How to Exercise Doing Yoga on a SUP

Stand up Paddleboard Yoga or SUP Yoga is a great way to experience the wonders of nature and the health benefits of yoga. This unlikely mix of two different disciplines is now one of the biggest movements of the SUP subculture globally. Whether you are a veteran yogi who wants to try something new or an avid paddler who likes a different way of enjoying the water, SUP Yoga is the one for you.

What is SUP Yoga, anyway?

Stand up paddleboarding Yoga is simply yoga while on a SUP. This combination of two unlikely activities is what makes this such a uniquely fun experience.  SUP yoga is perfect for going on a yoga retreat in Hawaii, for it is directly involved with nature.

Stand up paddleboard started in Hawaii in the 1940s. This emerged from the strong surfing subculture. Today it has grown into its community with a huge following around the globe. Yoga, on the other hand, dates back to ancient India. It is a series of physical, mental, and spiritual practices born from Hinduism. SUP Yoga started sometime around 2013 in the USA. Its popularity started to grow and has now become one of the biggest subgenres of stand up paddleboarding.

Why should you try SUP Yoga?

SUP Yoga shares the best of both worlds. It retains the many health benefits of Yoga like its meditative and relaxing effect. The dynamic movement of the board on the water makes the practitioner fully present in the moment and not go into autopilot mode. Balance is also a key factor in SUP Yoga. This makes it a full-body workout that engages every muscle in your body. If you are a long time practitioner, doing Yoga on a paddleboard can give you a fresh perspective on the practice. The new setting and added challenge stimulate the mind.

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SUP Yoga basic poses

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here are a few yoga poses you can⁠—and should⁠—try out! These poses are simple to do even beginners can do them with a bit of persistence. You can do these on your own or with a group depending on your skill level and preference.

Things to prepare

Before heading out, here are a few things you need for your SUP Yoga sessions:

All-around boards are usually great for Yoga. They are wide enough to move around on and sit quite high above the water. Just make sure to find a board with an extra-wide traction pad for better comfort.

Next, you would want an anchor or tether to keep your board from floating away. Kayak or paddleboard anchors are great for this. They can be found almost everywhere are setup is minimal.

Bring a personal floatation device or PFD. Though usually practised on calm flat waters, it is still a good idea to keep one on you. In line with this, get a tether for the board and your paddle so they won’t float away when you are off the board.

Easy Seated Pose

While facing the nose of the board, sit down right in the middle of the board. Keep your backs straight yet relaxed. Cross your legs and let your hands rest on your knees. While doing this, maintain a steady pace of deep abdominal breathes. Take this time to notice how the board sways on the water.

Chair Pose

Stand straight in the middle of the board with your legs side by side at shoulder-width apart. While holding your paddle with both hands, raise your arms high up keeping them straight. Then gently lower yourself as if you are about to sit on a chair. Be sure to keep your back straight while maintaining steady breathing.

Warrior 2 Pose

To do this iconic pose stand in the middle of the board facing the side. With your legs wide apart raise your arms shoulder height keeping them straight. Keep your hands open and flat with the palms facing down. Then turn your head facing the front of the board and slowly lunge toward it. Keep your forward knee bent at a 90-degree angle.

Bridge Pose

Start by lying on your back with your arms on your sides. Next, position your legs such that your knees are bent by moving them closer to your glutes just until your fingertips slightly touch your heels. Spread your legs apart a little more shoulder-length apart. Next, lift your hips into the air. Grasp both of your hands while doing this.

Downward-facing Dog

Begin by placing both your hands and knees on the board with your back parallel to the board. This is what’s known as a Table Top pose. Widen your feet a little for stability. Then slowly raise your back and hips upwards towards the sky. Keep your legs and arms straight. Move your body gently until you are settled in the pose.

Upward Facing Dog

Start lay on the board in the prone position (facing down). Next, put both your hands further down your shoulders⁠—right where your ribs are⁠—while keeping them flat on the board. Your elbows should be parallel to your body. Slowly raise your upper body upward while inhaling. Your lower body should be parallel to the board while your back forms a slope.

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This is an easy one. Begin the position from Downward-facing Dog. slowly shift your body forward keeping your arms straight and lowering your hips along the way. Stop until your shoulders are directly above your hands with your arms perpendicular to the board. Make sure that the top of your head to your heels make one straight line.

Crescent Lunge

Begin in the Table Top position. Move your right foot forward and plant it firmly in between your hands. Make small adjustments until you are stable and comfortable in the position. Then slowly raise both your arms straight up. Then, slowly shift your body forward while arching your back backwards.

Child’s Pose

This pose also starts with the Table Top position. Move your feet closer together and start slowly lowering your hips towards your heels. Keep your arms outstretched throughout the motion. When done correctly, your buttocks should be resting on your heels with your body close to your thighs and your arms outstretched towards the nose of the board.

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Shavasana or Corpse Pose

Finally, to cap everything off is the Shavasana or Corpse Pose. Simply lie on your back with your arms on the side. Keep your legs straight and slightly apart. Let your body and mind relax and maintain slow and steady breathing. Take this time to enjoy the gentle rocking of your board on the water.

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