The Complete SUP Yoga Guide
Paddleboard yoga can be intimidating if you’ve never tried it. But beginners can definitely have a lot of fun and get a great workout doing standup paddle board (SUP) yoga. If you can balance on one foot, you can do SUP yoga. There are a bunch of beginner moves to get you started and comfortable with this new fun form of yoga.
This can be a unique way to get out on the water and enjoy yoga in a totally different setting.
There are a few things to know before getting started. Follow these three general guidelines to help keep you stable and out of the water.
Move at about half the speed you would doing yoga on land. Take it as slow as you can so you’re aware of your movements the entire time.
Watch your mat
The paddleboard’s handle (inset at the top of the board) is the board’s center of balance. Try and keep your movements centered around the handle while you do SUP yoga.
Focus on the horizon Losing balance and falling typically comes from shifting your gaze very fast. During yoga poses, keep your eyes fixated on a point on land for some more stability.
Now For The Yoga Moves!
Simple Seated Pose
Face the front of the SUP and sit with your hips on the handle of the board. Let your hands rest on your knees. Sit up tall and take deep breaths from your abdominals. Feel the slow rocking of the water under you. This is a great move to help find your center.
Start with your body in tabletop pose (on your hands and knees with your back flat like a table) and position your belly button over the SUP board’s handle. Widen your knees out and let your big toes touch. Sink your hips back to touch your heels and rest your forehead down on the board. Pull your arms out in front of you. You can pull arms forward to extend the stretch or go down on your sides or even trail in the water.
Start in tabletop pose again and slowly send hips up and back while straightening your legs. Look between your legs at the horizon behind you. Take this one really show. A lot of times in regular yoga the transition to downward facing dog is quick. On the water, take it much, much slower. Once you get your body in the right spot, take a couple of breaths and get comfortable in the pose. Press into the index finger and thumb to prevent wrist strain.
From downward dog, shift forward and align your shoulders above your wrists. Create a long line from the crown of your head to your heels. Activate the lower core and add some movement in by lifting one leg at a time. If you need a break, drop your knees. You can also shift into an elbow plank with your legs still out straight for a modification.
Cobra or Upward-Facing Dog
For the cobra pose, lie down on your bellyband place your hands at your sides. Lay your palms down and inhale lifting your head, shoulders and chest. You’ll feel this stretch in your core the most.
For Upward-Facing Dog, start the same way but place your hands further back, next to your ribs. Lift your torso and if you can, pull your quads off the board as well.
Low Lunge Variations
Start in tabletop or downward dog with your hips over the handle. Bring your right foot forward and let your hands frame your foot.
Look to the land for balance and walk your hands onto the knee or thigh for stability. From there, you can explore arm variations like reaching both arms to the sky or adding in a twist. Try planting your left palm on the board and lift your right arm to the sky. Do the same on the other side for a complete set.
Wide Leg Standing Forward Fold
From the low lunge, put your hands inside your front knee and walk over to the side of the board. Apply even pressure with your hands and shift onto the balls of both feet then lower the heels down. Your hands and feet should be the same distance apart, the same as you would in this pose on land. Put your hands beneath the shoulder, widen the legs and turn the toes slightly in. You’ll feel this stretch up the legs all throughout.
Modified or Half Camel
Kneel down around the handle of the board and support your lower back with the hands before going into camel pose. This move can be more challenging than most on water. So start with your toes tucked or for something gentler start with a kneeling backbend with one hand behind you and lift your hips, sweeping the opposite arm overhead. You can do this move on both sides of the body too.
This can be a very relaxing pose on the water, as your head will be near the water and you can hear the gentle waves. Start in a plank and pull one leg forward and lower down onto it slowly. Align your groin over the handle of the board. drape your upper body down and let your arms go out in front. Let this pose relax you and listen to the waves beneath you.
For this pose, start laying down on your back with your lower back over the handle. Place the soles of your feet flat on the board and shift your bottom half up into the air. Let your arms lay long on their side. Keep your feet hip distance apart. For more challenge use your back to lift higher or try lifting one leg at a time.
This is a great pose to end your water yoga session. While it may look easy, it’s one of the most challenging to master. It’s a perfect balance of being perfectly relaxed but perfectly in tune. Lay on your back with your palms open to receive energy. Relax in this pose and enjoy the gentle rocking of the water and feeling the sun upon you.
SUP yoga can seem very daunting from the outside, but once you get warmed up to it, you will likely find how enjoyable it is. In such a unique setting, it’s bound to be an experience that you’ll seek out time and time again. You may be scared of falling into the water, which is a possibility, so you’ll likely want to practice in a swimsuit and leave any valuables on the shore. Taking the moves very slow can prevent you from falling in and keep your balance strong.
SUP yoga can be an excellent way to spend time in nature or surrounding you might not otherwise enjoy. Lots of stand up paddleboarding rental services bring in yoga teachers to offer classes on the water. If you have your own standup paddleboard (or SUP), you can easily spend some time doing yoga on your own as well. It’s a great way to work on your balance and overall strength.
Try a few simple yoga poses at first and get used to the feelings and the waves. It can take some getting used to but take it slow, you can certainly get better with practice. Give paddle board yoga a try with these beginner poses and see where it takes you!
You can find some amazing SUP yoga teachers and yoga classes in San Diego, Atlanta GA, and also in Yoga Journal.
SUP Yoga Boards
If you want to know where you can find a great yoga board, be sure to check out our article on the 5 best yoga boards here. For all other SUP boards reviews, be sure to browse through our blog.