There are so many incredible benefits to yoga practice on a mat, in a studio or in the privacy of your own home. Have you ever imagined that these benefits can be increased if practiced on the water? The yogi’s who practice SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) Yoga certainly think so…
What is Stand-up Paddleboarding?
Stand-up paddleboarding first began in Hawaii in the late 1960’s, but did not hit the mainland until around ten years ago. Paddleboarding involves standing up on a board similar to a surfboard, and paddling yourself around. It can give you a sense of basically walking on water. No one particularly knows who had the ingenious idea of incorporating yoga and a paddle board. However the shapes and sizes of a yoga mat and a paddleboard are pretty similar, and the balance (once you get the hang of it) is quite easy to achieve, and so SUP yoga was invented.
What is SUP Yoga?
Take a moment to envision yourself on a beautiful summer day, the heat of the sun warming your face. You are surrounded by a glistening, pristine blue blanket of peaceful oblivion, and are practicing savasana while your fingertips trace the cool water with the waves gently lapping at your paddleboard. This is SUP yoga. Poses (quite literally everything from child’s pose to inverted) are practiced very carefully in perfect motion, and harmony with the water surrounding you. Your mind and body must be perfectly and flawlessly balanced, anything less and you will find yourself in the water.
Avid SUP yoga practitioners claim that this is exactly what has changed yogic practice for the better for them. Lindy, who is presently in training to become a yoga teacher, and would like to teach SUP yoga specifically, is one of those people:
“SUP literally changed my entire outlook on what yoga practice could be, and just wasn’t for me anymore. I found myself heading to class and actually getting a little bored and discouraged at times. I bounced from class to class, and found the same mundane atmosphere. I was ready to give up practice all together and try something new, dance or something, when a friend of mine told me about a SUP yoga class she attended, while I was visiting in Seattle last summer. We went together and I was astounded at how much more I had to become involved and tuned into my body, and breathing. The next day I found a soreness in my muscles that I hadn’t experienced since I initially started practicing yoga about 7 years ago. It was different, it was remarkable, and I was hooked.”
While there are some pretty wonderful advantages to practicing yoga in such an unbeatable environment, about 100 yards from the shoreline in chosen bodies of water, many who have tried it insist that there are some drawbacks as well. Some people find the effort to stay balanced on the board can take all their concentration, making it hard to focus on the poses. But just like trying anything new, focus and ease come with time and practice.
Try Something Different
While SUP yoga may not be for everyone, it is most definitely something to consider, and experience. It isn’t meant to completely replace your more traditional style of practicing yoga, but it can be a wonderful way to mix things up and experience something new. Just as outdoor yoga in a park or forest provides the unique experience of literally becoming one with nature on both a physical and spiritual sense, SUP provides the very same experience only surrounded by the calmness of water. Being so far out from the land with nothing but your yoga allies and the peaceful quietness of the ocean, you are able to find something new in terms of yoga practice, and also perhaps discover more about yourself and your abilities as a human being, and also as a devout practitioner of yoga.