Ever since the first yogi or yogini got on a paddle board, SUP yoga has spread rapidly, encouraging paddle boarders every where to try it. Paddle boarding and yoga can be the perfect combination. Depending on the type of paddling you are doing, you can combine yoga poses to counter act the movements of the muscles your body makes to paddle. It can also serve to stretch your body after a long paddle.
It is an excellent way to maximize your paddle board. For paddle board yoga, use a board that is stable. I suggest using a flat-water board that measures at least a 10’6”.
In this guide we will introduce you to three postures that you can practice atop you board. Be careful to not force your body into anything that does not feel right. Work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
USTRASANA (Camel pose) SUP Yoga
Ustrasana or camel pose is an excellent back bend and chest opener. Spine extensions are great for relieving lower back pain.
How to Get Into It:
- Kneel on your board with your knees directly below your hips and the tops of your feet on the deck pad. Place your palms on your lower back with you fingers facing down.
- Inhale to arch your spine and as you lean back, slide your hands to grab hold of your feet.
- Do not strain or flex your neck but keep it in a neutral position. Push your hips forward so that they are above your knees. This deepens the stretch along the front of your body
- Stay in this posture for a couple of breaths. Breathe out and slowly come back to the initial pose. Withdraw your hands and bring them to the small of your back as you straighten up.
- Stretches the neck, chest, abdomen, thighs, hip flexors, groins, and ankles
- Strengthens back muscles, gluteal muscles, and arm muscles (triceps)
- Relieves the body of lower back ache
- Improves flexibility of the spine and also improves posture
- Massages and stimulates your abdominal organs promoting digestion
- Corrects posture, especially upper back and shoulder rounding
- Helps overcome menstrual discomfort
Every pose has a counter pose. These are important for the neutralization of the spine. Try doing Balasana (child’s pose) or any forward fold after camel pose.
Avoid this pose if you suffer from insomnia, have a back injury or neck injury, or high or low blood pressure.
NAVASANA (Boat pose) SUP Yoga
Practicing this pose on a paddle board is fun because you really do feel like a boat. The key to this pose is balancing the weight of your legs against the weight of your upper body by engaging the core. Keep your spine straight. Only lift your legs as high as your spine allows you by staying neutral. If your spine curves, you know you have gone too far. Either lower your legs or bend them at the knees.
How to Get Into it:
- Sit on the center of the board with your knees bent and your feet on the deck. Engage your core and float your feet off the board. With a neutral spine, lean slightly back.
- Bring your legs to tabletop, meaning your shins are parallel to the water. Hold the back of your thighs to stabilize yourself in this position.
- Release your arms and hold them out in front of you, palms facing each other. Pull your navel towards your spine and maintain your shoulders away from your ears.
- Leave your knees bent if this is enough of a challenge for you. If not, lengthen and straighten your legs. Hold for five breaths and lower your legs down with control. Rest and repeat five times.
- Stretches the hamstrings and hip flexors
- Strengthens legs, back and abdominal muscles
- Aids in digestion by stimulating the intestines
- Improves balance and breathing
- Develops concentration and patience
From the sitting position you are in, place you feet down on the board. Hug the back of your thighs and bring your chest to your legs. Allow the spine to round forward and stay in that position for a few recovery breaths.
Avoid this pose if you have recently undergone abdominal surgery, suffer from stomach issues, high blood pressure or have any lower back injuries.
SETU BANDHASANA (Half bridge pose) SUP Yoga Pose
This pose will help you work towards a full bridge posture. As a bonus, it promotes relaxation and reduces stress.
How to Get Into it:
- Begin lying down on the board. Bend your knees and place your feet hip-width apart onto the board. Reach your hands towards your feet. You should be able to graze your heels with your fingertips.
- Lay your arms by the sides of your body, palms facing down. Press into the arms and lift your hips to the sky. Keep the whole of the foot firmly placed on the board so that you don’t roll onto the sides of the feet.
- Clasp your hands underneath you and continue pushing your hips up. Look up above and maintain a space between your chin and your chest. Hold for five breaths.
- Stretches the abdominal muscles, chest, hips and front of the legs
- Strengthens the buttocks, upper back and hamstring muscles
- Reduces anxiety, back pain, insomnia and headaches
- Improves circulation and promotes digestion
As with the back-bending camel pose, you can practice child’s pose or a forward bend after half bridge. You can also do a spine-twisting pose. For example, once you lower your back down on the board, spread your feet as wide as the board and let your knees fall to the right. After a few breaths, take your knees over to the left. Spine twists are great to release tension in the lower back.
Avoid this posture if you are suffering any knee or neck injuries, or if you are pregnant.
Stay tuned for more yoga poses you can try the next time you go paddle boarding!