I’ve been around paddlers and yogis for over 20 years and I’ve heard ‘hardcore’ paddlers make fun of SUP yoga and yogis treat it as a novelty fad. I always say: ‘Don’t dis it until you’ve tried it!’ BTW, why is it so easy for humans to dis stuff we haven’t tried?
The health, body and wellness benefits of SUP yoga are many and below I share my top 3 reasons to try SUP yoga:
More Core, Fewer Imbalances
SUP Yoga is an effective way to bring greater awareness to imbalances in the body and learn how to effectively engage our core for power, strength and ease. When you’re working harder to balance in a pose you start to recognize what muscles tend to take over and what habit patterns your body defaults to in your regular practice.
For example, on land it may be easy for you to lean back in poses like side angle stretch or triangle, but if you shift your weight back when practicing these poses on a board you’ll fall in pretty quickly!
When you practice SUP yoga, you learn to press down through the feet and actually engage your core, instead of compensating by leaning back. Once you’ve cultivated that awareness you can apply it to your regular practice on land, moving toward optimal alignment, increased power, and reducing the risk of injury.
Manage Your Stress Better
If we freak out about every bug that lands on us or get startled by noises that we hear while practicing outside, that is a cue that our stress response may be stuck on high alert. Everything in nature pulses and a healthy nervous system also pulses between activation (sympathetic) and resting (parasympathetic).
In our culture a lot of us are stuck in activation because the ‘threats’ of deadlines, obligations, bills etc… don’t ever go away and are always in the background. The result is that many people live with chronic stress that can lead to disease in the body.
Managing our stress by using strategies and tools that bring our nervous system down into relaxation and resting is extremely beneficial for our health.
The extra effort it takes us to balance in SUP yoga cultivates a powerful one-pointed focus that brings our attention to the present moment. The background threats drop away and we experience freedom in the moment, even while exerting effort.
Yoga on the water offers us the mindfulness practice of being present and not reacting when insects land on you, or you hear a fish jump, or hear voices in the distance. It’s powerful to be with life as it is without letting your attention get hijacked by distractions.
Finally, relaxation pose in SUP yoga is THE ultimate way to relax. Floating with nothing more to do and the warmth of the sun on your skin promotes deep relaxation. In this way SUP yoga is a good strategy for growing our stress resilience by helping our nervous system remember to pulse.
The discovery of deeper connection through SUP yoga is beneficial for us, for our communities and for the health of the planet.
Stop Talking About Nature and Get Out In It!
Yoga teachers often refer to nature and our connection with each other and the world around us. Instead of just talking about that connection, SUP yoga gets you outside andembodying that connection.
Practicing outside gives you an opportunity to connect with the truth that WE ARE nature. That we are all interconnected with each other and with all beings who call the planet home. This is an easy shift to make when the water is the floor and the sky the ceiling of the yoga ‘studio!’