MARCH, 2015 — SUP Yoga
Standup Paddle Board Yoga. What a mouthful! Well lately it’s been all the rage, especially here in Rio de Janeiro where the views from your board are some of the best in the world.
So what exactly is “SUP yoga”? It is basically yoga on a stand-up paddle board, in the water. We already know what you’re thinking, “Yoga on a stand up paddleboard? You must be kidding, I can barely stand on one of those and what does that have to do with yoga anyway?” While aside from being a great way for yogis to challenge their on-land practice, it’s really a fun activity for anyone looking to get a good workout. The SUP board is large enough to act as a mat and sturdy enough to support someone standing on it. The world becomes your studio and all the elements have been invited!
The challenge is to balance using your core strength, with intense focus, with the ultimate goal to be grounded while floating. Although it can be difficult at first, it’s a fun practice with some serious benefits.
Doing yoga on a surface that is constantly moving gets your core muscles going and strengthens muscles that aren’t normally used in everyday practice. Even simple poses like “plank” is more challenging because the added movement activates your core and arms. SUP yoga requires a different quality of focus, not just when you’re doing the poses but also when you’re transitioning between them. For example, moving your foot between your hands from Downward Facing Dog to come into a Low Lunge can shift a board a few inches forward even on the calmest water. The key is to make small movements, adjusting your alignment and fixing your gaze on a point along the horizon or on the shore.
Wondering if it’s worth it to spend your time balancing on the ins and outs of the great blue sea? Most classes begin with a warm-up stretch on the beach. Next, you hit the water and paddle out on the boards to get the heart pumping.
Once the group is in a suitable area, you move from pose to pose. Like most yoga classes, you finish with a seated meditation and savasana. What makes the harder parts worth it is the feeling you get while the ocean is gently rocking you in savasana, fingers dipped in the water and the sunshine warming your skin. It just can’t be beat!
Here are a few reasons why you should give SUP yoga a go:
1. Find peace, balance, and focus
2. Be in the here and now
3. Enjoy mother nature
4. Challenge yourself in new ways
5. Strengthen your core like never before
6. Learn to roll with things as they come, like a few waves
7. Find new like-minded friends
8. Laugh at yourself a little, or a lot
9. Get that sun-kissed glow you’ve been missing out on from doing yoga indoors
It’s recommended that before diving into a SUP yoga class, you should know how to swim and also have taken an introduction to stand up paddling class. It’s also important that you wear clothes that will dry quickly as falling in the water is just part of the experience. If you’re practicing in Brazil, a bikini or board shorts and of course sunscreen will do just fine. Also, rent a board once you entirely sure you are ready to commit! To get you started, here are a few of our favourite beginner poses:
1. Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
2. Plank Pose
3. Adho Muka Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
4. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)
5. Navasana (Boat Pose)
Green Stone Journeys offers SUP as an optional activity on most of our yoga adventure tours.
Photos: Green Stone Journeys and Ju Martins