Stand up paddleboards (SUP) have opened a new door when it comes to getting a workout by combining paddleboarding and a yoga class. Both are fantastic workouts on their own but together, it is a win-win. It is not complicated; it is simply doing yoga on a paddleboard out on the water instead of on a yoga mat. Now’s your chance to get out of the studio or gym and on to the open water!

Some of the Many Benefits of SUP Yoga

Exercise is of course beneficial, but not always fun. However, with SUP yoga, you get to combine two great activities into one enjoyable experience. Best of all you don’t need a huge level of experience in either paddleboarding or yoga to start. If you’re interested, there are a variety of classes and routines (flows) for beginners all the way up to those who are more accomplished. In the end, SUP yoga is a great way to get out in the fresh air and enjoy some challenging and enjoyable exercise.
woman stretches on beach next to Thurso Surf Tranquility Yoga stand up paddleboard

Where’s your favorite place to do SUP yoga? At home, in the gym/studio, at a beach, or on open water?

The Pros of SUP Yoga

  • As with yoga in a studio, SUP yoga helps improve flexibility. However SUP yoga has the added advantage of improving your muscle definition and increases your overall muscle tone because you’re doing it on the water. Since SUP yoga combines flexibility and strength exercises, you benefit from the full range of motion plus the added effort of balancing. The combination is great because together they improve your muscle strength, balance, and overall body tone.
  • Improved circulation is another big bonus with SUP yoga. Yoga’s focus on breathing naturally helps to increase your body’s circulation. Furthermore it helps to reduce stress, which in turn helps you to relax.  And of course, doing this on the open water and under the sun further increases those benefits and their associated effects.
  • Yoga improves your balance as you become more experienced with the movements and poses. Therefore it should be no surprise that SUP yoga is even better. In addition to the benefits from traditional yoga, SUP yoga targets the core and stabilizer muscles as the paddler is working to stay on the board which is floating in the water while doing yoga poses. The more often you do SUP yoga, the better your balance is going to get.
  • If you want to work on your abs, SUP yoga is a great way to do it. Doing yoga poses that are meant to target your core combined with the strength needed to balance on a board that’s floating in the water is a fantastic core workout. The core muscles are critical to this process and get a great workout. Once again you can see how beneficial the combination of these two activities truly is.
woman walks to water with SUP boards yoga session

Happily heading out to the best yoga studio…the open water.

  • Practice makes perfect. As with any physical activity, your abilities improve the more you do it. SUP yoga helps to refine your yoga poses and improve your technique. The more you practice, the better your SUP yoga gets. When you try yoga in the studio again, you’ll be surprised by how much your poses will have improved from your yoga practice on water.
  • SUP yoga helps relieve stress and increases relaxation. Floating on the water is a calming experience, as is yoga. So combining the two can increase your sense of calm and stress reduction. Being outside in nice weather is one of the best ways to destress, calm your mind, and feel refreshed. You’ll be impressed by the rejuvenating effects of your SUP board yoga workout.
  • Doing SUP yoga gives you a sense of accomplishment and empowerment. It is not easy to do a full yoga workout on a paddleboard. It takes practice and patience to build your skill level to that of experienced yogis. When you finish a smooth SUP yoga session, it offers a great sense of accomplishment and pushes the paddler further to greater challenges.
  • Exercise can be enjoyable. If you don’t like it and aren’t having fun doing it, then there’s little follow-through and no desire to keep it up. One of the benefits of stand up paddleboarding yoga is that it’s fun. You are not only improving your physical health, but your mental health as well. Making sure it’s fun helps you stick with it and enjoy it more and more.
  • You will love the challenge of SUP yoga, both physically and mentally. You will find yourself determined to get better each time you are out. And it gives you a great reason to get out of the house and out on the water!

For example, check out what Austin has been able to accomplish on his Waterwalker! Watch the video for some inspiration and tips on how to do a headstand.

View this post on Instagram

practicing my headstands on the Waterwalker 132 from @thursosurf

A post shared by Austin Black (@austinblack25) on Jul 9, 2020 at 5:24am PDT

Austin (and paddle pup, Miller) really has those headstands dialed in! We’ve given it a try ourselves with soggy results, but paying attention to keeping your neck strong and using your hands to grip the rails of the board help. Share your practice and progress with us on Instagram using #ThursoSurf or wherever you hang out on social media.

Things to Do to Make Your Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga Great

Always hydrate before a workout. It sounds funny to say this since you are out on the water but you need to hydrate as you would with any other workout. It is easiest to hydrate before and after the session so you don’t have to worry about a water bottle getting in the way. That being said, good SUP yoga boards will come with tie downs and places for you to secure your gear if needed. Always make sure to hydrate when you’re exercising, especially when you’re out under the sun.

Also, wear the right clothes when performing a yoga session on your SUP. Your normal yoga clothes will work fine but since you are on the water, you may want a form-fitting swimsuit. That way you can jump in for a swim after you finish. And just like your normal yoga class on land you don’t want to wear jewelry or anything that might get in the way or fall off while you’re doing your routine.

stretching on a Thurso Surf Tranquility Yoga SUP in open water

Keep practicing and you’ll get there!

Dress to get wet, especially if you’re new to stand up paddleboarding yoga. You need to work on your balance so chances are you’re going to end up in the water at some point. This goes for beginners and advanced paddlers as well. It’s part of the fun and incredibly refreshing.

Also, be aware of the weather. You want to do your SUP yoga on calm water because rough water will make it unnecessarily awkward. Wind, rain, and rough water are all things you want to avoid not only due to higher frustration levels but also because you want to stay safe.

Lastly, remember to follow proper sun protection guidelines. Sunblock, even on a cloudy day, can save you from a burn. Any time you are going to be outdoors and directly under the sun for a long period of time, it’s best to get the right skin protection.

woman stretches on Thurso Surf Tranquility Yoga SUP near coast

Increase your strength and improve your balance by practicing yoga on a SUP.

Yoga on a SUP Final Thoughts

Finally, as with any new activity, it’ll take some practice to get used to. However, unlike other activities SUP Yoga is lots fun regardless of your skill level. Simply getting outdoors and onto your SUP is great. Adding the value of a yoga session to the experience only makes it that much better. Enjoy the water, your time on the board, and the feeling of accomplishment from completing a session. Don’t forget to let us know how your practice goes with those headstands! Tag #thursosurf on Instagram.

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About the Author: Matt G.

Matt Gelgota is a traveler and all around digital marketing guy. His greatest adventure to date was the Mongol Rally, a 10,000 mile unsupported on and off-road saga from Sweden to Mongolia. He has visited more than 50 countries and has been paddling a Thurso Surf Expedition since 2018. Since then he’s had a chance to paddle board in Nepal, Thailand, Japan, and the US. When he’s not on the road he divides his time between Tokyo and Atlanta, Georgia.

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