Outdoor yoga is a favorite activity of mine as is time on the water. So if you put them together you get SUP Yoga. This blog is a repost from Athleta’s Chi Blog. It is a great overview of some basic poses you can try on the water. Be well everyone and keep paddling!
Be prepared to get wet. At the very least, your feet will touch the water as you launch the board from the beach or shore, so don’t be afraid. When getting onto the paddleboard, focus on the center of the board (where the handle is located). Take one knee onto the paddleboard, then the other knee onto the board so that you are on hands-and-knees or Table Pose. Take a moment to make sure that you’re centered on the board and patiently adjust accordingly.
The center of the board is the most stable place for your body to be so it’s important to make sure your body is centered on the board in each pose.
Honor your body, let go of judgment and comparison, and begin your practice with an open heart and patient mind.
This posture is a key transitioning and foundational pose. On all fours, your wrist and shoulders are stacked with hands the shoulder-width apart. Fingers fanned out. Your knees and hips are stacked with your knees a hip-width apart. Elongate your neck and spine/belly space, with your gaze down between your hands. Your head, shoulders, and pelvis are in one line, parallel with the board. Keep a softening in between the shoulders and start to tighten up your belly space.
From table pose, drop your pelvis back to your heels. Reach your hands towards the top of the board as you lower your forehead down to connect with the board. Those with knee issues, focus more on the reach of the hands towards the top of the board and keep the pelvis up higher instead of dropping it back to the heels.
Child’s pose is a pose of physical surrender and a good place to go when you need to check-in mentally.
Be free of distractions, fears, and anxiety. Instead focus on the present moment; your body on the board, floating safely on the peaceful water.
#3 Downward-Facing Dog Pose
From table pose, curl your toes under. Start to sit your pelvis back almost as if you’re preparing for child’s pose, then lift your knees off the board and raise the pelvis as high as you can towards the sky. Crown of the head points between the hands. Your gaze falls to the center of the board. Shoulder blades flush with the ribcage. If the hamstrings are tight, simply keep abandon the knees as you enter downward-facing dog pose.
#4 Plank Pose
From table pose, practice just stepping your right foot to the end of the board, into a modified plank. Replace the right knee back to table pose, then try stepping the left foot back to the end of the board. When you’re ready for a full plank from your foundation of table pose, step the feet back, keep the muscles around your navel and spine fired up. Nothing changes about the torso space from table to plank pose. Your navel is still directly center aligned. The gaze is still between the hands. This posture will challenge your core a bit more than table pose. Make sure the booty and thighs are fired up and the center of your body is working for you not against you.
Simply put, engage your core.
#5 Cobra Pose
From plank pose, slowly lower down onto your belly, hearts, and chin keeping the hands right next to the rib cage. Your navel should be center aligned. Set your gaze forward, start to elongate your neck space, and lift/open your heart forward where your gaze is set. Press your tailbone down as your heart shines forward. Your collarbone should be smiling forward, as well. For low cobra pose, you will use just the strength of your back to lift into the bend. For high cobra pose, the arms can assist the lift. Keep the elbows close to the side bodies and don’t lock or hyperextend your arms. For both variations of the pose, keep your shoulder blades flush to the rib cage.
#6 Forward-Fold Pose
From downward-facing dog with bent knees, begin to walk the feet as close to the handle as you can. Then walk your hands as close to the feet as you can. Your feet should be hip-width apart at the center of the board. Place your palms on the board at the outside of the feet. If you have tight hamstrings or lower back issues, modify the pose by bending your knees, just like in downward-facing dog. Point the crown of the head down at the board and the pelvis up high to the sky. Your gaze is at back through the legs. Try to connect to your rib cage with the top of the thighs. Again remember you can bend the knees to modify the pose. The wider your stance is on the board, the more stability you’ll have. Also consider taking your hands to the sides of the board and your gaze down at the center for more stability in your forward fold pose.
#7 Mountain Pose
From forward fold, set your gaze at the top of the board and place a bend in the knees. Slowly circle-sweep your arms out and over your head, move your gaze to the horizon that lies in front of you. Connect your palms over your head and either lower your hands to heart center or lower the arms to a 45 degree angle with the arms extended out, palms facing forward, and the fingers fanned out. Stack your masses (head, shoulder & pelvic girdle) by lengthening your spaces (your neck spine/belly). This will help you to engage the core of your neck and torso. Think of reaching through the crown of the head, as you ground/root through the soles of your feet. You can always choose a slight bend in your knees and take a wider stance for more stability. Keep your gaze to the horizon for more support or for more challenge close your eyes.
#8 Relaxation Pose
From a seated position, patiently turn around so you’re facing the back of the board. Take your time to gently, slowly roll back into a supine (on your spine) position with your legs out long and wide. Your head is now resting at the nose of the board. Stretch your arms out long, with the palms facing up towards the sky. Feel free to let your hands and feet relax over the sides of the board into the water. If you’re feeling hot, this is a great way to cool your body down. As you close your eyes, surrender all work and effort of the body. Let your body melt into the board, as the gentle movement of the water rocks you into a peaceful state of tranquility and serenity. For about 5 minutes, rest and reflect on all the goodness of your practice.
What if I fall?
Don’t stress about it! Everyone has the moment where a fall happens. Learning to pull yourself back onto the board is important and everyone should practice at some point. If falling is an overwhelming fear you have, don’t do any of the standing poses until you’re feeling more confident and stay in shallower water.