Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga – What’s It All About

Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga – What’s It All About

Girl doing Backbend on Paddle BoardAs paddle boarding continues to grow as a water sport be it for general recreation, exercise or simply reconnecting with nature, it’s becoming more and more evident that getting out on a board isn’t just for us paddlers.

Over more recent years, paddle board yoga has also continued to grow in popularity. With inclusive group classes, focused board exercises and SUPs specifically designed for yoga, it’s growth in popularity and benefits certainly speak for themselves. Whether your a proficient yoga regular or very much the novice first timer, incorporating stretching into your daily routine be it on or off the board has benefits for us all and shouldn’t be underestimated.

To help us make the most of our experience, lets look at some of the fundamentals:

Newbies (Beginners) to SUP Yoga

Like anything new, baby steps make the most sense so make sure you focus on the basics.

Hydration – have something small to eat and take on plenty of water before you take to the water. Virtually all boards will Cold Bottle of H2Ohave bungee systems or D-rings where you can attach a water bottle so remaining hydrated as with most activities is always important.

Clothing and Sun Protection – take a look at the weather conditions before you jump on board. It doesn’t take long to get sun burnt even in overcast conditions so make sure you apply the sunscreen and wear a hat and sunglasses if possible. You’re on the water so might well get wet. Wearing waterproof clothes, yoga tights, or something that is non-chaffing makes the most sense. Wearing your bikini might sound great but when you think about some of the more adventurous positions, it’s probably best to cover up and protect yourself.

Breathe – easy to say of course but if your new to yoga and particularity the floating version, then it’s really important that you try to relax and not hold your breath. Whether your scared of falling in or worried about maintaining your balance, try to relax and breathe normally. As you start to relax and engage your core muscles, your balance and stability will eventually come. Breathe and you’ll get there.

Safety First – whenever your paddle boarding or surfing, wearing your ankle leash is a must. Connected to your ankle and the rear of the board through a D-ring or one of the grab handles, the leash ensures that both you and your board do not get separated. This plays a greater importance if you are not a strong swimmer or are in windy or rough water conditions. Having an emergency whistle and a safety jacket (personal flotation device) is also advisable and in some territories is compulsory.

Your Mobile Phone – unless you’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 Co. or have an otherwise really pressing concern, try to disconnect yourself. There will be plenty of time to strike a pose so do your best to stay off the phone and get in the yoga zone.

Ladies in Standup Pose on Paddle BoardPractice on Land – if you’re really new to yoga, get a feel for the poses and positions onshore. Once you’ve got the basics then try them on your board on the sand if possible and then take to the water. It’s much easier to get the yoga fundamentals locked away before you hit the water.

Board Stability – finding your centre isn’t new to the regular yoga folk but it takes on a different dimension again when it comes to SUPing. Finding the centre of your board will help you maintain your stability and balance as you try to work through your different yoga positions.

Accessories – there are accessories that you might find handy which include a portable board anchor as well as drink bottle holders. Certainly worth considering in windy or choppy water conditions or if you are planning on staying out on the water for a period of time.

Location – find a sheltered low water traffic location to settle in. Rough water and windy conditions will make for a very difficult and unenjoyable experience. By all means make the most of a scenic outdoor environment but choosing a sheltered one makes the most sense.

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Benefits of SUP Yoga

SUPing in general offers many benefits be it for general board paddling or more specially enjoying your floating yoga experience. Benefits include:

Full Body Workout – paddle boarding brings together many of your muscle groups from the upper body through to your core, abdominal and lower body as you look to maintain your balance. It’s one of the best sports for an overall body workout that helps increase muscle grow and stamina / endurance at the same time.

Improves Balance – it goes without saying that trying to stand on a floating object must take a degree of skill and balance. Two People Posing on BoardWhilst you will definitely be doing your fair share of swimming, the greater the time you spend on your board the greater your balance will become. Having better balance is good for your overall well-being as it will help prevent injuries as well as bettering your skills in your other sporting activities.

Reduces Stress / Improves Mood – the benefits of attaching yourself to the ocean or our waterways in general is a natural way of taking a deep breath and relaxing. The psychological benefits in terms of releasing endorphins (a naturally occurring chemical within the brain that helps reduce pain or act as a stimulant) are well proven via an increase in physical activity. The social aspects and serenity of the water can help lift your mood as well as decreasing feelings of depression.

