In this article, we give you a beginner’s guide to SUP yoga for success on your own or in a SUP yoga class!
Over the last fifteen years, yoga has dramatically risen in popularity.
This is partly due to the fact it is an activity that can reduce stress, increase flexibility, and instill an overall sense of well-being for its participants.
Normally, classes are held inside a studio setting where yogis are guided through a series of poses by a trained yoga instructor.
As the activity has grown, experienced yogis have taken it upon themselves to create different types of yoga to indulge the curiosity of its millions of practitioners. Out of the original sequences came new iterations such as hot yoga, aerial yoga, Bikram yoga, and our favorite – SUP yoga.
In SUP yoga, classes are conducted on a calm body of water, most likely a lake or bay, and paddlers are instructed to anchor in place where a teacher at the head of the group will guide them through a series of poses on their boards.
Does that sound interesting to you? Exciting? Have you tried it once or twice before?
If so, then don’t let us stand in your way. Find a class near you and get out there! But, if you’re still unsure if you’ll like it, or nervous about falling in, then continue reading because we’re about to share a few beginner tips that will help you start your very own successful SUP yoga journey.
Let’s get into this beginner’s guide to SUP yoga!
Find a Great Teacher
Of all the tips on our beginner’s guide to SUP yoga, this first one is probably the most important. Without a great teacher, trying to learn a new skill is much more difficult. I’m sure you’ve come across this before in other areas of your life. When you start on a new activity, a new journey, or you’re trying to learn a new skill, the ability to have a great teacher in your corner cuts down on your struggle tremendously. It cannot be understated, finding a great teacher will help you excel at whatever you try.
But how do you find one?
There are few things you can look for.
The first being reviews. Make sure your prospective teacher has held a few classes before you sign up. Look for what their past students have said about the class. Or try to see if you know someone who has taken the class before and ask them how it went.
Another aspect to seek out is how many hours they have in learning yoga. Most instructors will be open about how many hours they’ve accrued in training. Presumably the more hours in training, the more experienced they will be teaching classes. And with more experience comes a better understanding of each individual student’s needs, including yours.
Third, make sure they’ve taught a few SUP yoga classes before as well. Traditional yoga and its many poses don’t always translate to success on the water. A great teacher will know what poses put their students in the best place for them to succeed. And they will guide you through them in a way that builds upon your earlier successes.
If you can find someone with all of these tips, then definitely sign up today! A great way to ensure your success is by finding the best teacher in your area.
Have the Right Equipment
If you can’t find an exceptional teacher to guide you through your first SUP yoga class then at least make sure you have the correct equipment to participate.
What do we mean by correct equipment? Isn’t it enough to have a SUP board and a calm place to paddle?
When you make it to the launch point, look over each board that is available for you to use. If you are an avid paddler then you probably already know what board will adequately float your weight and make it easy to balance on.
If you’re still new, make sure you grab the widest and thickest board possible. A wide board is much easier to maintain balance on, especially side to side. So for those tricky poses or moving from downward dog to upward dog, you’ll be able to easily balance throughout the sequence of the pose.
A thick board will help with the ability to float. If you have a board with low volume that can’t handle your weight, you’re looking at a tough time staying afloat and dry on top of your board. With a thicker board, you’ll still get the challenge from balancing on an unsteady platform but you’ll be able to achieve much more success in every pose during the sequence.
Of course, if you are a lucky owner of an Atoll board, then you’re all set when it comes to choosing the correct board. The Atoll’s thickness is enough to float almost any body size and the width is the perfect platform for performing almost any yoga pose you can think of!
Apart from those two important factors, also make sure the sandbag or anchor provided to keep your board from drifting in the water is heavy enough to keep you in place. If you’re unsure, it’s best to grab two. That way you won’t drift down the river while the class is resting in its final pose with their eyes closed.
Find the Best Spot
This next tip really only applies to those who are ready to try SUP yoga on their own. If you signed up for a class the instructor should be able to guide you to the perfect spot.
If you’re on your own – there are a few things to look for before anchoring up and getting started.
The first is the wind. This tip applies to almost every action taken on a SUP board. Always be aware of the wind. It can determine whether you have the best time ever on the water or you’re cursing the heavens while you struggle to paddle miles upon miles with the wind in your face.
Concerning SUP yoga, you’re going to want to find a spot that is as calm as possible. This means a sheltered place with little to no wind. This will ensure your anchor keeps you in one spot instead of drifting uncontrollably.
Speaking of anchors, our second tip is to find a place that is shallow enough for your anchor to reach the bottom. If you throw your anchor overboard and it ends up floating in water that is too deep, it won’t do much other than slow your board down a little. You will still continue to drift.
Last, scope out a spot with plenty of shade. We know, we know, you’re a sun god or goddess. You love soaking in every last ray of sunshine to the point where your skin is an exceptional shade of burnt. But let’s try to avoid that. At least until you receive your summer bronze.
When practicing SUP yoga you’re going to spend a lot of time in one spot. Meaning, instead of paddling underneath trees or taking breaks on the beach under an umbrella, you’re going to be lying in the open while stretching. Avoid the unnecessary burn and find a shaded spot.
Understand the Difference
Most people join a SUP yoga class with a pretty strong foundation in traditional yoga. They’re familiar with the flows, the sequences, and even know the names of each position.
But when they find themselves on the unstable surface of a board, they can sometimes feel like beginners all over again.
That’s okay. But to be more prepared, understand not every pose will translate to the water.
This can include any one-legged balance poses like tree pose, warrior three, or even warrior one or two. What seems easy on the land is made instantly more difficult on the water.
Understand that even though you are experienced, you should leave your expectations behind. If you can go in with the understanding that you might be a beginner in SUP yoga, you’ll ultimately have a better time throughout the class.
Practice Poses On Land
One great way to level up your SUP yoga skills is by practicing the difficult poses on the land before you hit the water. This can be great for beginners but also really helpful for experienced yogis as well.
Take those difficult balance poses and increase your level by holding the poses for a long period of time on land. Or, even better, once you are in a balance pose, practice with your eyes closed. The sensory deprivation of sight makes balancing even in simple poses, more difficult and unstable.
Get these down on land and before you know it, you’ll be accomplishing them on the water with ease!
Remember to Be Present
This is a tip in our beginner’s guide to SUP yoga that is often told to classes in traditional yoga. But it is important to remember it while on the water as well.
When you participate in a SUP yoga class you are partaking in an activity that very few people get to enjoy. On top of that, you’re surrounded by nature – the sound of the water, the heat from the sun, the birds in the trees, and the wind in your hair. While the process of the class can be difficult, it is rewarding.
Remember to remain present throughout the class. Take in how your body is feeling. What stretch works for you, what doesn’t. Breathe deeply. Relax. And enjoy.
If you can focus on the class and the class only, you’ll be rewarded with a quiet mind and vibrant body. And that will result in you enjoying the process and including SUP yoga into your exercise and spiritual routine for the longterm.
SUP yoga is an activity that works to improve you on a physical and mental level. Along with the added benefits of increased balance and a toner body, you’ll also begin to feel peaceful in mind and happier to partake in each and every part of your day – no matter what happens. For these reasons, we cannot recommend a SUP yoga class enough. And with your 11’ Atoll board inflated and ready to go, you’ll have the perfect platform to do just that. Questions about this beginner’s guide to SUP yoga? Comments? Not sure where to find a SUP yoga class near you – drop us a message! Our inbox is always open!