Yoga on a Paddle Board
If you love yoga, you’ve probably heard about practicing yoga on a stand up paddle board – or maybe you’ve tried it out! SUP yoga is a popular yoga-fitness fusion involving practicing a yoga routine on a paddle board while floating on water.
The wind and constant motion of the water only add to the intensity of your practice! Plus, the occasional passing bird, fish or dolphin tend to really mix it up from a traditional land yoga practice.
10 Poses for Practicing Surf Yoga on a Stand Up Paddle Board
There are plenty of reasons to try yoga on a stand up paddle board, and below are the top 10 paddle board yoga poses pro Helen Cloots and Isle Surf have put together for a balanced and fun yoga practice.
1. Downward facing dog
This is a great paddle yoga pose to start with. It creates length through your spine, helps you find balance on your board and connect to your breath and the water. Spread your fingers wide and feel free to pedal your feet. Let go of your day and get centered through your movements and postures.
2. Chair pose
This pose builds strength in your legs and core. The closer your feet are the harder it is, so you can start with your feet hip distance or wider. Chair pose creates a sense of grounding, which can be challenging when you’re practicing surfboard yoga.
3. Modified crescent lunge
Image your feet on either side of the center line of the board because balance can be tricky in crescent lunge. This is a great pose for opening your hips, psoas, and quadriceps. Really press your feet into your board and engage your core muscles when doing this pose in your SUP paddle board yoga practice.
4. Warrior 2
Warrior 2 is one of the trickiest poses you can do on your board. It makes you feel like a warrior when you finally find your balance, but requires you to be strong, steady and calm. Move slowly, and reach fingertips forward and back.
5. Boat Pose
This is a great paddle board yoga pose to continue to build core strength and stability, which is useful for paddle boarding, yoga and any other sport. You can challenge this pose by straightening your legs and reaching your arms to the sky, or doing boat crunches, lowering halfway down then lifting back to boat. These postures and movements can really strengthen your core muscles and can be modified depending on your fitness level.
6. Crow pose
Crow pose opens your hips and low back, and brings your center of gravity toward your board serving as the perfect pose for your stand up paddle board yoga practice. Bring your palms to the traction pad (shoulder width apart), and balance your elbows on your inner thighs until you’re toes gradually lift off the traction pad. Relaxed breaths are key here.
One of my favorite yoga poses on the board, headstand flips your perspective and brings fresh blood to your head. I love seeing the water and sky upside-down and feel the freedom of floating with my legs over my head. For more experienced yogis, the headstand on a board is a fun and challenging pose to try in your next stand up paddle board yoga class!
8. Thread the needle
This is a great way to stretch your shoulders and wring out your spine, creating flexibility and decreasing stress between your vertebrae. Paddling can cause sore shoulders, this pose feels really good to stretch everything out.
9. Full wheel
Backbends lengthen your spine, open your chest, stretch your abdomen and help lift your mood. This is an awesome pose to do when you’re feeling a bit down.
Probably my favorite pose, especially on a paddleboard when it’s sunny. There’s no better feeling than floating along the water. I like to let my hands and feet dangle into the water.
Meet Our SUP Yoga Guru
Helen Cloots is a personal wellness consultant and one of the finest yoga instructors in San Diego. Helen has her own website, Balancing Wellness, dedicated to a more balanced way of living. Originally from Texas, Helen’s passion for being outdoors has led her down the path of paddle board yoga instruction.
Choosing the Best Paddle Board for Yoga
There are numerous stand up paddle boards on the market specifically for yoga, but we have found that inflatable boards make an excellent choice for many reasons compared to a hard board. Below are some of our favorite yoga boards for water that we offer at ISLE Surf and SUP.
Our Lotus SUP yoga board packs down to the size of a sleeping bag, making it easy to store in your car or trunk. Plus, the slight give from the inflatable construction helps reduce soreness while posing. Check out our other paddle boards that can be used for yoga.
As a general rule of thumb, as long as the paddle board you are using is wide and stable enough to comfortably support your weight while standing on flat water you should be fine.
SUP Yoga Classes in San Diego
It seems like SUP Yoga classes are popping up everywhere, so we wanted to mention a couple quality places in San Diego to check out. Our friends over at San Diego Paddle Yoga do a great job with classes for beginner and intermediate yoga, SUP with your PUP, Kids Yoga, SUP Fit Challenges and dark night tours.
If you’re looking for a more one-on-one experience our good friend and yoga expert Mandy (or “Zen Girl,” as many call her) is a certified yoga instructor and writer based in La Jolla. Mandy has been leading yoga retreats and offering unique private instructions which you can book via her website and blog, Zen Girl: A Modern Girl’s Guide to Finding Inner Peace.
Paddleboard Yoga Certification
If you are interested in teaching a SUP Yoga class, you will need to acquire your certification through an authorized yoga instructor. Our friends at Paddle Into Fitness put on a great 4-day training course which covers learning key techniques, water safety and two styles of SUP Yoga. The class costs $400 and you have to be CPR and First Aid certified while being a proficient swimmer.