Summer is here and the latest fitness trend is Standup Paddle Board Yoga or otherwise known as SUP Yoga! If you have never heard of it, just go on any beach and you will see many people on these surfboard looking objects, floating on the ocean or lakes, but instead of catching waves, they are on still water and have a paddle. Although they probably won’t be hanging ten, you may find them in a warrior pose on in a head stand.
This sport is perfect for all ages and although it does require balance, with a little practice, even the most uncoordinated can eventually get up. It’s a great way to get on the water without having to be the next Kelly Slater.
When I first heard of this new fad in fitness two summers ago, I knew had to try it. I love yoga and anything to do with warm weather and water. This combination seemed so logical. Yoga on the water while being one with nature, to me, is the best form of practice you can have.
It was super new two years ago, but I was lucky enough to find a surf shop in my home state of New Hampshire, called Cinnamon Rainbows , that offered a SUP tour. This tour included a rental of a standup paddle board, a wet suit and an hour and a half instruction. They did not however, instruct SUP Yoga. I figured that this was okay, since I probably should learn the basics first anyway before trying to do a sun salutation on the board, in the ocean.
The instructor first did an orientation on the sand, explaining how to get up, safety tips and where we were allowed to paddle. Then we all grabbed our boards and headed out in the water. We started out on our knees, since it was the easiest way to balance and get used to paddling. He told us if we felt ready and wanted to we could try standing up. I was with my daughter and her best friend, both 15, and we all looked at each other and I said, ” LET’S DO THIS!”
Each one of us, one by one, slowing got up. My legs were shaking as slight waves came by, I could feel myself losing balance. The instructor yelled, “Keep your head up and bend your knees!”, as the waves approached. My daughter’s friend fell, so I instantly jumped in to get her. She was scared because the current was pushing her into an area of rocks. I was scared because I was responsibly for her and didn’t want anything to happen to her. I grabbed her arm and held her board so that she could get back on. She climbed back on, and I did on mine, and we continued. By the end of the lesson, we all felt pretty confident and it seemed very easy to catch on.
Driving home we discussed that for the first time for someone new, it would probably be best on a lake or the ocean where it is very still water. That way you would be able to feel the board and how to balance without the extra unsteadiness of waves. I was in love! All I wanted to do was rent a board again, if not buy one and try YOGA on it.
One month later, as fate would have it, I was headed to the Wanderlust yoga festival in Mt. Stratton Vermont for the weekend, and they offered a SUP Yoga class. When I saw it on the roster of classes, I screamed to my husband that we HAD to try it! I assured him that he would absolutely love it!
We took the class as planned with 13 other excited yogis, many who were like me and have just been introduced to this wonderful new twist on yoga. The instructors did the same type of instruction, first on the land and then on the water. Once we all got the feel of it, one instructor started having us try different yoga poses. If we didn’t feel comfortable or ready for SUP Yoga, she said we could just paddle instead.
We were definitely ready. We started out simple, like child pose, some seated postures, then did few downward facing dogs, into a sun salutation. Each of us took our time, as we could tell, our usual yoga routine has just been amped up a notch! It was harder and more fun and it felt so challenging yet so calming on the water. We were on a reservoir at the base of Mt. Stratton and seeing the mountain peaks, all of the trees and hearing the birds chirping was just perfect. I was obsessed!
Later that night I talked to my husband about how much I loved it and wanted to possibly buy one. He thought it was a good idea too, since he thought it was also great, but all depending on the cost. We DO live in New Hampshire, and wouldn’t have that many months to be able to use it.
When we got home we searched the internet to find out the cost of Stand Up Paddle Boards. To our surprise, they were extremely expensive. The least expensive one we saw was for $1,500!! That was definitely NOT in our budget. I was a little bummed out, but knew it would be crazy for us to buy at this time. Plus, I could always rent them down at the beach or lake for a very reasonable rate.
November came and it was our anniversary, so we spent a long weekend in Key West, Florida. Wouldn’t you know it, they had SUP rentals. Of coarse, we tried it again and it was even nicer, being in the warm, Florida ocean at Smather’s Beach. We saw from little kids to little old ladies on paddle boards all around us, and each looked equally happy and seemed to be having a great time. We even saw one man fishing off one.
Christmas came and I was totally shocked that my husband surprised me with a used Stand Up Paddle Board!! I was so excited but then felt so guilty. I was worried he had spent too much. He said it was deal he couldn’t pass up. He got it at Cinnamon Rainbows in North Hampton Beach ,NH (the same place I first tried SUP) for $500.00 and he took me there on Christmas Eve to pick it up. It wasn’t brand new, but it was totally perfect for me. The owner also said if we ever wanted to upgrade, he would have us do a trade-in and give us a $500 credit towards another board. Sweet! I was stoked!!
Spring came and I went on our lake in town in April. It was freezing, but I didn’t care. I just had to make sure I didn’t fall or else I would get hypothermia. My husband and I got on it together and realized that this wasn’t going to work. You really can’t have two people of one board, there’s just no room, especially if you want to also do yoga on it.
I started going out on the lake by myself and then sometimes he would join, or my friends and family would. We would just take turns. It wasn’t ideal, but it is what we had and it was better than not having one at all.
By the next summer, my husband’s parents knew how much we loved SUP, but felt bad that we only had one. They ended up buying us another one, brand new! We were so surprised and felt like it was far too much for them to be spending on us. They insisted and said it made them very happy to do it. They think that the sport is really cool and looks fun, although they have yet to try it themselves.
This summer we broke out the boards for the first time on the fourth of July. I plan on using them a lot and I still am as excited as I was on the first day I tried it. Our dog even loves it and comes with us every time we go. I love that we have two now so that if I want to bring my husband or a friend or let my kids and their friends borrow it, that they can do it together.
I’m bringing my friend on Friday to have her try it out. I am convinced that she will fall in love with SUP too. I may not be showing her how to do head stand quite yet, but I know she will love just paddling around and enjoying the little summer we have here in New England.
I’m so glad they came up with this sport. I think that it combines fun with a workout that you don’t even realize you are getting. When it comes to SUP Yoga, it brings your practice to a whole new level. The balance is very different and helps you strengthen your core more than during a regular yoga practice. The paddling also helps to strengthen your upper and lower body. After your first time trying SUP, you may have soreness in places you didn’t expect.
If you are interested in trying SUP, google SUP rentals, and you will find places from coast to coast renting SUP’s and giving lessons for prices as low as $25.00 for a half day. It’s a great way to see if you like it before purchasing and a perfect day spent on the water.
Today, resorts offer SUP/ Yoga retreats all over the world. Before there were just Surf/Yoga retreats that some may feel they wouldn’t be able to participate in, where as SUP /Yoga is less intimidating, and can be done by almost anyone. Since I am already a certified yoga instructor (200 hour RYT), I thought about taking the course to become a SUP Yoga instructor, but then the more I thought about my current location on the map, maybe not? If I lived in California or Florida I would for sure, but for now I’ll just enjoy SUP Yoga myself on the limited days I have until the summer ends. Namaste.