Stand up paddle boarding (SUPs) is a great way to improve balance, awareness and strength. Pairing a paddle session with yoga, both away and on the water, is a great way to strengthen your paddle experience and yoga practice. Let’s explore a few of these points below.
SUPing requires you to find your balance (hint: keeping feet hip-width distance toward the centre of the board is best) both on the board and adapt it to the instability of the water you are floating on. While this may seem intimidating at first, with a bit of practice it becomes second nature. Being able to establish your balance and remain grounded in ever flowing water is a key skill that can be enhanced with yoga postures. In yoga there is a saying:
Why is this true? In tadasana, you ground yourself by pushing evenly through the soles of the feet, stacking you shoulders over hips and creating a long line of body awareness. Although you are still, you are strong, balanced and grounded. These same points are key to practicing every yoga pose effectively and mindfully. They are also key points when paddling.
Below are key poses you can try before you get on your board, and as you gain confidence, on your SUP in the water.
Key Yoga postures:
- Mountain pose ( this is the actual pose you take when you are upright on a paddle board)
- Table top pose
- Tiger pose
- Thunderbolt pose
Both SUPing and yoga heighten your awareness. In yoga, this awareness may be inward, as you focus on your breath, inner thoughts and physical sensations in postures. You also develop proprioception, which is the spatial awareness of your own body. Establishing this internal awareness before practicing on the SUP is beneficial for the body and mind. It allows you to acquaint yourself with your physical sensations, while also controlling the rate of breath to stay calm- an important tool to use whilst SUPing.
Key yoga postures:
- Mountain pose (it is in every asana!)
- Box breathing ( this can be practiced with any yoga pose)
- Easy pose
- Childs pose
- Cat-cow pose
SUPing may not appear like a strenuous workout at first. The steps to get started are simple: grab a paddle board, go to water, get on and start paddling! But as you paddle, you will quickly realise that you are working out the entire body as you build strength and endurance through constant balancing and propelling yourself by paddling. It is important to consider the strength of your arms and shoulders, as they will be moving you as you paddle. The core body also factors in, as it allows you to balance and aids in the prolonged paddling movement. It is common to wake up the morning after a SUP with some sore, but happy muscles.
Key yoga postures:
Moving from Mat to Board
A very obvious, key difference in yoga on the mat vs on the SUP is that on the mat, the ground is stable. On the SUP, the water is not stable, and poses that you may normally feel comfortable wit on the mat can feel challenging and sometimes impossible. The key is to remind yourself of your key points: Balance and ground to set your base; slow the breath and become aware of your body on the SUP; and activate muscles to find stabilising and strength to adjust the paddle and paddle forward. Start by moving slower to ground yourself and raise awareness. If you do keep unsteady, you can always come down to your knees and keep your eyes on the horizon.
SUP and yoga are like cheese and wine, strawberries and cream, a bucket and spade. Each exists separately, but they complement each other when together.
So give it a go! You can practice each of the poses above before a paddle, or once you feel comfortable, on a stand up paddle board! If you’re in Norwich, check out Norfolk Paddle Boards for all of your SUPing needs!
Stay tuned to upcoming SUP – yoga sessions in Norwich!