Four reasons stand up yoga could be for you
To outsiders, it just seems whacky. Why would you want to twist and contort your body every which way, all while balancing on a paddle board? they may ask. But to those in the know, paddle board yoga is the next big thing in fitness.
And more and more folks are in the know. Long a thing in hotbeds like Florida and the West Coast, the popularity paddle board yoga grows daily anywhere there’s water.
Just ask folks in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. There, Sandy Bliss, the owner of Floating Bliss Up Yoga, says, “I think everyone should try it, it’s an amazing feeling and you feel happy inside.”
That’s a pretty nice endorsement. But if it’s not enough to convince you that paddle board yoga is for you, we’ve come up with four reasons the practice is fantastic.
It exposes you to the beauty of nature
Anyone who has been out on the water knows how perspective-shifting the experience is. It just seems like time slows down, tension drains away, and breathing just becomes easier. Yoga has the same effect for many people.
“Paddling is like a metaphor for life,” Lisa Curtis, 29-year-old entrepreneur, tells the Wall Street Journal. “It teaches you to find your center even amidst the waves. And the worst that happens is you fall in the water. It’s good to do something that keeps you a bit on the edge.”
Dashama, the international paddle board yoga instructor who says she was the first to post a video about the practice, also touts the benefits of getting out in nature.
“Learn to appreciate nature in a new way and break through any fears you have of deep water. I love to stand on a yoga board or be in a pose and look into the water to see fish, dolphins, whales or other sea life living beneath me,” she writes. “It is so awesome and exciting! I am a water lover from birth, so that helps. If you have a fear of ocean, water or sea life, this can also help you to break through your fears. You are safe, and they are below you doing their thing, and you have the protection of the board to keep you afloat. And when you are in many of the poses, you are looking at the blue sky! It is very uplifting to see the sky and birds above you.”
It improves your outlook
At the same time, yoga’s mental benefits are well-known. Studies have shown yoga boosts mental alertness and even IQ. It also helps quell mental loops of frustration, anger and stress, and can aid you getting through the inevitable changes in life.
“(Paddle board yoga) was the perfect break from the stress of getting a startup off of the ground, and way more exciting than running,” Curtis says. “Trying to do downward-facing dog or side plank on a board instantly erases any work thoughts.”
Putting water and the meditative side of yoga together in paddle board yoga makes all the sense in the world. As Herman Melville wrote, “Yes, as everyone knows, meditation and water are wedded forever.”
It’s a great workout
As an entrepreneur just getting her company off the ground, Curtis faced a true time-crunch. One solution was to combine her two favorite exercise routines. The bonus is that paddle board yoga is a fantastic workout.
“It was the perfect break from the stress of getting a startup off of the ground, and way more exciting than running,” she says. “Trying to do downward-facing dog or side plank on a board instantly erases any work thoughts.”
Los Angeles-based Equinox yoga instructor Dice Iida-Klein saw benefits from taking his practice on the water.
“I’m completely hooked on it,” Dice tells the Equinox Q blog, “When you’re on the board, you’re at the mercy of the wind and the water, and it makes you appreciate the solidity of the mat so much more. The challenge that it ads is humbling. It’s amazing.”
Beyond the health benefits of being in the outdoors, there are plenty of workout benefits, writes Dashama.
“When you take the practice of yoga out on a paddle board, you increase the challenge. You no longer have the grounded stillness of the earth to root down into, so you are forced to recruit your core stabilizer muscles,” she writes. “With that, you get a more challenging workout. The technique is a bit different from traditional yoga, and we have certain poses and sequences that flow better than others. But for the most part, you can do many of the same poses on a yoga board, and it just forces you to step up your game and get better, improve and advance your balance skills and tap into the root that is at the core of the earth, much farther below. Not to mention, you have to paddle in and out, and that in itself is a great core workout.”
Anyone can do it
Floating Bliss Up Yoga in Wisconsin writes on its website that it offers classes for beginners to advanced practitioners.
“If you can balance, you can stand up paddle (SUP),” the paddle board yoga company writes. “If you can breathe, you can yoga. There is absolutely no need for you to have prior experience of SUP or Yoga, we’ll teach you everything you need to know. You’ll challenge your balance, stretch your body, breathe deeply and relax completely.”
Dashama says she has taught paddle board yoga to people of all ages, from toddlers to people over 70.
“This is the amazing part about it,” she writes. “Unlike other board sports, it doesn’t really take much technical skill. With time and practice, you will get stronger and better to be able to do more advanced poses. If you can do a yoga pose on land, for the most part, you can eventually learn to do that on the board. It takes you out on the water, but requires much less equipment and training than other board sports. Unlike Kite boarding or kayaking, which require more equipment or are big and bulky, a yoga board is actually not to heavy and is relatively easy to transport.”
Buy an anchor for paddle board yoga here.