Everything You Need to Know About SUP Yoga

Challenge yourself with yoga on a paddleboard. 

By Alli Hill

Everything You Need to Know About SUP Yoga

There's nothing like finding your inner Zen in the middle of the water. Stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga has taken over communities from California to New Hampshire, giving you a chance to hone your balance and focus in a way you won't find doing yoga on land. 

Here’s what you need to know to get started in this new fitness trend. 

Health Benefits of SUP Yoga

SUP yoga uses similar fundamentals as yoga but it’s not quite the same. It requires a different level of focus and balance and engages muscles that are often neglected on stable ground. 

It’s also a great way to develop mindfulness, as losing your concentration might land you in the water. The boards are wobbly, so practicing yoga on them forces you to get intentional with your movements. 

The health benefits are similar to that of traditional yoga, including muscle toning, stress release, increased flexibility and coordination, and strength training. Each session is considered a workout, and you’ll definitely be feeling it the next day.

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What You’ll Need

Before you start, make sure you know just what kind of gear you'll need to successfully practice SUP yoga. It can be a bit of an investment at the start but having good quality gear is essential. If you're not quite ready to fully commit to the sport, classes often provide the gear needed as part of the cost. Here are the things you'll need.  

There are paddleboards that are specifically made for yoga, but any wide, flat paddleboard will work. It’s helpful to find one with comfortable squishy padding as you will be spending time doing poses on your hands and knees. 

Paddles may be sold together or separately from the board. Choose a paddle that’s properly sized for your height.

Most boards don’t include a leash, but it’s good to have one. The leash tethers you to the board so in case you fall off, your board won’t drift away without you.

Lifejacket or flotation device
Safety first! Make sure you have some form of flotation device. Lifejackets might make it too hard to do yoga poses, so find one that’s low profile and easy to maneuver in.

If you like the idea of keeping your board in one place while you do yoga, get an anchor. A simple fishing anchor that attaches to the same place as your leash will do.

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Tips & Tricks for Getting Started

If you’re new to SUP yoga or it’s been awhile since your last session, put the following tips into practice and get the most from your experience.

Get comfortable with your board
Paddleboards have a learning curve, even when you’re not trying to strike a Warrior pose. Conquer those beginner jitters with some test paddleboarding and get comfortable with the basics before you add any additional movements. Standing on your board and paddling around a bit will get you familiarized with the feeling. 

Find a calm spot
Small ripples can feel like tidal waves when you’re on a paddleboard. Try to find quiet, calm waters that won’t make you shaky on your board.

Move slowly
If you’re brand new to paddleboarding, take it slow. Don’t be in a hurry to complete the vinyasa. Take time to enjoy it and soak in all your newfound paddleboard skills.

Keep a wide stance
Keeping your feet shoulder- or hip-distance apart gives you better balance on the board. It can also help to stabilize your body if waters get a little rough. 

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Where to Find SUP Yoga Near You

SUP yoga has edged into every major city in the U.S. by now, or at least close to it. Coastal and lake cities are prime opportunities for SUP sports and classes, along with towns that have indoor pools in their community centers. And if you can’t find a class or company that offers it, rent your own SUP and try your hand at a few basic poses. 

Search online to find a class near you and say Namaste to a new adventure!

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