SUP Yoga Basics
SUP Yoga is healthy for your mind, body and spirit. It can be intimidating to start trying yoga on the water, but we know if you start with these basic poses you'll quickly see the benefits you'll gain from this and fall in love with yoga all over again.
Stand up paddle board yoga or SUP Yoga has exploded in popularity over the last decade right along with land-based yoga practices.
The reasons for the popularity of SUP Yoga are many but the two reasons that most yogi’s give are the extra challenge that they get while trying to balance on a board and the opportunity to commune with nature.
Glide has been on the forefront of the SUP Yoga movement since it’s foundation, so we are able to offer some unique insights on how to begin your SUP Yoga practice.
First off, it’s important to have a proper stand up paddle board for SUP yoga.
The main factor that you will want to keep in mind here is the width of a board. Generally, you will want a SUP that is 34-35 inches wide because narrower boards will really limit the number of poses that you are able to perform.
You will also want to make sure that the deck pad on the board doesn’t have the ridges or bumps that some SUP’s have as you will find they are quite uncomfortable for SUP yoga.
You also will want to make sure that the deck pad of your SUP covers most of the top of the board or is at least as long and wide as a yoga mat would be.
You will also want to make sure that the board has bungee cords attached so that you can store your paddle and PFD. There should also be a place on the board where you can easily tie down an anchor or can tie onto another board.
The best way to master SUP yoga is to take a class with a certified instructor but if you insist on going it alone, we recommend that you check the weather before you head out for your maiden SUP yoga attempt.
Also, make certain that the body of water you will be on doesn’t have boat wakes as it’s challenging enough to balance your poses on a SUP without extra rocking coming from the water. Finding a sheltered cove is highly recommended.
The key to balancing while doing yoga on your SUP is finding the center line on the board which is easy to do as most SUP handles are dead center in the middle of the board.
You will want to make sure that your weight is always centered over the handle to prevent unwanted plunges. Make sure that you focus on slow, deep breaths and not rushing each pose.
You also will want to fix your gaze on the horizon which will assist your balance immensely.
Now let’s get started on some easy poses to start with on your SUP
Easy Seated Pose
Facing the front of your board, sit with your hips on the handle and let your hands rest gently on your knees. Sit up tall and take deep breaths from the abdomen while observing the subtle rocking of the water beneath you.
Begin in Tabletop pose with your belly button above the board’s handle. Then widen your knees and bring your big toes to touch. Sink your hips back onto your heels and rest your forehead on the board. Let your arms extend long in front of you.
From Tabletop, slowly send your hips and back up while straightening your legs and gaze at the horizon behind you. Stretch your elbows and relax your upper back. Spread your fingers wide and press firmly through your palms and knuckles. Distribute your weight evenly across your hands.
From Down Dog, shift forward and stack your shoulders above your wrists. Create a long, straight line from the crown of your head to your heels. Engage the low belly and add heat by lifting one leg at a time. If this is too difficult, drop your knees.
Lie on your stomach with your toes pointing straight back and your hands underneath your shoulders, elbows close to the body. Keep your legs engaged and pull the belly in and up. As you inhale, lift your chest from the back of your heart and roll the collarbones up and firm the shoulder blades into the upper back. Lift your head last and open your heart,
From Tabletop or Down Dog with your hips over the handle, step the right foot forward between the palms, and stack your knee in line with your ankle. Gently lower your left knee down and allow the top of the foot to settle on the SUP board mat. Slide your left knee back as far as feels comfortable. Inhale and slowly rise, sweeping your hands overhead to frame the ears
Wide Leg Standing Forward Fold
From Low Lunge, place both hands inside the front knee and walk to the rail (edge of the board). Apply even pressure with your hands as your rotate onto the ball mounds of both feet, then lower heels toward the opposite SUP rail. Your hands and feet should be the same distance apart that you would have them on land. Place your hands beneath your shoulders, with your legs wider than hip distance and with your toes slightly turned in.
Kneeling around the handle of the board, support your lower back with your hands before moving into Camel pose. The instability of the water will create more of a challenge, so begin with your toes tucked or try a gentler kneeling backbend by placing one hand behind you, while lifting the hips and sweeping the opposite arm overhead. Then switch sides.
Pigeon pose is quite soothing on the water. From Down Dog, bring your right foot toward your right wrist, then set your knee and shin on the mat. Straighten your left leg back — your legs will resemble the shape of the number 7. Work with your level of flexibility and place your heel a comfortable distance from your groin. Align your right knee in line with your right hip and flex your right foot. Walk your hands forward and lower your forehead to the mat. Relax into the pose and take in the sound of the waves as they lap at your board.
Begin on your back with your posterior over the SUP handle. Keep your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the sup board so that your fingertips can graze your heels. Keep your feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart and lift your hips toward the sky while binding your arms beneath to give you additional height.
Don’t skip this one, as there’s nothing quite as serene as relaxing with the sun kissing your face and the water rocking you into a blissful state.
And there you have it! Now you are ready to take both your yoga and SUP practices to the next level.