Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few years, and I’m not judging, then you have heard at least a little bit about the latest outdoor enthusiast trend called Stand Up Paddle boarding (SUP). Since the arrival of SUP to the United States circa 2005 its popularity has exploded in the last decade! It didn’t take long for yogis to discover this was a great new place to take their practice. Now you can find SUP yoga classes in almost every city and every vacation spot! If you have been living under that rock, it’s time to get out and get on board the SUP Yoga craze. Here are three great reasons to give SUP Yoga a try.
- Your yoga practice will improve. SUP Yoga takes your practice to a whole new level. Obviously, you might be saying. But hear me out. How many times has your yoga teacher asked you to ‘engage your mula bhanda,’ ‘draw your navel up and in,’ ‘wrap your muscles around your bones,’ ‘breathe like it’s your job,’ and other unknown requests that leave you feeling tense and confused about what you’re supposed to be doing and feeling? When you step on your paddle board your body automatically does all of the above! Getting on a paddle board completely changes the way you carry your weight. You are literally gripping the board with your entire body. This is the same kind of energy, solidarity and grounding you would want to feel on your yoga mat. But let’s face it, standing on the ground is not that hard. Well at least not until you start standing on one leg or standing on your hands. The point is, regardless of what you’re doing on the board, you have to pay a little more attention, be a little more present in your body and trust your ability to stay upright. Even going through a warm-up of sun salutations, the first and often most basic yoga flow sequence we learn, can become a very rich, intense and powerful experience on the open water. This will build your confidence on your yoga mat to extend more, go deeper into your postures, try new things and breathe . . . like it’s your job.
- SUP yoga is not as hard as it looks. The boards average anywhere from 9-12 feet long and more than 2 feet wide. It’s not like it’s a 4 inch wide balance beam. You have ample room to move and explore. Plus, the body is incredibly responsive. When something is hot, or coming at us, we move. When we get a nice warm hug, or something feels good we linger a little longer. It’s the same thing when working on the water. You notice an imbalance right away and adjust. When everything is flowing, you keep going! The best part is that falling in the water is much more fun than falling on land which eliminates a lot of fear. Provided water conditions are mild and free of high boating traffic, you can swim and you have a good guide, preferably a certified yoga instructor, it’s a very safe activity. I took my three boys for the first time when they were 13, 10 and 8 years old. All three were pros by the end of our session and there were no tears! My stepmom even did it. Remember it was Woody Allen who said, ‘Ninety percent of success is just showing up.’ Attitude is everything and you never know until you try.
- SUP Yoga is good for you! Plato said ‘you can learn more about a person in an hour of play than a year of conversation.’ Laughter is the best medicine. There are many health benefits to simply being outdoors, as well. According to a study from the University of Michigan, exploring nature, getting away from technology and just being outside has been linked to improved feelings of positivity and to significantly reducing feelings of stress. Put play and laughter together outside and you are a walking talking poster child for happiness and vitality. We all know a healthy dose of vitamin d has numerous benefits from aiding depression to preventing osteoporosis. In addition to stronger immunity and better health, getting out for some serious SUP yoga playtime will make you feel youthful, strong and super hip because all the cool kids are doing it!
So there you have some inspiration, encouragement and motivation to try SUP yoga. It’s great to do with friends, family, team building or a fun date! Most of all, you leave feeling both energized and peaceful.
About Jenn Bodnar: