
On the other hand, if you’re coming from a cobra pose, just go ahead and tuck your toes. Using your arms and your core, push your hips up until you form a triangle.
To make the downward-facing dog a lot easier, don’t force your legs to be straight. You can bend your knees slightly to loosen your calves. You can also take a step back to lessen the pain.
The chair pose looks a little awkward because you’re not fully squatting but it looks and feels that way. You can say that a chair pose is a semi-squat with your arms outstretched.
To do a chair pose, get up on your feet. Your feet should be hip-width apart. It’s highly recommended that you stay in the middle of the board so that the weight is at the board’s center of gravity. Then, slowly squat. You’re not going to do a full squat here. Instead, just squat until your knees don’t go beyond your toes. Then, raise your arms to the sky. It should be at an angle less than 90 degrees.
Doing a chair pose is easy but since you’re no longer in a seated or lying position, balancing becomes harder.
What’s a revolved triangle? The name might sound intimidating, but it’s anything but. It makes balancing easier because your legs are far apart (which spreads your weight evenly around the board).
To start doing a revolved triangle pose, put your left foot at the back. Ground your knee to the board. Then, place your right leg in front of you. Your two feet should make a straight line. Then, with your arms, form a ‘T’.
With your left arm, slowly revolve your body to the right. To do this, sway your left arm until it rests on the paddleboard. The opposite arm should then be reaching for the sky. To make this easy on your neck, let your head follow the direction of your right hand.
Relax your toes and your legs. If your calves hurt, slightly bend your knees.
Want something more challenging? Then it’s time to do the warrior poses. Warrior poses are like lunges with outstretched arms.
The basic warrior pose is Warrior II. Warrior II is done by starting in a lunge position. But instead of going down, you raise your body up until your right calf is perpendicular to the paddleboard. To lessen the strain on your left leg, your toes should be slanted, pointing to the northwest.
To improve your balance, raise your arms on shoulder-level. If our right calf is in front, then so should your right arm be. Likewise, your left hand should be at the back. Take a few deep breaths until you’re ready to change positions.
Looking for a twist for the Warrior II pose? Here’s another warrior pose that will surely challenge your core and your balance.
To do a Warrior III, you can choose to use your paddle for additional support. If not, then it’s totally okay but know that it would be more difficult to maintain your balance.
Warrior III starts by having your dominant leg step forward. If you’re using a paddle, have two hands hold the paddle for support. Make sure that the paddle is right in front of you. When you’re steady, lift your non-dominant leg up.
As a newbie, this pose can be very challenging. Here’s a tip: use a paddle to maintain your balance while you slowly lift your non-dominant leg. Keep raising your leg slowly until the calves are almost parallel to the paddleboard.
Wide Leg Standing Forward Fold
Not all standing poses in yoga are lunges. Some are just really good stretches that raise your hips to the sky. The wide-leg standing forward fold is one example of such pose.
Unlike other standing poses, you’re going to facing the side of the board. Instead of facing the nose, face one side. Move back slowly so that your feet are at the side of the board. Be careful not to put all your weight on this side because you might fall.
Almost simultaneously, bend forward until your elbows are at the opposite side of the board. This evens out your weight across the paddleboard. As you bend forward, try to reach the other side of the board using the top of your head. If it’s too difficult, maintain your head low.
Just like Warrior III, the tree pose often needs a paddle to help balance your body. A tree pose starts with a simple standing position. Hold your paddle with your dominant hand and rest it 45 degrees from your legs. Don’t put the paddle too far from your chest.
Slowly, lift your dominant leg and rest your feet on the side of the other leg’s inner calf. It’s like you’re making a triangle with your dominant leg.
From a kneeling position, straighten your back and lift your buttocks from your calves. Make sure your shoulders are dropped to the sides. To start, slowly swing your arms to the back until they are above your feet. Yes, you’ll be bending back.
The camel pose is a great way to open your chest up while releasing tension on your shoulders and shoulder blades.
The sleeping pigeon pose can be likened to the child’s pose except that you have one leg tucked in. Don’t worry, it’s still easy to do.
For you to do a sleeping pigeon pose, it’s best to sit down in the middle of the paddleboard. Face the nose of the board as you will be stretching your legs later. Then, bring one leg to the back. This automatically bends your torso forward.
Your back leg should have your heel facing pointing to the sky. To make the pose more comfortable, the other leg’s knee should face the tip of your paddleboard. And like the child’s pose, bend over until your hands are outstretched and your forehead is resting on the paddleboard.
A fallen triangle pose on a paddleboard is probably one of the most unique yoga poses you’ll see on the water. To do this, start from a downward-facing dog position. This way, it’s easier to twist your body.
Start by lifting your right feet to reach the sky, then slowly bend it and insert the leg in the space between your other leg and your right arm. It’s a lot like a needle pose, but this time, your leg is the one going through the hole.
Relax your right foot until it touches the water. To even out the pose, raise your left arm to the sky. Open your hips wide and let your face lift up to the sky.
Wheel poses are a great stretch for your whole body. It opens you up and it releases the tension in both your arms and your back. Some wheel poses can challenge your leg muscles.
To do a full wheel pose, lie down on your paddleboard. Bend your arms so that they are beside your face. Bend your knees to resemble a tabletop pose. Then, using your core, push yourself up until you make a semi-circle with your body.
Mountain pose is a very simple yoga pose that does wonders for your breathing and balance. It may be simple but it’s a good pose to do once in a while when you lose your concentration on your breathing.
To do a mountain pose, you simply stand in the middle of your paddleboard. Put your hands in a praying position right in front of your chest. Take a few deep breaths to keep your balance. When you’re ready, lift your arms by stretching them to the side until they meet above your head. Arch your back while doing so.
When your hands meet above your head, bow forward until your palms touch the board. If your calves ache so much, slowly bend your knees until your hands touch the paddleboard. Take a few breaths in this bowing position.
Don’t forget about Savasana! After a day of simple to complex yoga poses, it’s always a great idea to top it all off with a Savasana.
Savasana is probably the easiest yoga pose to do because you’re lying flat on your back. Yes, you won’t be kneeling or lunging or twisting any arms. You’re just going to lie down flat on your back with your hands on your sides or falling on the water. Your legs will also be just hip-width apart.
SUP yoga can be challenging but it can also be very relaxing. If you’re a beginner, there’s no shame in doing simpler variations. What’s more important is that you focus on your breathing throughout the session. The focus you give to your movements and your breathing is enough to clear some space in your mind.