5 Dog-Inspired Poses For SUP Yoga

If you’ve ever spent time with a dog then you know they’re natural Yogis. Perhaps it’s your canine’s poses and stretching that lead them to such happy and stress-free lives? We’re taking inspiration from our favorite stand up paddle board (SUP) partners to offer a handful of yoga dog poses that will take your paddling power to a whole new level. Hopefully, these stretches will also make you feel as happy and relaxed as your favorite SUP pup.

We recommend finding your balance with each pose on your yoga mat before taking your dog stretch yoga to the water. And if you want to practice on your rigid or inflatable paddle board on sand or grass, be sure to remove your center SUP fin and make sure the ground under your board is free from any hard objects that could cause damage.

downward facing dog

Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

This forward bend pose will strengthen your legs and upper arms while stretching your hands, hamstrings, shoulder blades, calves, hands, and feet. It gets its name from the way a dog stretches their entire body and it’s perfect for the muscles you use when you paddle board.

  • Start on your hands and knees with your hands just forward of your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips in a tabletop position. Spread your fingers out for stability and turn your toes under so your arches are facing the sky.
  • Tuck your toes under your body so your weight is on the balls of your feet. Exhale as you lift your knees away from the board while pressing through your palms to lift your sitting bones back and up as you bring yourself into an upside-down V pose.
  • Keep your legs and spine as long and straight as possible while you slide your shoulder blades down.
  • While keeping your spine straight, “pedal out the legs” to stretch alternating bending through each knee with the long-term goal of bringing both heels toward the floor — if your hamstrings will allow it.
  • Hold for 5 breaths.
upward facing dog

Upward-Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

This backbend pose will strengthen your wrists, arms, and vertebral column while stretching your shoulders and core, including your thorax, abdomen, and lungs. It’s excellent for upper body strength and feels absolutely delightful for beginners and expert Yogis.

  • Lie flat on your stomach with your palms on your board positioned just below your shoulders like you’re going to do a push-up, but with the arches of your feet facing the sky. 
  • Press your hands firmly into the board, arching your back as you lift your chest and head into the air.
  • Straighten your elbows and maintain pressure on the tops of your feet as you stretch your entire upper body toward the sky with your eyes looking up to stretch your entire core. If you’re struggling to get your hips off the ground, you can bend your elbows slightly to accommodate.
  • Hold for 5 breaths.
paddle board stretching

Puppy Pose (Anahatasana)

This heart-melting pose will stretch your wrists and shoulders while energizing your entire body. Aside from the physical benefits, anahatasana will elevate your mood and impart a strong sense of inner peace and tranquility.

  • Begin with your hands and knees on your board. Position your shoulders above your wrists and your hips above your knees, in a tabletop position. Walk your hands a few inches toward the nose of your board and curl your toes under so your arches face the sky.
  • Move your hips halfway back toward your heels so your thighs are vertical.
  • Gently drop your forehead to your board while keeping your open palms and forearms stretched out and touching the board. 
  • Keep your neck relaxed and a slight curve in your lower back as you press your hands down and stretch through your arms while moving your hips toward your heels.
  • Hold for 5 breaths.

Supine Twist Pose (Supta Jaṭhara Parivartānāsana)

This beginner pose will help you explore your stand up paddle board’s balance points. It’s one of the easiest ways to fully stretch your back muscles and spine, both of which will feel great before and after a long day on the water.

  • Lie on your back with your toes pointed toward the sky and your arms resting by your side.
  • Bring your right knee up to your chest. Open your knee to stretch out your hip joint. 
  • Extend your right arm to the side and use your left arm to pull. Fold your bent leg across your body to the left, letting your lower body follow while looking over your extended arm 
  • Stretch your right arm out while twisting your spine toward the left, bringing your right knee as close to your board as comfortably possible. 
  • Hold for 5 breaths and switch sides.
Sundial/Compass Pose (Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana)

Sundial/Compass Pose (Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana)

This advanced pose will test your balance on the water, so make sure to be patient with your progress while learning it and do not push anything to the level of discomfort. It’s a great pose to stretch your hamstrings, hips, shoulders, and muscles along your ribcage — all key areas for stand up paddle boarding power and long-distance endurance.

  • Begin in a comfortable cross-legged position on the center of your board.
  • Use your right hand to grab the arch of your left foot and bring your left arm under your left calf for support to keep your left shin horizontal.
  • Gently elevate your left heel while moving your left thigh back for space with the goal of moving your leg over your shoulder. Continue until your leg is as high up on your arm possible without discomfort. Keep your shin against your arm to hold your pose.
  • Use your right hand to hold the outside of your left foot. Your head should be centered between your left thigh and your biceps. Maintain balance using your left fingertips on your board, positioning them so that your left elbow is straight.
  • Straightening your left leg as far as comfortably possible while maintaining length through your spine as twist to the right. 
  • Hold for 5 breaths and switch sides.
Yoga paddle board
The Scout is the ultimate Yoga SUP

What’s The Best Paddle Board For SUP Yoga?

  • Stability is by far the most important feature to consider for a Yoga SUP, so look for a paddle board with at least 32 inches of width to help keep you balanced on the water during your yoga practice.
  • While an inflatable paddle board (iSUP) may not seem like the obvious choice for SUP yoga, their increased height off the water when compared to hard or epoxy paddle boards makes them better-suited for SUP yoga. Look for an inflatable or blow up paddle board with around 6 inches of thickness.
  • Finally, your deck or traction pad is going to take the place of a traditional yoga mat, so look for a board with full-length traction so you can try any yoga pose on your board.

Wrapping Up:

When practicing new yoga poses, especially on the water, remember to be compassionate and patient with your progress. If you find yourself struggling to hold a pose or maintain your balance, do not get discouraged — that just means your body deserves more practice. But with time and patience, you will be able to master each dog-inspired yoga pose on the water. Happy paddling!

Posted in Paddleboard Yoga
Jeff Hale - Jeff is the Content Manager at ISLE Surf and SUP. He's been an avid surfer and paddler for over 20 years, and he's always looking for an excuse to spend more time in the water. Jeff grew up in Southern California where he earned his Bachelor's in English at UC Irvine and his MBA at Chapman University. You can find him in the water after work and on weekends in San Diego.