Do you feel your confidence growing in your beach yoga? Want to step it up a little and take your flow to the water? It’s time you give stand up paddle board yoga a try!

So, you feel your confidence growing in your yoga on the beach – by confidence growing, let’s say you’re no longer toppling over during the One-Legged Mountain Pose. You feel like you’ve got the basics down and you’d like to step it up a little and take your flow to the water by trying stand up paddleboard yoga.

Stand up paddleboard yoga is exactly what it sounds like. It is the practice of yoga while balancing on a paddleboard in the middle of the water. We don’t think we need to tell you that practicing the same asanas on the water as you do on the beach is going to a different kind of challenge. SUP yoga requires more strength, stability, mindfulness and, most importantly, balance than you’re used to. But don’t worry; there’s always a soft, refreshing landing waiting if you lose your composure and splash down.

So what do you need to know when taking your practice to the water? We’re going to let you in on a few things to keep in mind when taking your morning yoga session from the beach to the lake, pond, bay, or even a calm protected bit of the ocean.

Best women's paddle board for yoga, the Thurso Surf Tranquility Yoga SUP leans on rocks

Taking in the views after a yoga session on her Thurso Surf Tranquility Yoga SUP.

From Yoga on the Beach to Yoga on a SUP

If this is your first time taking your yoga practice from the beach to the water, you’re probably wondering what equipment you need. Can you just buy any old paddleboard and call it a day?

Well, not exactly. While a good paddleboard is all you really need, they come in different shapes and sizes. Although you can technically use any paddleboard you can keep your balance on, it’s worth checking out a SUP that’s specifically designed for your yoga practice. Things to look for in a yoga SUP are: the right size and shape, an extra-large and comfortable deck pad that feels good to lay on, and other yoga-specific features that show an attention to detail.

Woman with Thurso Surf Tranquility Yoga SUP on the Beach

Forget yoga on the beach; it’s time to head out for SUP yoga on the Tranquility!

What to Look for in a Yoga Stand Up Paddleboard

When you practice yoga on the beach, you can concentrate on your movements. But for yoga on a paddle board, the movement of the water also matters. For your yoga SUP board, you want stability. That means a larger platform relative to your body size than you’d find in a surf or racing paddleboard. You’re not looking for nimble performance here. You’re looking for plenty of space and a stable shape with a rounded nose and broad tail. A yoga SUP like our Tranquility or a large all-around board like the Waterwalker or Max is perfect. Next, you’ll want to look for an inflatable SUP with an extra-long EVA deck pad. These pads are both comfortable and grippy, like your favorite yoga mat. The deck pad is where yoga-specific SUPs really shine.

You need a paddle to move around the water, so you’ll also need a place to store it out of your way while you practice your asanas. The best yoga SUPs have velcro clasps to hold onto your paddle securely off to one side. Just jamming your paddle under the deck bungees can work in a pinch. However, it isn’t as convenient as a system specifically designed to hold your paddle for you. An ideal yoga SUP will also have offset handles rather than a single one in the center of your board. With a deck pad that runs through the middle of your board smooth and uninterrupted, you can stay centered. This way you won’t be distracted by laying on any lumpy handles when you’re practicing corpse pose.

Woman stretching on Thurso Surf Tranquility SUP

Velcro clasps hold the paddle along the rail of the board and the Tranquility’s extra-long deck pad makes it easy to practice any pose.

What You Need to Know for Your SUP Yoga Practice

Here are some things to remember when taking your yoga practice from the beach to the water:

1. Your muscles will be engaged in a different way than in a regular yoga-on-the-beach class

Yoga works wonders on your muscles, putting them through their full range of motion and helping them develop strength. This not only helps develop the muscles that you need to improve balance, but it also decreases your risk of injury.

When you practice SUP yoga, it engages many of the same muscles but brings your yoga practice to a whole other level. While yoga engages muscles that you can’t develop any other way, adding a paddleboard into the mix develops muscles that you may not even know you have. SUP yoga helps develop the tiny, stabilizer muscles that are hard to target in the gym or in regular yoga practice. These are known as our intrinsic muscles which surround important body parts that can be easily injured, like our feet, hands, joints, spine, etc. By training these muscles with gentle practice on the water, you shore up those key areas, making them stronger and less prone to injury.

Thurso Surf stretch session on the water

Moving through a yoga pose while out on the water.

2. It will improve your yoga on the beach practice

After practicing SUP yoga, you may find previously difficult asanas gradually become easier to do. Your balance is seriously called into play when you practice yoga on the water because as the water moves, you’ll naturally need to make micro-adjustments to hold yourself steady. When you’re consistently practicing paddleboard yoga, you’ll also be improving your balance practice greatly. This translates to more stable and confident asanas in the studio. You’ll naturally find yoga easier on land and you’ll be stronger with a better sense of what it takes to stay balanced.

3. Your arms, core, and back will naturally become more toned

When you practice yoga on the water, all of the benefits that come along with paddleboarding now accompany the benefits of yoga. Paddling around on the water gives your arms, core, and back workouts a serious boost. The basic paddle stroke engages your core and upper body to accelerate, maintain speed, and turn. Strengthening these large muscle groups can be a real benefit to your yoga practice. Yoga heavily focuses on a healthy core and having the arm strength to build towards holding up your own bodyweight in challenging asanas.

Woman knee paddles on Thurso Surf Tranquility Yoga stand up paddleboard

Paddling out for a stand up paddleboard yoga session.

4. You’re forced to work on your weaknesses

Certain parts of your body may need more work than others when it comes to strength, tone, and flexibility. A SUP yoga session quickly highlights muscle groups that need attention. Yoga asanas you’re comfortable with on land will feel more challenging on the water. By trying a familiar flow on the water, you’ll quickly discover which specific muscles are not as strong as you’d like them to be for a given pose. This helps you understand where your weaknesses lie and what to work on to further your practice. SUP yoga is a more intense workout than yoga on the beach and if, for example, your core is weak, you’ll notice right away. You’ll quickly figure out which areas need to be improved when you’re practicing a position like the Tree Pose and you’re having a hard time staying upright!

5. It’s just as peaceful (if not more so) than practicing on the beach or in the studio

There is something about being on the water that provides a sense of peace and tranquility. While watching the water from the shores of the beach can have the same effect, feeling the gentle sway of the waves with the water all around takes it to another level. At the end of your practice, just as you would in the studio, lie on your board and practice Corpse Pose for as long as you can. Let your fingers trail into the water and close your eyes. Listen to the sound of the birds, the waves, and the gentle wind in the air while you slowly inhale and exhale. While not all parts of SUP yoga may be quite as relaxing, it’s all worth it for the tranquility of this moment.

Yoga on the Beach vs Yoga on a SUP Final ‘Pose’

SUP yoga is truly a fantastic way to take your beach yoga practice to the next level. If you’re serious about yoga, it certainly puts your skills to the test. From balance to strength, to flexibility and more, SUP yoga is an activity you should add to your practice this summer.

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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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