DOGS ON THE WATER - 5 reasons why you must try SUP YOGA
When I first saw someone on a stand-up paddleboard I was rather amused: "Ok, so this is surfing for wannabe surfers..." Not long thereafter I realised that this new activity was becoming more and more popular, and some people were creative enough to offer combos like fitness classes on the board - and even SUP Yoga! Right. Another "fusion yoga" fad? Honestly, I didn't see much value in it. Until I tried it!
It was only when one of my students made me aware that our local SUP hire business Sunseekers Melbourne was looking for yoga teachers who might be interested in teaching yoga on a paddleboard. Back then I was not much into SUP at all. But since I was already teaching yoga on the beach and could see people paddling around every morning I thought maybe I should give it a try. Just in case. Ever since I’m hooked!
SUP yoga is far more than just a fad. It comes with a number of benefits which you might not be thinking of:
5 REASONS WHY YOU MUST TRY SUP YOGA
1. OUTDOOR ACTIVITY
Paddling as such already is a great outdoor activity. For me, exercising outside is a lot more enjoyable than indoor training. I like to breathe fresh air instead of taking in all the “fumes” you typically find in gyms or even in some yoga rooms during a strong practice. Scientists also report more and more often that being in nature apparently has positive effects on both body and mind.
2. FULL-BODY EXERCISE
I prefer forms of exercise that don’t aim to strengthen isolated muscle groups but work on several areas at the same time. Paddling does exactly that: What looks so easy from the distance requires a good sense of balance and trains your arm, trunk, bum and thigh muscles – all in one go. And you can even get your heart rate up when you paddle faster! Now imagine you add some yoga moves...!
3. FROM THE GROUND UP - REVISITING THE BASICS
When getting a little bored by our usual yoga routine most of us start working on new, more fancy poses. Nothing wrong with that, but... Have you ever thought of taking your standard routine into a different environment? When I tried SUP yoga for the first time it threw me back in time to my very first steps on the yoga mat. Suddenly, the easiest moves (think bird dog or low lunges) were sooo challenging due to the unstable board under my hands & feet! This reminded me to focus on all the little details of each pose - such as proper positioning of hands and feet and engaging the core - instead of rushing through a well-known sequence. Revisiting the basics helps us get better in more advanced moves. So, a little throw-back on the board can take your on-land practice to the next level!
4. MINDFUL, EFFICIENT MOVEMENT & FULL BODY CONTROL
As the board is an unstable surface you need to focus on alignment and know your centre of gravity – otherwise you will go overboard. To stabilise your pose and balance the permanent movement of the paddleboard you will use every single muscle, all the time, more than you do on even ground. Plus, you can’t rush through a sequence of asanas. Smooth, fluent transitions from one pose to the other are essential for staying on the board. This makes SUP Yoga a fabulous full-body workout!
Did you know? Physio therapists often use unstable surfaces like balance balls or balance boards to make the patients improve their joint stability and alignment after injuries!
5. QUIETENING THE MIND
SUP yoga is best practised early in the morning when the sea is calm, and the beach is quiet - the perfect time to turn you focus inwards, enjoy the moment and set your intentions for the day. It is said that around sunrise the electromagnetic energy around us is most beneficial for the body. You can believe this or not, but from my own experience and what my students tell me, practising outdoors in the morning feels much more invigorating than the same practice done indoors. Plus, the positive effects last longer during the day, and - as you have already done your exercise - you have the afternoon and evening free to enjoy other things.
You would like to try SUP Yoga but are not quite sure if you are ready yet? No need to worry!
Our sessions are open to all levels. We usually start with easier seated or kneeling positions. Once you feel comfortable on the paddleboard we’ll invite you to try more challenging variations. Eventually, you will be able to move through a sequence of standing poses or even try an arm balance. Yes, you may get wet along the way, but the good thing is, falling won’t hurt!
Carmen is a mum-of-4, full-time yoga teacher and co-owner of Inner Smile Yoga & Health in Altona (Melbourne, Australia). She loves all things outdoors, so she has established Beach yoga on Altona Beach. More recently she started teaching SUP yoga in collaboration with Sunseekers Melbourne.