Can you believe someone actually went and invented a type of yoga in which instead of using a typical yoga mat you practice on the sea on top of a floating yoga board?
Humans are so inventive, aren’t they?
The first time I heard about it was during a trip to the Cook Islands and I personally thought it was an impossible thing to do. Even though I hadn’t ever tried it before I knew what paddle boarding was, and having recently started a daily yoga routine of course I knew about yoga, but doing both of those very different activities combined? Unimaginable.
The curiosity was killing me and I had to try it.
My friend and I booked a 90 minutes of SUP yoga session for all levels. Most people participating in the class were beginners like me, that’s why they used the best paddle boards for yoga even for beginners, the paddle boards were wider which made them easier to keep balance.
The first half an hour was a crash course on how to stand-up paddle board, how to stand up and keep balance, how to hold the paddle, how to change directions etc. Stand up paddle boarding is super easy to learn but it does require a lot of strength and concentration to paddle and keep balance.
After paddling for about 15 minutes we arrived to a peaceful, almost wave-less part of the beach and the yoga started!
Because it’s an all levels class the yoga flow included basic and easier poses, however, because it was on top of the water and I had to struggle not only to do the pose but to keep balance and avoid falling on the water even an easy Warrior 2 pose was so difficult for me because I was scared to fall into the water.
Ok, so falling in the water is no big deal because it was actually not deep at all, BUT!!! some of the beaches on the Cook Islands were filled with sea cucumbers, I don’t know if you have ever seen a sea cucumber in real life but they look like big black worms (or something I won’t say because it’s X-rated). I did not want to fall in that water and accidentally touch one of those horrendous monsters.
At the end of the class, our SUP yoga instructor gave us free time to do any poses we wanted to try and she took photos of us. I decided to try camel pose and a shoulder stand.
I say this with a slight hint of pride but I managed to finish my very first SUP yoga lesson nice and dry. After trying it out I think that there are huge benefits in doing SUP yoga and paddle boarding but the downside is that because you need a paddle board and some kind of big water space it is less accessible compared to regular yoga.
Benefits of stand-up paddle board yoga (SUP yoga)
- Strength: You need a lot of core strength to keep your balance on top of a paddle board, and even easy poses on dry land will be super challenging while floating in the water.
- Improves balance: Your balance skills will be tested to the limit.
- Concentration, awareness and focus: With each pose you need to adjust yourself and concentrate on what you are doing even more than with regular yoga.
- Peaceful: Something about being in the water makes yoga practice even more peaceful and relaxing.
- Three workouts in one: Yoga, stand-up paddle and swimming you get to do all three.
- Fun: It’s not only about the workout but also it is about having fun in the water. It’s a great activity to do during your vacation.
Up until now I only have had the pleasure to do Stand-up paddle yoga that one time on the Cook Islands but I really want to do some more, especially now that I can do some new poses. Maybe I will buy a cheap paddle board one day, or even one of those inflatable paddle boards and try to practice on my own. Someday. Someday.