SUP Yoga: The Right Stand Up Paddle Board

In the previous post, I mentioned that I saw someone doing yoga on a stand up paddle board. It was bound to happen and as I’ve found out, it is relatively widespread. As Hilary Kimblin, owner of Yoga Under the Trees in Beverly Hills, CA recently told Yoga Journal: “When it’s (yoga) practiced outdoors it seems like the union with nature, humanity, and the universe is truly felt.” Apparently, that union with nature is twice as impactful when yoga is done on a stand up paddle board.

So what do you need to know before you begin doing yoga on a stand up paddle board?

First thing you’ll need to be is capable of swimming. It should go without saying but in case you weren’t aware, once you begin focusing on your inner self, you might lose track of the water depth. If you are unsure of your water skills, wear a flotation device. It won’t restrict your movements.

So what kind of board do you need if this is your goal?

A few of you may be looking at a paddle board for this single purpose. But most of you will be looking for a multi-functional board that allows you to experience the other cool features that only standing on liquid can provide.

yoga board

Stand on Liquid Namaste Board

First thing you’ll need to look for is length. In most instances, eleven feet is about as long as most beginners or yoga practitioners will need. If the board is too long, it may be purposed for another type of paddle boarding, such as touring. Those boards tend to be designed for more water displacement. This refers to the way the underside of the board is shaped. The underside of the board on a touring board is designed to channel water from the nose to the tail while getting the most distance with each stroke. This is not what you want in a board used for yoga.

The long board you choose should be relatively flat on both the deck and on the underside. With a flatter underside, your stability is increased for stationary poses. It also helps with balance. You will fall into the water as you discover some of the on-land mistakes you may have been making. Once on the water, these imbalances will get you wet.

What other features are important?

Once I started asking around about yoga on the water, I found a very enthusiastic crowd among the ladies. If you are of the female persuasion, the weight of the board is a consideration. It should be relatively light, weighing no more than 30 lbs.

You will want a mid-section to tail deck that is laid edge to edge. Even more important is how the handle is designed. It should be fully recessed into the board. Since you may be a beginner, you will want to be sure that your board has a self-regulating vent. The vent protects the core from overheating (while the board is on the beach on on the roof rack) and from changes in air pressure (going over higher elevations to get to the water). An adequate number of strap downs is a big plus as well.

How do yoga boards do for other stand up paddle boarding activities?

These types of stand up paddle boards provide the beginner or yoga enthusiast a decent experience. They may not track as well as some touring boards (it’s that displacement thing) and might not be the best board for paddle surfing, but the experience is nonetheless epic.

Yoga may be 5,000 year old tradition that unites mind and body, adding water to the experience only increases that intensity of each asansa you attempt. Any imbalances will be easy to identify and correct. Your breathing will take on a new aspect as you allow the gentle lapping of the water to further soothe your mind.

Even if you have some experience on land with this ancient art form, you might want to locate an instructor for your first time out. And once you experience the stand on liquid yoga experience, you’ll probably toss that mat for the summer.

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