While the Boga SUP Yoga Board was somewhat of an exotic toy a few years ago, most of the big brands now have SUP Yoga Boards in their lineup.
Is this a desperate attempt to create growth in a market that might reach stagnation or is there something to doing Yoga on a paddleboard? I went out and did some research and also attended a SUP Yoga Instructor workshop (already being an ISA and ASI certified SUP Instructor). Here are my findings:
SUP Yoga for Stand Up Paddlers
SUP Yoga is a great addition to the training program for any professional or recreational SUP Racer.
Yoga practice is a great way to stay flexible, focused and reduce stress. While SUP yoga seems to be the latest craze, I like to use my paddleboard for paddling and my mat for yoga
Chase Kosterlitz, SUP Race Training the smart way. Well we are in agreement that Yoga is a great way to stay flexible and stretch and relax the muscles used Stand Up Paddling.
I would like to argue that there are some benefits to actually doing Yoga on the paddleboard vs. the yoga mat. Yoga moves like the “Shoulder Salutation” are a great before and after paddling. Doing those on the board before heading out just seems natural. Also it will give you a quiet, relaxed place to do it as opposed to on the shore/beach were everyone is watching or chatting you up. If you are in a place where it’s hot, doing Yoga on the board will be cooler as you always get a nice breeze (and who wants to be in an A/C gym when it is blue skies and sunny outside).
Doing yoga on your board, even your raceboard (I have done it on a 14’x23″ board, its possible) will make you more confident on your board in choppy conditions. Try exercises like the “Tree” and see our far you can get your foot up on the side of your leg. It is also great if you have recently switched to the new board.
I took my experiment to the next level. I recently paddled 70km over two days in very windy conditions (10.5 hours in total). I did not do my usual SUP warm-up and did not have massages afterwards, I only used the SUP Sequences I learned in the SUP Yoga workshop (having incorporated some of my SUP warmup Routines into the Yoga moves during the workshop). I had not paddled longer than an hour for a year but was not too sore and my shoulder on which I had surgery did not give me any trouble.
Reasons to do Yoga on a SUP
- Yoga is good for your mind and body. Doing it on a SUP makes Yoga more accessible to people who come from SUP and have not felt very attracted to Yoga before since it uses an element they know and understand: Their paddleboard
- When you do yoga on a paddle board, you increase the challenge since the platform is unstable.
- Learn to appreciate nature in a new way – It is great to stand on a yoga board or be in a pose and look into the water to see fish, sea turtles or other sea life, it makes the workout more exciting
- It will refine your Yoga technique.You’ll be more in tune with your poses, according to Namaste S.U.P. For example, during downward dog, if you have more weight on one side, your board will let you know.
- It’s more calming.The sensation of floating helps to alleviate the heaviness that life sometimes throws on our shoulders.
- It’s not too hot and not too cold. Doing a workout on the beach on St. John is very hot, but who wants to be in an air-conditioned gym on this beautiful island. On the water there always is a slight breeze and if you get to hot, just take a dip!
- It will help you focus on your breath.Ujjayi Pranayama, or Ocean Breath, is a popular yoga method for breathing because the “ocean” sound is believed to soothe your mind. And some researchers believe that listening to the sound of the ocean can help people to relax. The gentle sound of water lapping while on a paddleboard will help you relax and key you in to the most important aspect of yoga: your breath.
- It’s fun. It’s well-known that novelty is important in exercise regimens in order to stay motivated and happy. According to the National Institute of Health, “Mixing it up also helps to reduce boredom and cut your risk of injury
- It’s just a touch scary. The very real possibility of falling into the water provides just enough adrenaline to your workout to keep you focused and motivated. And that, explains Men’s Health, could help you fight the ill-effects of stress in your everyday life.
- It teaches you to get back up. If you do fall in, you are forced to overcome the set-back, climb back up on your board, and try again — which is a life lesson in and of itself. Yoga-instructor lida-Klein says that conquering the fear of falling in is essential. “The quicker you become okay with falling into the water,” he told Men’s Fitness, “the better you’ll feel and the easier it will be.”
See SUP Yoga in Action
SUP Yoga with Jodelle – Part 1
SUP Yoga with Jodelle – Part 2
SUP Yoga Equipment
While SUP Yoga boards and platforms are great for SUP or Yoga schools that offer SUP Yoga classes or hardcore SUP Yogis, you don’t need an extra board if you want to start with Yoga on a SUP. It’s possible to even do it on a raceboard. Some poses might not be possible, but the ones you did will be even more effective. The board should however have a top that is comfortable and flat (so maybe not the Starboard Ace with the low stance).
In windy environments it helps if you can tie up the board to a mooring ball or line, this usually works with the ankle leash but it is nicer if you can tie it up on the front. Be creative, use the handle or luggage net or glue something like a plug to the board. Alternatively you can use SUP Yoga anchors.
Also make sure you don’t loose your paddle. You can for example tie it up with an extra leash.