As Spring starts to roll around again and we start to shed our winter layers and cities for the beach and waterways it’s time to set the record straight on what ‘SUP Yoga’ is and why you should try it this summer.
Firstly, SUP which stands for Standup Paddleboarding (or Standup Paddleboard depending on what you’re referencing) is a water sport that hails from Hawaii and has become hugely popular across the world due to the ease in which someone can pick up the skills.
Standup paddleboarding is similar to surfing but predominantly practiced in flat waters or protected bays, unless you are game enough to surf one in the waves. It requires you to stand on a board, that is a similar shape to a surfboard but of which is much larger (in width and depth typically). The joy of the SUP board is that depending on the size in which you choose to use you don’t need any particular turning or balancing skills, all you need to know is the tricks and tips on the best places to stand, how to use your paddle properly and efficiently and where to look when you’re paddling along.
The benefits of SUP’ing are increased balance (particularly on the water), strengthening the core muscles, and the rest of your body (you’re using your legs to stay balanced and strong, arms to paddle and core to stay upright) and is great for increasing fitness and even weight loss – combine this with some yoga on water and the benefits increase substantially.
SUP Yoga is the newest summer sport trend and depending on the conditions and the location no experience of either SUP or Yoga is necessary to try it, only a willingness to try and the ability to swim.
A SUP Yoga class typically starts with a short warm up paddle, often to the spot that you will be practicing yoga at and some instruction on how to use the equipment. This warm up then moves into a more yoga focussed class with seated breathing techniques, basic sun salutations and a bit of fun in practicing some harder variations of postures on the water.
Classes usually run from 1 hour to 1.5 hours and incorporate some of your normal ‘fitness’ moves such as lunges, high planks, abdominal exercises as well as downward facing dogs, warrior postures and more. There is no set structure to the yoga portion of the class as it really depends on who is there on the day and the weather conditions and may include a bit of extra paddling between postures to stay in position.
Just like a yoga class on land your teacher will modify all of the postures so that you get to experience the feeling of practicing yoga on water – so there is no need to be flexible to begin with.
To add to the range of benefits you get from SUP’ing, SUP Yoga also increases your cardiovascular health, helps to increase circulation within the body (via the stretching and lengthening movements and breathing) and will increase the balance and strengthening benefits of a normal SUP session 10-fold. In addition to this you get to have a little fun, perhaps get a little bit wet and learn to have a laugh at yourself when you get the wobbles.
Key Benefits of SUP Yoga (in a nutshell):
- Increases strength
- Decreases stress (fresh air, deep breathing, beautiful location, earthing)
- Increases flexibility (none required to start)
- Decreases risk of cardiovascular disease and increases circulation through the body
- Increases balance
- It’s fun!
For more information on SUP Yoga classes and retreats that I’m holding in Noosa Heads and Croatia (2016) CLICK HERE.