How a Single Paddle Board Can Be Your Own Yoga Studio
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Stand Up Paddle Boarding is one of the fastest growing water sports to come out of the millennia, but did you know that paddle boards can be used for yoga as well? It is a bit of an odd combo when you first hear about it but they are actually a perfect match!
Anytime you are on the water, whether it is a kayak, canoe, paddle board, surfboard or even a floatie, there is a sense of relaxation and tranquility that surrounds you. This sense of calmness comes from the gently rocking waves and the fact that you are surrounded by nature and its calming elements.
So, why SUP Yoga?
Photo by: Standupjournal.com
SUP Yoga has a wide array of benefits to the body and mind including increased strength, stability, mental focus and a sense of calming. So why not try it out and see if it’s for you? Putting aside the fact that being on the water and out in nature is relaxing by itself, there are other benefits to SUP Yoga:
1. It is relatively easy to move your board from one desired location to the other, simply just paddle!
2. SUP Yoga engages your core by developing those muscles to help aid with stability. The balance that you learn on your paddle board will translate into the yoga studio and allow you to accelerate your progress!
3. SUP Yoga goes at your pace. Meaning that your comfort on the paddle board will determine the difficulty of the poses you can attempt.
4. It Increases your awareness and balance. You will be more mindful to do the poses correctly. If you rush through them, you may go into the drink! And that may not be a bad thing either if it is a hot day. That’s an extra bonus!
How do I get into SUP Yoga?
Well, for one, it is best to start off by trying a paddle board. Similar to the “Rome was not built in a day” philosophy, you will not become a SUP Yoga master unless you get a feel for actually being on a board! You can do this by simply renting an all-around paddle board to try it out. Be sure to first do it on a relatively calm day – a first timer plus wavy conditions usually add up to a visit into the drink! Once you’re ready, you can go out and buy a board or simply try taking SUP Yoga classes to perfect your skill with a knowledgeable instructor.
If you decide to buy your own paddle board, there are a few factors you have to think about:
Hard Board or Inflatable Paddle Board?
Photos by Amazon.com
When purchasing a board, most people gawk when they hear the word “inflatable”. The first thing that comes to mind is a child’s pool toy or cheap inflatable lounger, but this is simply not the case. I own an inflatable touring board and that thing can take a pounding against the rocks! In fact, inflatable paddle boards have really taken off over the past 5 years both in popularity and quality. Many inflatable paddle boards are now 6” thick and feature some form of drop stitch construction that allows the board to always keep its form.
Inflatable Paddle Boards:
- Durable, well-made and can last a long time; they’re forgiving to bumps and bashes.
- Are storage friendly, many of them fold into the size of a large backpack or a medium-sized suitcase.
- Easy to transport.
- Keep you high and dry.
Hard Paddle Boards:
- Require some sort of roof rack or van/ truck to transport.
- Quicker on the water.
- Smoother paddling.
- Does not get pushed around as much in windier conditions.
- Can be more fragile depending on the quality of the board you get
It is also important that you get the size of your board right. The last thing that you want to do is buy a board that is too small for you and deal with problems in stability. When looking into getting a board, it is best to look at the boards maximum capacity to make sure you are under the weight limit.
Want your board specifically for yoga? Some boards I recommend for SUP Yoga can be found here.
5 SUP Yoga poses you can start off with on your board
As you can imagine, performing a yoga pose is completely different on the ground than on water. Something as simple as Savasana can be a completely different experience when you do SUP Yoga. To get a grasp on how it feels, start with these yoga poses:
Photo by: Bethestamagazine.com
Probably the easiest pose you can do on your board. Simply lie down on your back in a “Star Fish” position and gently let your hands hang off the paddle board. The state of closing your eyes and letting the sunshine onto you while allowing your fingers to gently touch the water is as relaxing and calming as it can get!
Photo by: Chiblog.com
This pose has many benefits including being great for your digestive system, stretches your lower back, opens up your hips and relaxes your muscles. Simply kneel in the middle of the grip pad on the board, exhale and lay your torso between your thighs and rest your forehead on the floor. Next, rest your palms and forearms on the board and deeply inhale and release.
Downward Facing Dog
Photo by: Surfertoday.com
Downward Dog can be way more challenging on a board. Go onto the board on your hands and knees, set your knees below your hips and your hands just above your shoulders. Straighten your knees and draw your thighs back, lift your hips high and engage your quadriceps. Make sure your heels are down onto the board!
Photo by: Lakeeriepaddler.com
Start off in Downward Facing Dog before doing the Plank Pose. Position your arms inwards, and lay your palms flat on the board. Move forward and allow your body to be parallel to the board, place your shoulders back, engage your lower belly and hold it anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute.
Photo by: justbewellyoga.com
Once you are stable on your board, place one foot in front of the other and bend the knee of your back leg while firmly planting your front foot on the paddle board. Keep your back straight and keep your hands raised in the air.
Want to try SUP Yoga? Start with the basics and have a spectacular view on a retreat in The Americas and the Caribbean!