If doing yoga on your mat is getting a bit bland, it’s time to take to the water. Yes, you read that right. It’s called stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga, and it’s the perfect warm-weather trend to heat up your workout. Instead of sun salutations on stable ground, SUP yoga is carried out atop a cushioned board similar in size to a large surfboard. And in place of a studio with a solid surface, open water and nature set a beautiful scene for participants to practice their poses.
Even if you’ve never done yoga on land, or single oar rowed across a waterway standing upon a board, you should try SUP yoga. Newbies and veterans alike will find benefits to this cool hybrid class. Here are just a few:
Technique: The water is naturally an unsteady platform, which is actually better for making sure your body is in proper alignment. In a hard-floored classroom, it can be easy to tweak your body in ways that are incorrect. For example, during a downward dog on your mat, you can favor one wrist over another, and thus hold your weight improperly. However, if you try to get away with this on your board, you’ll end up all wet. The water creates the perfect learning environment for finding true balance in your body, and carrying out poses in the way they were intended.
Motivation: Studio classes surrounded by nothing by mirrors and other people can make it easy for your mind to wander. Instead of focusing on your breath, you’re wrapped up in comparing yourself to the yogi in the front row doing an arm balance you can only dream of, or in thinking about the argument you had earlier in the day with a co-worker. With SUP yoga, the water offers a bit more motivation to stay focused on staying dry. There is a touch of adrenaline that comes from wanting to remain on your board instead of taking a brief dip in the drink. That motivation and adrenaline translates into a staying connected with your body and breath in ways that can be difficult to achieve on land.
[adrotate banner=”26″]Calm: Nature tends to lead to tranquility, and with SUP yoga that is no different. Even if you are doing yoga with 20 other participants in the class, your senses are drenched in all that the water, horizon, and surrounding environment have to offer. Beautiful trees to look at, warm sunshine on your skin, the smell of flowers in bloom, and the sound of the water rippling by all create the calm that so many tend to associate with achieving in yoga, but find more difficulty doing so than they expect.
Challenge: If you’ve been doing yoga for years and feel like as though you’ve hit a plateau with your poses, SUP yoga might be just what you need to take your practice to the next level. On land, you may not be engaging your core enough to reach advanced skills, but on the water, your practice relies on those muscles to keep you upright and stable. And with less room for error on the board, you’re likely to find that tweaking your pose in the smallest of ways may be just what’s been holding you back.
There are lots of benefits of to SUP yoga, but maybe the only one you really need is that it’s so much fun. Sure you might fall off your board, but even that too can be advantageous. After all, we all fall down at times. You better yourself when you get back up and get back on the horse–or in this case, the board.
Have your tried SUP yoga? Tell others all about your experience in the comments!