The Basics of SUP Yoga

What feels better than standing on your SUP board, gliding over calm waters on a warm, breezy summer day? Doing all this, and then rounding it out with a perfect-form downward facing dog right there on your board, of course.

SUP yoga has soared in popularity as both paddlers and yogis look for new experiences. Long-time stand up paddle boarders may wade into the yoga world for the first time by trying moves on their board, while seasoned yoga veterans are turning to SUP boards for the greater challenge, to hone their technique and enjoy new surroundings.

Here's a breakdown of the basics of SUP yoga for those with experience in either form of exercise.

If You're a Paddler

If you have some experience on a stand up paddle board - or even kayaks - but are a newbie to yoga, you'll want to take a crash course on land before you try it out on your board. This includes learning how to move your body into the appropriate positions, but it also requires understanding that yoga is about more than flexibility and strength - at its core is breathing and technique, and if you aren't familiar with this, SUP yoga could become either frustrating or unfruitful.

If You're Experienced in Yoga

If you have years of yoga under your belt, you may be at a slight advantage. Yogis will only need a basic understanding of how to get around on an SUP to start doing their workouts on water. Once you've taken a few practice laps around the dock, you'll be set to head out to open water for a breathtaking new kind of workout.

So why SUP yoga?

Regardless of your background in either paddling or yoga, there are a few central reasons why combining the two is taking off.

Technique Doing yoga on terra firma is certainly beneficial, but even experienced yogis may gain better insight into their technique by switching to the board. For example, you'll learn even more about your body's balancing abilities. Staying center on the board - whether you're on one foot, two feet or any other part of your body - becomes even more important than simply staying center on your mat in the gym.You'll quickly become aware of any tendencies to lean one way or another, considering the board itself will shift if your balance is off. The lighthearted threat of falling into the drink will serve as a strong reminder to correct your stance the second time around.

Increased Strength and Better Posture SUP yoga adds a new unstable element to your routine - the foundation of your workout. To compensate for a wobbly surface, you'll have to tighten your core a bit more than you would on the ground. Even if this isn't a noticeable difference on the board, it's certainly happening, and your workout will be all the more productive as a result. Similarly, you'll notice that focusing on posture will make it easier to stay balanced, and combined with improved core strength, you'll see marked improvement in your overall performance and technique.

The Experience Keeping calm, maintaining steady breathing and clearing your mind are all staples of the yoga experience, and what better way to improve that than to be a part of nature as you do it? Everything from the lapping sounds of the water to the vistas common to coastal areas, rivers or lakes can help you get into a meditative state.{Insert awesome picture of peaceful SUP yoga on a lake}

Your First Position

Once you're comfortable with the basics of yoga and stand up paddle boarding independent of each other, you'll want to try a few of the most basic and stable positions first.

Downward facing dog is one of the most stable poses you can do on a board, so you may want to start here. Once you've found a calm area, lay your stand up paddle across the top of your board, and go into the pose with your legs spread slightly more than they would be on land. Once they're pressed against the board, this goes for your palms, too.

If you're comfortable with this, you could try the bow pose as your next move. Once you get into position, you'll be amazed at what your surroundings look like from a water-level view. Other poses to try first include the warrior, the bridge and the triangle pose.{Insert picture of someone doing one of these positions}

Know Before You Go

1. Expect to Get Wet Even if you're a fantastic paddler or have been doing yoga for years, SUP yoga is something new entirely – you’re most likely going to end up in the water. But remember, falling off is just part of the experience. Wear a swimsuit or water-friendly clothing. Embrace it as a fun and refreshing way to learn how to do your next pose better. 2. Think Minimal It may make sense to wear a hat or sunglasses if you're going to be out on the water, but the more you bring, the more you're going to have to keep up with. This goes for water, too. If you're going to bring a bottle of water, be sure you have a way to strap it to your board. 3. Keep an Open Mind SUP yoga is meant to add a new degree of difficulty to your regular routine, but it's also meant to make the experience a better one overall. If you can't get the hang of it right away, take a break to practice your breathing, relax on your board and take in the scenery.

This is only a simple introduction into the world of SUP yoga. Each activity has it's own entire world of outdoor gear, strategies and skills, and when you bring the two together, it's a fitness program unlike anything else.