SUP Yoga isn’t just a trendy class to take on vacation.
Here we’ll divulge how and why SUP yoga is enlightening, fun and great for everyone, even paddleboarding beginners.
Why SUP Yoga Should Be Your Next Hobby
For those who don’t know, SUP Yoga is the act of practicing Yoga on a stand-up paddleboard, in any body of water from salty to concrete. Once seen as a fad vacation activity or yoga-tribe exclusive, SUP Yoga has been increasingly popular over the last half dozen years, and we here’s why.
This practice takes the act of practicing yoga on land and increases the challenge. Not only is it fun to test your yoga practice out in the open water, but it’s good for you in many other ways as well. In this article we will explain what the hype is all about, why it’s great for you, and where to get started.
What is SUP Yoga?
As previously mentioned, SUP yoga is taking your yoga practice and doing it on a stand-up paddleboard on the water, ideally somewhere warm and shallow, but not always. Not only is SUP yoga popular with yogis — but with anyone who enjoys paddle boarding.
If you’re a person who is neither of those things, we still encourage you to give it a try! Even someone who is super comfortable on a SUP may struggle in their first SUP Yoga class. SUP Yoga typically takes place in still bodies of water like lakes, bays, harbors, and even pools. It is a great practice for any experienced yogi to check their ego. Even great yogis may find themselves losing balance and making a splash. Additionally, SUp yoga can help you to strengthen beyond your average yoga class.
Why is SUP Yoga so Great?
Yoga is typically looked to as an exercise that strengthens and incorporates meditation. It helps us exercise our bodies and calm our minds. It only makes sense that surrounding yourself with water would make yoga even better. Adding an increased balance challenge to your yoga practice makes your balance significantly better on land. It also improves your breathing techniques and your ability to control nervous system responses to panic.
When doing yoga on a paddle board you might experience the sensation that you are going to fall. Controlling your breath and muscles in these moments helps you to manage your body’s nervous response. SUP Yoga is also great for relaxation. The sound of the water, plus meditation, and beautiful outdoor views clear your mind and relieve stress. And I mean really it’s 2020 who doesn’t need a little stress relief?
Getting Started with SUP Yoga
If you aren’t yet familiar with paddle boarding or yoga we have some helpful tips to help you get comfortable before giving a SUP Yoga class your first go. In order to improve your own comfort level in your first class we definitely recommend getting some practice in beforehand. If you’ve never been paddle boarding, definitely get out there and get used to the feeling of a SUP.
We recommend renting yourself a paddle board and heading to your nearest, stillest body of water and practicing a few classic yoga poses. Down-dog, Up-dog, Chair pose, Triangle pose, Mountain pose, Warrior One and Warrior Two, are the best poses to start out with. Each of these poses are pillars of most Yoga practices.
If you can manage these poses you’re plenty ready for your first class. Once you’ve got yourself feeling prepared to try out your first class and enjoy this incredible practice, you’ve just got to sort out where to go!
Where to Find SUP Yoga Classes
There are some resources to help you find SUP Yoga Classes in your area. Strangely enough Yelp can be of great help finding SUP Yoga classes in your area! We know that Yelp can occasionally be a free for all for internet trolls spouting negativity. However, reviews can be helpful, and it’s a great way to browse your options of classes to check out, wherever you are. There are also a few SUP Yoga specific sites that can help you find great places to start.
Check out http://www.stokedyogi.com/sup-yoga-locator/, and https://www.paddleintofitness.com/find-a-class/ . We found all of these resources helpful in finding great SUP Yoga classes in a variety of areas.
SUP Yoga for Therapy
Serene Sullivan began exploring Therapeutic Aquatic Experiential Education as a path toward mental health enrichment. Her ecotherapy approach involves taking clients deep into Florida’s Bahia Honda State Park atop stand-up paddleboards for an adventurous and restorative yoga experience.
Sullivan once worked in clinical psychology, doggedly pursuing answers for many of these major mental health hardships that impact such a large percentage of the general population. Only after she ultimately left conventional practice, however, did she begin to make the progress that she had been looking for all along.
Anxiety, depression, insomnia, low self-esteem, PTSD, eating disorders, learning disabilities…If any number of these conditions hits home, you’re among friends. Nearly 20 percent of Americans suffer from some form of mental illness, and frequently struggle with difficulties that are too subjective for generalized solutions.
Yoga on its own often leads to incredible progress in the name of mental health, stress relief, and mind-body connection. Performing the postures on a paddleboard then takes the practice to the next level, not only physically — thanks to the additional challenges to balance and strength — but also emotionally and therapeutically.
“Paddleboard Yoga has definitely become more of a fad,” Serene acknowledges, “but my angle has always been that it’s therapeutic. It’s the perfect platform for meditation.” She believes that her practice has helped clients find more improvement than she could ever help them reach before, in large part because her new practice demands something that can be tough to foster within four white walls: trust.
“I’m not just taking them right off shore, I’m taking them into the deep aquatic woods,” Serene clarifies. “Trust is necessary to follow me through this tunnel, under these trees that are covered in spiders, next to snakes…You have to be courageous. Curiosity kills your fear. It takes trust in me, but even more in yourself.”
With Paddleboard Yoga, Serene has been able to separate her clients from their inner struggles and show them an environment that is “bigger than their problems.” But the trust doesn’t come from simply being outside in unfamiliar territory — water as a backdrop for the practice makes a unique impact as well.
“The water makes you quiet, which is the state of mind that we need to make changes and release trauma,” she says. “It also forces you to use every muscle in your body as well as the neurons in your brain; not just the ones engaged with thinking, but also with feeling. By doing something that engages all facets of your body and mind like this, it changes your perspective and it’s easier to forget our concerns.” Alongside this mindset, Serene can more productively guide her clients toward healing while leaving distractions and detractors back on the shore.
Product Sidebar: The Best SUP’s for Yoga
If you’re the type to gear up for your hobbies, you’ll want to be sure you purchase the best possible SUP. Here are a few of the SUP brands that we recommend both for general recreation and for SUP Yoga.
SOL Paddle Boards makes a specific line of boards made specifically for all your on water Yoga. They are a truly badass family brand, based out of Telluride, Colorado. They offer top quality and great selection. SOL is our top pick for your Yoga SUP purchase whether for SUP Yoga or any other paddle boarding needs.
Check out SOL Paddle Boards Incredible Yoga Inflatable Collection Here
Also available on Amazon
We’re also big fans of Hala brand. These, like SOL, are incredibly high end boards all made for Yoga, and from a highly trusted company. Hala has a fantastic line of Yoga SUPs. We love this brand and these boards.
Check out of the Hala Boards Yoga Collection Here
Level Six has long been known for making top quality river gear and their SUP’s are no exception.
Check out the Level Six inflatables here.
If you’re looking for something at a slightly lower price point there are still some great options! Gili sports also makes a great line of beloved and trusted SUPs. If you are just getting started we think these should be at the top of your list!
Check out Gili Sports Yoga Paddle Boards Here
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