There are many reasons to try out SUP yoga. You may be an extreme sport addict and your Bikram classes just aren’t fueling your adrenaline. Maybe paddle boarding is your peace and you want to take that peace to the next level by adding yoga.
Whatever your reason for being drawn to SUP yoga, there is no better time to try it out than now. In this article, we’ve detailed an easy Sun Salutation yoga sequence to get you started in this both calming and exciting new discipline.
Similarities and Differences Between SUP and Traditional Yoga
Let’s begin by comparing traditional yoga with SUP yoga. The biggest difference is obvious: you are practicing yoga on a stand-up paddle board on the water instead of on a mat in a gym or your home. Paddle boarding itself can create a myriad of challenges. Throw in some yoga, and you’ve got yourself one challenging workout.
Both SUP and traditional yoga boast the same goals, which is achieving a union of mind, body and spirit. Both utilize the same poses to help increase immunity, improve mental clarity, tone muscles and increase flexibility. Either practice can leave you feeling refreshed and relaxed or upbeat and energized.
Rather than practicing yoga on a static mat on the floor, SUP yoga takes place on the water. Water is fluid, and it requires you to be more fluid in your movements. While you will be facing new issues like water current, wind and some inevitable rocking and rolling, you will also have the use of your paddle for additional balance.
A final difference between the two is that with SUP yoga, you always have the looming danger — or exhilaration — of taking an unplanned plunge into the water. Even if this thought appeals to you, it can take away from your focus and mindfulness. As such, practicing before hitting the water might be a good idea. Now, as promised, here is our simple sequence to get you started out right with SUP yoga.
Sun Salutation Sequence
In Hindu, Sun Salutation is called Surya Namaskar which means “to adore the sun.” The purpose of this type of yoga is to honor the sun, and bring its power into your body. It is often used as a beginner or a warm-up workout, which makes it ideal for those starting out with SUP yoga.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
The mountain pose is used in almost all styles of yoga as a centering and transitional pose.
- Begin by standing with your feet together and your weight evenly distributed between the heels and toes.
- Arms should be relaxed at your side with palms facing forward.
- Keep your chin level while keeping your neck stretched upward and your shoulder blades stretching back as if to touch one another.
- Keep a slight bend in your knees, and relax all muscles in your face.
Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
A variation of this pose from traditional, is using your paddle to increase balance. Hint: if you cannot see your toes while in this position, you will need to sit back more.
- Transition from the mountain pose by bending your knees and sinking your hips as if you are sitting in a chair — interestingly enough.
- Hold your paddle in both hands straight out in front of you and parallel to the water. Slowly raise your arms upward.
- Relax your shoulders and look upward.
- Hold the position for at least 3 deep breaths.
Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
- Lower yourself onto the board so that you are sitting with your legs straight out in front of you.
- Pull your groin back in to your pelvis.
- Lean forward from your hips rather than your waist, and reach your hands out to rest on your feet, legs or beyond.
- Lengthen your torso upon each deep breath.
- Begin this pose by taking a step forward with one leg bending at the knee so that it is at a 90° angle to the ankle.
- Your back leg should be straight, or you can rest your back knee on your board.
- Hands can be at your side, interlaced upon your forward knee or raised up.
- Elongate your spine as much as you’re comfortable, and do not lean forward.
Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
The downward-facing dog might just be the most well-known yoga pose. It also has loads of variations to keep it fresh and new. For example, simply lift one back leg off your board, and you’ve got the 3-legged downward-facing dog going on.
- Start out in a table pose, or down on all fours.
- Slowly, lift your knees from the board while straightening your legs.
- Push your heels into the board and relax your neck so that it is in a straight line with your spine.
- Hold the pose while taking deep breaths.
Plank Pose (Phalankasana)
- From the downward-facing dog, pull your body forward until your shoulders are right over your wrists.
- Tuck in your chin while keeping your spine and neck in a straight line.
- Spread your feet to hip width, and pull your belly button up toward your spine while reaching back through your heels.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
- Lower yourself onto your stomach from the plank pose, and put your palms directly under your shoulders.
- Pull your chest forward and upward while keeping your elbows close to your body.
- Look up slightly and lengthen your arms to your spine’s comfort level.
At this point, you are half-way finished with the Sun Salutation sequence. Here is when you will begin to cycle back through the asanas you just did. From the cobra pose, go back into the plank pose. Then go back into downward-facing dog pose and so on until you are back at the mountain pose. This will complete your Sun Salutation sequence.
Finding Your Balance
This easy sequence should be a great place to start for SUP yoga. Begin by practicing on your mat as a dry run before facing the water. Not only will you easily transition to this sequence while on your board, but you will be able to better focus on achieving your inner balance and peace. Practicing beforehand could also be especially beneficial if you have any apprehensions about toppling off your board. Now, get out there and get your yoga float on!
Be sure to also read our article on the best SUP yoga boards.