Can I try SUP Yoga without any previous yoga experience?

Q:

Can I try SUP Yoga without any previous yoga experience?

A:

SUP yoga, that is, doing yoga whilst balancing on a paddle board, is becoming more and more popular, and it’s easy to see why. It combines the excitement and unpredictability of paddle-boarding with the control and mindful movement of yoga. But do you need to have experience in yoga to give it a go?

The quick answer is no. As long as you’re reasonably fit and healthy, chances are you’ll have an enjoyable time on the water whether you have thirty years of solid yoga practice or you only heard the words “downward facing dog” today.

There are many great SUP schools out there, with experienced instructors who are skilled at cueing yoga poses for beginners and more experienced yogis, whilst understanding how balancing on a paddle board changes the practice. A good instructor will always give precise guidance for how to get into the poses and hold them without tipping yourself into the blue! Not that falling into the water is necessarily a bad thing - the odd tumble is all part of the SUP Yoga fun, and participants are often given life vests for this very reason.

What are the differences between SUP Yoga and normal yoga? Well, aside from the obvious, stand up paddle boards are bigger than your average yoga mat and may even be large and buoyant enough to more than one person. This means that poses, such as downward facing dog (where your hands and feet are on the ground, or the board in this case), may be easier than you expect.

However, the fact that you’re floating on the water does create extra challenge, even for experienced yogis, because of the extra balance, body awareness and core engagement required. Warrior 2 for example, a relative simple posture when on dry land, becomes a whole new experience on a paddle board! This isn’t a bad thing though - it will help you develop your proprioception, engagement and core stability, which are beneficial on and off the paddle board.

(Learn more in Core Strengthening: Boost Your Abdominals with this 15-Minute Yoga Sequence.)

Another advantage of coming to SUP Yoga as a complete yoga novice is that you have no preconceived ideas about what you should do or how you should do it. You’ll find it easier to adopt a beginner’s mindset, and this more open approach can be really rewarding. Part of the philosophy of yoga is learning how to appreciate the work you do without attachment to the “fruits” of that work. That is, you practice without concern for how good or “successful” you are. SUP Yoga can therefore be a great introduction to this mindful yoga practice and healthy detachment from results.

All that said, some experience in yoga, even just a little, will certainly help you overcome any initial nerves. If you at least know the names and forms of some of the basic poses, it can make it easier to find your way into them on the board. Taking a beginner’s course or even trying a few online yoga classes for beginner’s can be great preparation for your SUP Yoga class, but they aren’t essential.

(Learn more in a Fundamental Yoga Sequence for Beginners.)

Whether you’re an experienced yogi, or a complete newbie, SUP yoga is a great activity, giving you the chance to explore both the physical and mindful aspects of yoga combined with the playfulness of being on the water. Give it a go and enjoy! It’s not often after all that we get to try something completely new.

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Written by Jade Lizzie
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Jade is a yoga teacher, blogger and health and wellness geek. Her mission is to share the happiness that yoga has brought into her life.

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