Injury Rehabilitation – given it’s low impact nature, paddle boarding offers a number of benefits in improving your endurance whilst at the same time gently increasing your strength and muscle and joint growth and stability with minimal impact. Water sports are typically a better way to come back from injury as opposed to other more impactful or explosive sports.

Connect with Nature – akin to the benefits of stress relief, being out on the water is calming and provides a great way to experience nature from the water. Getting out in the sun albeit ensuring that you use sun protection is also a good way to take in some extra vitamin D.

Lady doing Backbend on Paddle Board_2Light over Dark – the contrast between a quite dimly lit yoga studio and the open surroundings in what has been described as a ‘sensory adventure with mewing seagulls, the ocean breeze and the scent of salt water’ would no doubt be seen by most as a genuine advantage when comparing paddle board v traditional yoga.

It’s All in the Little Things – given that you are on a floating object, there is a need to maintain a greater level of mental focus and concentration on keeping the core muscles constantly engaged to assist with board balance. Maintaining your gaze on a fixed point and constantly adjusting, tweaking and making mini-movements in your posture all add to the challenge and the reward. Feeling the movement of the board and allowing your body to respond adds yet again another dimension to your yoga experience.

Taking a Swim – perhaps the only real downside if you can call it that is going for a dip if you lose focus and take a spill. Unless your overly clothed and in cold water conditions, I’m sure it’s a ‘risk’ that most of us can live with.

<< Feeling even more adventurous, why not try Stand Up Paddle Board Surfing >>

Specialised Yoga Boards

In essence, a SUP Yoga board is based around a traditional flat water all purpose board that has a focus on stability in the main although it has some small modifications. Unless you are planning on focusing more of your efforts on your yoga, then buying an all round board that offers good stability might well suit your needs as well as allowing for more general use for when your not specifically striking a pose.

Some of the more notable differences for boards specifically designed for yoga include:

Dimensions – SUPs typically range from 5-7 inches in thickness with inflatable SUPs thicker than hard boards. A thinner board (5 inch) will better suit yoga as it sits lower in the water and will create a more stable platform. Thinner boards are also easier to climb back on to for those occasions when you do fall into the water. The boards length and width doesn’t have a great impact except for allowing a greater surface area to work from. For larger folk, a longer and wider board would make more sense given their need for more space.

Fins – whilst your board is stationary as will be the case when you are actually doing your yoga, the fin setup will have no real impact on your board. Depending on the expense that you are prepared to go to, a typical 3-fin setup will be more than Head Stand on Boardsufficient. Whilst fixed fins are fine, if you want to get more versatility out of your board then removable and/or configurable fin systems will allow you to adapt your board for different paddling styles and usage.

Side Handles – moving the carry handle away from the centre of the board to it’s sides allows you to occupy the centre of the board to create a flatter surface to work on. It will however not be as easy to carry as compared to a board with a centre handle so you may also consider a board that has a relatively flat central handle so it does not interfere with your yoga positions / poses.

Deck Padding – the focus here should be to allow for enough surface area to work from. Typically, two-thirds of the boards surface should be sufficient noting that there will be grab handles and D-rings on the side and rear of the board as well as a bungee system at the front. The padding should offer sufficient cushioning but not have deep grooves as it will create a less comfortable surface that will leave impressions on your skin.

Beyond the specialised tweaks that yoga boards have, inflatable boards or iSUPs are normally a better choice for yoga as they offer a softer surface with more rounded edges when compared to a hard board. They are also consistent in their Seated Pose on Paddle Boardheight across the full length of the board as hard boards taper away on the edges and ends of the board so are less stable.

Final Thoughts

Whilst it’s been around for some time now, SUP yoga has and will continue to grow in popularity. The benefits of stretching and developing core strength and flexibility coupled with an ability to connect with the surrounding environment in a soothing and calming manner all help make your yoga experience far more enjoyable and rewarding.

You certainly don’t have to go out and spend up on specialised equipment, but if your adventurous and willing to try something new then I’d highly recommend giving SUP yoga a try.

As always we would love to hear from you and get your thoughts so please feel free to leave your comments below and we will get back to you.

Until then, stay safe and get wet.

16 thoughts on “Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga – What’s It All About”

    • It certainly is Brian. Has been around for a few years now and is gaining momentum. Paddle Boarding itself is really taking off so give it a try if it’s new to you and I’m sure you’ll love it.

  1. Wow! This seems like so much fun! I love to swim (and the water in general) and have been practicing yoga since my freshman year of college, but I’ve never thought of combining the two. Given that summer is right around the corner, and many of the beaches have reopened, paddle board yoga would be a perfect way to de-stress and enjoy the beautiful weather that we’re getting. I’ve never been on a paddle or surfboard before, so I’d likely try to do that before adding yoga to the mix. Haha I have saved your article and will definitely be back! God bless you!

