Are you ready to take your fitness to the next level? It’s time to put on your Coolibar gear and try SUP Yoga – yoga done on a stand up paddle board. Coolibar Athlete Krista Kennedy talks about her love for this practice and provides her advice for those interested in getting started.
Yes you read this correctly, yoga on a stand up paddle board! Increase your flexibility balance and strength all with one workout. Don’t be fooled — this looks easy, but I can tell you it is far from it.
The creator of SUP Yoga is still up for debate, although the first recording of this new craze was posted by Kathy Holesapple with Paddle to the Core in Las Vegas, on her Facebook page in early 2009. Being an avid paddle board enthusiast and instructor since 2008, Kathy thought it would be a challenge to try some of her yoga poses on her board. She invited a friend and shortly after introduced classes. Now, SUP Yoga classes are popping up near water all over the U.S.!
For those interested, I highly recommend gaining a base knowledge of yoga on solid ground. You should know what poses you are comfortable with on the ground prior to trying them on a board. It’s not as easy as just falling in the water if you mess up. The extra balance and strength required to complete the poses on a board can cause injury if you are not properly prepared. I would highly recommend taking a class! The SUP Yoga classes at Paddle to the Core in Lake Las Vegas are so much fun and affordable (visit www.suplv.com for a class schedule)! Look for classes in an area near you where an instructor can supervise and instruct you while doing the poses.
Okay, so you have taken a few yoga classes and you are ready to try SUP Yoga. First get to know your board, find your balance. Then start with poses that allow you to have both of your hands and feet on the board as this gives you more stability. Important things to remember when dong these poses are to take your time, go slowly into each pose, feel your balance and then push yourself further into the stretch when you exhale. The poses I recommend for beginners are:
Downward Dog: As seen here, this pose will stretch your hamstrings and calves while working on the strength of your arms, shoulders and upper back. While in this pose you should let your heels drop towards the board with the goal to eventually get your heels to touch the board. At the same time you will push your tailbone to the sky with straight arms and back. Once you are comfortable with this pose you can add a variation by raising one leg and then the other. This will add another element of core strengthening and muscle work.
Upward Dog: In this pose it is important to remember to push your shoulders down to elongate your neck and when you feel you are ready push your arms straight to lift your upper thighs off the board. This pose is great for both stretching and working out multiple muscle groups!
Pigeon: (My favorite stretching pose!) As you begin this pose, keep your foot close underneath you. As you advance into the stretch you will move your foot away from your body to create a 90 degree angle. (If you don’t feel this stretch, you are most likely not doing it correctly! Adjust or seek yoga instruction).
Camel: The demonstration pictured here shows a variation of camel with one arm stretching back. To begin, keep both hands on your ankles until you are confident with the stretch, balance and strength needed.
Other beginning poses include: Child’s Pose, Cat and Cow, Plank and Dolphin Plank. These poses can be completed in sequence; however, you should create a series of poses that are comfortable for you. As you become more relaxed with these poses, you may add variations to increase the difficulty level. There are also poses that will require you to test your balancing skills by taking a hand or foot off the board. These poses are more advanced, so I recommend that you only try them with the supervision of a certified instructor.
SUP Yoga is a great workout that focuses on all aspects of fitness, and if you love the outdoors as I do, SUP Yoga is the perfect way to enjoy both!
Coolibar Athlete and Lover of SUP Yoga
Disclaimer: The information provided by Coolibar and its contributors is general information and should not be a substitute for obtaining professional advice.