8 SUP Yoga Poses for Beginners & SUP Yoga Tips

Lindsay Lambert

October 04, 2017


Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga

Yoga is to unite. Breath and movement, prana (life-energy) and asana (poses). Then add fresh outside air in your lungs, cool breeze on your face, warm sun on your skin, and the energy of the water under your board. SUP Yoga takes your favorite yoga routines and put them on the water. Both yoga and stand up paddle boarding are great for building better balance, coordination, endurance, and strength. When you combined them together, it can challenge your core at a whole new level. Taking yoga on the water helps make your land practice that much stronger and fluid. With SUP, whether you’re looking for a fitness paddle or a floating mind-body experience, being on the water with open sky overhead….. Nothing compares.

SUP Yoga Tips

When you're first beginning SUP Yoga, find a calm body of water that's easy to access with your paddle board. Plan on getting wet, and be pleasantly surprised if you don't fall in.

Make sure you have a basic understanding of SUP technique and how to use your gear. Also make sure you have the right safety equipment such as whistle and PFD and know how to use both. It's very important that your stand-up paddle is sized correctly before you start paddling. With the paddle blade on the ground in front of your feet (paddle shaft perpendicular to the ground), your top hand should hold the paddle handle with a slight Bend in the elbow and your bottom hand should hold the paddle shaft with a 90-degree bend. That shows you the correct distance between your hands for paddling.

When launching your paddleboard, make sure you are far enough away from the shore that your fin won't catch but no more than knee deep in water. With SUP paddle in hand, put one knee up onto the board followed by the other straddling the center of the board (where the handle is located).

Once you're on the board take a moment to find your correct hand placement for kneeling paddling. Make sure that you choke down on your paddle when you are paddling on your knees. Only when you are ready to stand up on the board, does your top hand hold your paddle handle.

If you feel nervous about standing or the water isn't as calm as you anticipated, stay on your knees until you're comfortable. When you are ready to stand, keep your paddle in one hand, take your hands down onto the board, replace one knee with one foot then repeat. Before just standing straight up, look out towards the nose of the board and as your chest slowly starts to lift up keep your gaze at the horizon. Do not fully straighten your legs when you stand up, and start paddling immediately. Especially if you start to feel off-balanced. Keep your paddle blade close to the water at all times and learn to use it to keep you from falling.

If you have a worry of falling off the SUP board, it’s best to just get it over with. 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.

Building a SUP Yoga Practice

Never be afraid to get wet! With SUP yoga, you will at least be getting your feet wet as you launch the board from the beach or shore. When getting onto the paddleboard, focus on the center of the board (where the handle is located). Take one knee onto the paddleboard (just under the handle), 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 your centered on the board and patiently adjust accordingly.  The center of the board is the most stable place for your body to be, it is important to make sure your body is centered on the board in each pose. Honor your body, letting go of judgment and comparison, and practicing with an open heart and patient mind.

Below outlines eight basic SUP yoga poses that are great for beginners and anyone with a SUP yoga practice.

#1 Table Pose (the foundation)

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 is 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.

(Add Table pose picture) 

#2 Child’s Pose (resting)

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 (inversion)

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 handle (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 (core work)

From table pose, practice just stepping your right foot to the end of the board, into a modified plank. Replace the right knee, and you are back and table pose. Then try stepping the left foot back to the end of the board. When you are 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 over the handle (centers 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 at the center of your body is working for you not against you. Simply put, engage your core.

#5 Cobra Pose (backbend)

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 on the handle (centers 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. And both variations of the pose keep your shoulder blades flush to the rib cage.)

#6 Forward fold Pose (inversion)

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 hip-width apart at the center (handle) 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 handle (center) for more stability in your forward fold pose.

#7 Mountain Pose (core work)

From forward fold, set your gaze at the top of the board and if you don't already have one 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, 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 Final Relaxation Pose (resting & reflecting)

From a seated position, patiently turn around so you’re facing the back of the board. Take your time to gentle, 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, where there is more volume and most likely still a dry space on 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.

Paddling Yogini Bio

My name is Lindsay Lambert! I grew up in the Bellevue/Issaquah area of Washington state. I’ve been an athlete all of my life, with a 12+ years background in competitive swimming that ultimately lead to my career in teaching. I began teaching aquatic based classes and became a ARC Lifeguarding 18 years ago. Then 7 years ago moved out of the pool to focus on land-based fitness. I practiced Vinyasa, power Flow, mat Pilates, PiYo™, and TRX™ (Suspension Training) for years before pursuing my certifications.

I fell in love with Vinyasa yoga and mat Pilates for the benefits of balance, flexibility, and breath awareness. Now specializing in Ashtanga yoga with a Vinyasa flow, I have a passion for challenging my students and helping them to take their practice to the next level. Inversions, arm balancing, deep bends, and twist are just some of my favorite explorations in practice.

4  years ago, I decided to put my knowledge of water and land based exercise together. Through Bliss Paddle Yoga™ I certified as a Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga instructor and then certified twice as a PaddleFit Core coach through PaddleFit™. I started my own Stand Up Paddle business- Paddling Yogini LLC and  I now paddle, flow, and teach on bodies of water all over the PNW.

As a teacher, my passion is to make a positive impact on students’ lives. I believe through a healthy mind, body, and spirit you can achieve anything. I enjoy teaching all ability levels, beginners to advanced students.  As a mother, I feel a healthy lifestyle should be introduced to children at a young age and encouraged through their lives. I am very passionate about raising my two children and helping them learn to lead healthy lives of their own. I started teaching kids swim lessons over 18 years ago and then began teaching Big Kids and Tween Yoga classes in Issaquah, WA over 4 years ago for my kids to be able to grow their practice.

Just this Fall 2017, I opened my own yoga studio in Issaquah, WA. One Mind Yoga - harmonize mind, body, and inner self! I now have a location where I can offer Vinyasa Flow, Restorative Yin, and Kids/Tween Yoga, as well as TRX Suspension Training and TRX Yoga Fusion. My studio is very welcoming to all walks of life and no matter where you are with your fitness journey, you’ll find support here.

Lindsay Lambert

Owner of Paddling Yogini & One Mind Yoga

SUP Yoga & PaddleFit™ Instructor

TRX Trainer & ARC Lifeguard

www.PaddlingYogini.com


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