Photo Credit: www.yoga-water.com
Cross Training Like You’ve Never Seen Before: SUP Yoga
We fell in love with stand up paddle boarding last summer. I was always skeptical, my primary reasons for practicing yoga were to sweat and stretch. I love a good long Shavasana as much as the next casual Yogi but ultimately that’s not why I’m in that studio.
So when I first was introduced to the idea of SUP Yoga I wasn’t particularly excited. I LOVE my 10 minute yoga routine (LINK) and the weekly classes I attend, I wasn’t sure I’d love downward dogs on a SUP.
SUP Yoga 101
Stand Up Paddle Boarding has been around for decades, Stand Up Paddle Yoga, is still a wee infant. It wasn’t until 2008 that formal classes were being taught (although I’m sure lots of creative guys n’ gals were experimenting on their own).
SUP Yoga is exactly what you think it is. Yoga on a paddle board, in the middle of the ocean or any other large body of water (as I re-read this, I’m wondering which part of my brain initially decided this wouldn’t be awesome).
Instead of four walls and six inches between the mats, there is 15 feet between the “mats” and ya know, an ocean.
I was incredibly surprised how insanely relaxing SUP Yoga is. Again, reflecting upon this I probably shouldn’t have been. I find both paddle boarding and Yoga to be relaxing in their own right, but for very different reasons.
With Paddle Boarding I love connecting with nature, I love the rhythmic sound of the waves lapping over the board as I cruise along an ocean that literally seems to go forever. I love the quiet reflection, some of my better ideas have come on the ocean. My mind is given permission to wander.
Yoga is a completely different type of relaxation. My muscles relax as I settle into poses and my mind is brought to focus on my breath. Perhaps, it’s just me but I sure don’t get a lot of good thinking done in a Yoga studio. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that I’m a novice and each pose is an immense struggle.
They’re both terrific, but together? Incredible. I found the poses to be much gentler; the intention is that each pose will be slightly more difficult on a SUP then on a bamboo floor. Relative to my flexibility, I have great core strength. I don’t have terrible difficulty performing plank or downward dog on a SUP.
Instead I experience incredible tranquility that a focus on breathing, the sounds of the waves and an incredible view can only provide.
Sold? Here’s What You Need
Sunscreen or a wetsuit, depending on the weather
A water bottle. It’s easy to forget to stay hydrated when you’re surrounded by water. We recommend this water bottle for Stand Up Paddle Boarding (Yoga or otherwise)
A little bit of paddle boarding experience. This one isn’t absolutely necessary but expect to fall in to the wet stuff a lot more if you’ve never been on a SUP before.
SUP Yoga Retreats
Another surf and yoga retreat has been on radar for a while now. Recently, I’ve added SUP Yoga to that list of must haves.
WASUP Yoga Retreats offers a retreat to Costa Rica full of surf, sun, SUP and Yoga. It’s fairly pricey at $1700, it’s a 7 day retreat that includes everything outside of flights. Ya, gotta get there on your own!
You can also check out paddleboardbliss for trips to Bali. It’s also a fairly large retreat (ie: they actually advertise and have legitment websites) and is as such it’s pretty expensive. (starts @ $1750 for 8 days without flights)
If you’re not already into paddle boarding, don’t own a board and are thinking SUP Yoga sounds pretty awesome, I recommend first borrowing a board from a friend or renting one. Give it a whirl, make sure Stand Up Paddle Boarding is for you!
If you’re digging it and want to make the commitment you want to look for a board that offers stability and comfort. A wide inflatable SUP board with lots of volume is the trick to this.
Width and volume provide stability. Inflatable boards are a lot more comfortable to lounge on then a solid boards. A solid board replicates a floor, an inflatable board will add that cushioning that your mat would normally provide.
Here are our suggestions for the Best SUP Yoga Boards:
Naish Mana Air
The Naish Mana Air is still our favorite board for doing Yoga on the water. It’s a quality all-around board but it really shines as a platform to do yoga on. It’s 34″ wide which is great and it holds 230L which is to say it’s extremely stable.
10’ & 10’6 BIC Sport SUP AIR Inflatable Stand-Up Paddleboard
The 10’ has a 30” cross section while the 10’6 BIC SUP has a 33” cross section which are both solid surfaces for a little afternoon SUP Yoga. The deck has an extremely soft feel which helps when you’re finishing up with Shavasana
Advanced Elements Lotus YSUP Inflatable Yoga SUP Board
The advanced elements YSUP Board is a solid choice as well. I’ve been on sturdier boards but the full length traction pad is perfect for Yoga on the water.
I initially bought this board because it was one of the cheaper boards on the market with a huge surface area. It’s turned into a terrific board for my practice in the ocean.