It may not look like it when you see someone gliding across a calm body of water against a backdrop of serene wetland and trees, but piloting a standup paddleboard (SUP) is hard work. The core strengthening and torso defining movements required of balancing on feet while paddling has fitness enthusiasts flocking to the sport.
Stepping up their game, some even add yoga moves to their SUP horizons. Yoga instructors around the country and in our neck of the woods are swapping out paddleboards for yoga mats and water for the floor in classes where students flow through yoga asanas and find extreme poise in the great outdoors.
Speaking from experience, I can tell you that in no other form of yoga will the surface provide more feedback. The undulating resistance of the water under the paddleboard defines your balance as well as your abs. Plus, the mindful focus it requires is cathartic. You simply cannot do your shopping list or think about how you’re going to get the kids to their playdates while moving into warrior two on a paddleboard. Try it. I dare you. Bring a towel if you do.
Then there’s savasana, also known as corpse pose, already one of the most relaxing postures in yoga. The sounds of water gently lapping against the underside of the board while you float with your arms stretched out on the surface creates a state of peacefulness you’ve not known since the womb.
SUP in STL
SUP classes and rentals are available on most any body of water bigger than a bathtub around St. Louis — pools, ponds, lakes, and even the Mississippi River. Alpine Shop and Creve Coeur Lake Rentals are popular options for “traditional” paddleboarding.
For yogis and yoginis, SUP St. Louis hosts instructor-led SUP yoga lessons, some with paddling time afterward. These classes are held in various locations, including River’s Edge Park in Chesterfield and Simpson Lake in Valley Park, Missouri.
Find Sunset SUP Yoga at one of the largest natural lakes in Missouri, Creve Coeur Lake, on Tuesday nights throughout the summer months. After class, paddle a bit on and snap some photos of your pose posse.
Boathouse Paddle Co. in Forest Park offers SUP yoga at sunset every Monday and Wednesday during the summer on Post-Dispatch Lake. Grab a beverage and a bite to refuel after your vinyasa flow just steps from the water at the Boathouse.
Even REI and the Gateway Region YMCA have gotten in on the trend, with past demos and sessions at area pools.
If you’ve ever wanted to get your feet wet with SUP yoga, this summer makes the perfect time to give it a try. Worried about falling in? Don’t be. It happens to everyone, and it’s all part of the fun. Go ahead and jump into this amazing activity with both feet!
SUP Yoga Tips
- Consider wearing water-resistant workout clothing rather than a skimpy swimsuit.
- Pick a board that’s long and wide for extra stability.
- Start on your knees and get used to the feel of the board moving under you.
- Find the center of the board and stay low when you (slowly, carefully) stand.
- Keep your eyes on a fixed point on land and practice mindful breathing to stay focused.
- Don’t forget the sunscreen and (floating) sunglasses to fight off damaging rays.
Author: Debby Siegel, MSA, RYT