    • Definitely worth trying if you’re into yoga. Paddle boarding isn’t that hard so if you have some natural balance as I’m sure you do then its something that you might want to get on your to-do list. Take care – Jason.

  2. Oh my god! I love this. I live in the UK, so weather plays a factor here. But, after reading this, I WANT TO and HAVE TO try this. I have been in the Fitness Industry for many years and am an avid fan of Yoga, so i’m definitely up for this. thank you so much for this great article.

    • Hey thanks Punee. It’s great fun and if you’re into yoga then I’m sure you’d take to it quite easily. Coming into summer now as well so I’d say it might be something for you. All the best – Jason.

  3. I live on the island of Guam – a U.S. territory. Since we’re surrounded by water, paddle boarding and yoga have been around. We have classes now that do SUP yoga. I’ve never tried it but it sounds and looks amazing. I’ve only done yoga on land. Especially nice with a beach view. I’m not a very good swimmer so I’m hesitant to go paddle boarding let alone do yoga on one. But one day I’ll try. Thanks for you informative post!

    • That makes perfect sense Dana and as I mentioned in the Post, ‘baby steps’ is perhaps the best way if you’re not an overly confident swimmer. Flat and shallow water would also make sense so if you can get up the courage and perhaps take a class, them I’m sure you’ll be a big fan. Thanks for your thoughts though and all the best – Jason.

  4. Hi Jason,

    Great post. I have been a yogi for around five years now and would say I’m at a competent level, I have also been after a SUP for a while but are yet to purchase one. I would think this would be a great workout for the whole body and the core, even more than normal yoga is.

    I have no doubt I would end up in the water quite a few times…but think it would be a great deal of fun.

    How much would you pay for a SUP as a beginner? Would you go for solid or inflatable?

    • Hey thanks for your comments. I’m not particularly strong in the yoga department but the change of scenery and added challenges of the board / water certainly make it a lot of fun as well as being a genuine work-out. Gone are the old aerobics classes these days it would appear!!

      If you’ve got the time take a look at a couple of the other Posts on this site that speak to beginners, benefits as well as tips for flat v hard boards. For yoga specifically, inflatables are the preferred choice as they offer a few benefits that better suit yoga.

      Like most recreational activities, you can go a little silly with throwing your money around but you should be able to pick up a decent board (and accessories package) for around the $400+ area. With more $$ comes a greater level of quality and board versatility so it really depends on how deep your pockets are. There are a couple of links on this Post that take you to some of the Amazon options so take a look if you’re keen to further explore. Like anything, do a bit of online surfing so you can get a feel for what’s on the market.

      Happy to chat further but give it a try. Great fun so well worth the effort. All the best – Jason.

  5. again your articles and the products you review are great and unique. i had no idea that something like that do exist and i think i learned something new today. anyway it sounds a lot of fun. i do practice yoga once a week but never thought i can do it on a board. great

    • I’m not too great at yoga myself but on a board it does make it a bit more rewarding and challenging off course. Anytime you can get out on the water is always a good thing mind you. Give it a try!!

      All the best – Jason. 

  6. So cool! I would love to try this especially to improve balance, but also for all the other benefits of being in nature. I’m an older person though in my early 60s so would love to try this on calm waters though. Is this something you would recommend for over 60s?

    By the way, I love the layout of your website and the photos really pop and actually make me feel relaxed and calm.


    • Hey thanks Rina. I’m in my 50’ies now so pretty much stick to flat water paddling myself. Any of the beginners or intermediate boards and there are a lot to chose from depending on your budget should suit you well. As long as your’e semi-coordinated and don’t mind getting wet then it’s easy to learn so well worth giving it a go.

      All the best – Jason.

  7. This is such an intriguing topic. I’d never even thought of it before, but it’s absolutely genius. For all levels of yogis, this is such a fun challenge! I can only imagine the benefits to your core from trying to stabilize yourself on a floating board like that. This sounds so serene if you were on a lake or in a bay. I will definitely have to try it out the next time I find myself having a lake day. And thank you for the safety tips, too! Awesome info!

    • Thanks Maria. Yes, it takes your yoga to another level and certainly creates a unique backdrop for the experience. Definitely a must try if yoga is your thing. I hope you get the chance to give it a try.

      All the best – Jason.


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