It’s the newest activity craze in the nation. Stand up paddleboarding (also known as SUP) is a fun, low impact way to be on the water and get exercise at the same time.
Another form of exercise is stand up paddleboard yoga. Yes, yoga on the water. This practice connects you to the water and surrounding nature.
While some poses are easier to do on the water than on land (sounds crazy, but it’s true), the benefit is you must be constantly present and aware of your body so you don’t fall into the water.
The BEST part (on most hot sunny days) is you don’t mind falling into the water.
Anytime you are around water, you want to use caution and practice safety first. If you are thinking of stand up paddle board or stand up paddleboard yoga, here are six considerations BEFORE you get started.
You’ll obviously need a body of water. There are different factors whether you are in a pool, a lake, or an ocean.
In a pool, you will most likely be tied down to a lane line. In open water, your board may be connected to a tow rope attached to an anchor or a dock. There may be a few cases in open water where you may not be attached to anything at all. Which leads to your safety.
No matter the body of water, you should be given a safety brief on land! The very first question your paddle guide, teacher or rental operator should ask you is:
This is important for both you and the establishment you are renting from.
Depending on where you live and where you will be participating, may require Coast Guard regulations. The operator should provide basic instructions about safety on land and around the water, how to set up and the rules of the water.
For instance, you may be required to wear either a safety leash around your ankle or calf, wear a personal floatation device (PFD), or both! Check with your rental operator. These devices are for your safety.
If you fall off your SUP in open water, you will be instantly separated from your watercraft. You want to be able to get safely back to your board. Wearing a leash provides you’ll still be attached so you can pull yourself back on to your watercraft.
Will you be provided a lesson on proper paddle technique? Being taught how to get on the board safely, the transition to standing and which way the paddle should face should be part of your briefing.
In open water, your instructor should also brief you on how to get past the surf if there is one, as well as look for the way the water is moving. The ocean wind and waves can change in an instant, so it’s important to know your surrounds so you aren’t swept out to sea.
Typically, in a pool setting, you will have lifeguards on hand. The instructor will brief you on features of the board and things to take into consideration for your safety and the safety of those around you. Because you are attached to a lane line, the boards will be positioned far enough apart that if you do fall in, you’ll be able to climb right back onto your board.
What are their qualifications? Ask your rental operator or yoga teacher for their qualifications.
Are they certified with PaddleFit®, PaddleIntoFitness, WPA (World Paddle Association), ACA (American Canoe Association), or another qualified organization?
You want meticulous and thoughtful instructions to feel safe. If you fall behind or drift, you will want someone there to give personal attention in order to get back safely to the group. Some classes will have a teacher and a safety assistant or sweeper.
Make sure the teacher supports an all-levels standup paddleboard yoga class. Modified postures should be available making the class accessible to beginners who are new to yoga and/or paddleboarding. Experienced practitioners may be offered postures to further challenge their balance.
From my personal experience, I have come in contact with rental operators and yoga teachers on small lakes who barely know how to paddle themselves. They purchased several paddleboards with the plan of renting them to the public with no training and no waiver to sign. Practice safety first. Ask questions so you are not putting yourself in a precarious situation as well as accepting dangerous business practices.
You’ll need a paddleboard, a paddle, a leash and/or a personal floatation device.
Make sure equipment is in good condition and free from damage or holes. The board may be made with a foam core, be an inflatable or be crafted from another kind of material like carbon?
Wear clothes that move freely you don’t mind getting wet. Swimwear is recommended. Spandex and Dri-Fit gear are also ideal. Avoid cotton layers as they don’t dry quickly and can chaff. Don’t forget the sunscreen and a visor or hat.
Slipins make 60+ UPF sun protecting swim and dive wear perfect for SUP Yoga. My favorite is the zippered mini.
Most any time of day is great for SUP yoga. Focusing on the beauty of the water and the nature around you connects you to Mother Nature.
Depending on where you live, early to mid-morning before the day gets too hot may be perfect.
Watch out for midday winds and fluctuations in weather.
Sunset and evening paddleboard yoga classes are beautiful in a well-lit pool or in a calm lake. My favorite place to teach evening SUP yoga classes in the pool is at The Saguaro Scottsdale hosted by Riverbound Sports. The evening glow from the water and the lights around the patio create a serene setting for your yoga practice. Savasana (relaxation pose) is very soothing floating on a paddleboard.
You may even find the occasional moonlight yoga paddleboard class. You’ll be required to use waterproof lights on your board. The event may even give out free neon glow necklaces to make it more fun to see in the dark.
Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga is a fun way to build strength, awareness, and stability in your practice. Asking these questions will ensure you have a safe and enjoyable experience on the water.