7 tips to get you into SUP Yoga this summer!
Our Ambassador and SUP Yoga instructor, Nicole Capra, takes a time out for us to break down some basics about SUP Yoga. The mother of 3 daughters and Matriarch of the WaterFam, offers up some bite size morsels to help you take the first step.
What is SUP yoga? SUP yoga stands for Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga. It’s practicing yoga with a floating mat and it’s a beautiful experience. I highly recommend it. But stepping outside of your comfort zone can sometimes be a little intimidating and you may not know where to start. If it is something you are already considering, you may have a few questions. How do I find a SUP yoga class? What do you wear? Do you need to know how to paddle? Do I need to bring my own board? How do I not float away? Do you have to be an experienced yogi? And what if you can’t do everything the instructor says to do?
I would be happy to clarify some things you may need to know before starting your first floating yoga class.
Where to look for a class this summer?
Google your area. Check out local SUP shops and yoga studios. Social media often offers information for SUP yoga classes near you. There are often classes offered through hotels and resorts as well. Ask around. There are more classes available than you may know.
What to wear?
Wear what you feel good in. If you feel comfortable in yoga pants and a tank top then rock that. If you feel confident stretching and moving in a bikini then I recommend you wear that. Just be prepared to wear something that you wouldn’t mind getting wet. There are some great yoga pants, like Teeki or Zuvi, that have the ability to dry in about 10min, so they don’t leave you feeling like a soggy yogi for the whole class if you happen to fall in. Ultimately, wear what you like. It’s a simple as that.
Do you need to know how to paddle?
While knowing how to paddle is helpful, it’s not necessary. Each class generally begins with a brief tutorial on how to paddle. Just enough to keep you afloat and get you to your destination. The instructor will explain the parts of the board and paddle and will review what area of the board will be best to support you as you move through your yoga practice. Being comfortable on the water is helpful for a SUP yoga class. If you have a fear of falling in, it creates stress. That doesn’t need to hinder your practice however, it can actually serve a purpose. It can serve as a means of learning to let go. The worst that can happen during class is that you fall in, get wet, and get back on the board. Usually, after a student falls, they no longer hold back and begin to press the boundaries of their comfort zone just a little further. It’s wonderful to watch a student physically “let go” and flow through practice.
Do you need your own board?
No. If you have a board, it’s best if it is a little wider for stability. If not, most places offer board rentals with the class. When registering for a class just let the instructor or studio know that you will need a board along with the class. If you want to try your own board then feel free to bring it along. A good instructor will let you know if they think your board will work for yoga or not. I have found that inflatable boards are great for yoga classes. Something like Tahoe SUPs YoFit inflatable board is just perfect. They are buoyant, board, and provide a softer landing if you happen to fall.
How do you stay put?
Most instructors/studios provide anchors for the boards. Some even offer a floating dock that you can lock into. Either option gives the student the opportunity to plant themselves in one spot and flow carefree through class without needing to constantly paddle back over to the instructor. In order to be hooked to either the anchor or floating dock the board must have a means of attachment. The YoFit, for example, has a handle or hook that is easily linked to either the dock or anchor from either end of the board.
Do you need to be well versed in yoga?
No, you really do not. SUP yoga provides a perfect opportunity to learn how to hold poses or asanas properly. It’s easy to “fake” a posture in a studio. It’s quite difficult to do the same on the water. When your mat moves with each shift of your weight, you learn how to properly ground down through your feet or hands and how to hold yourself and breathe, as needed, to execute the pose. SUP yoga provides wonderful building blocks for the start of a healthy yoga practice, on or off the water.
Afraid you can’t keep up?
Fear not! That is the beauty of floating yoga. You are quite literally in your own space, to practice within your means, as you feel necessary and as you feel comfortable. Yoga itself is a personal practice. It is not a competition or a race. What one person is comfortable doing, or how one person looks may be as far removed from what you yourself may look like or be ready to do. Listen to your body as you move and flow. Be your own guide! Use the instructor for direction, motivation, and connection. Let the instructor lead you through a class where you feel free to make adjustments and alteration as needed. On land or on the water, that is the ultimate goal of a yoga teacher. We all want our students to connect with themselves; uniting their breath and movements, moving with intention, and causing no harm.
One of the best things about SUP yoga is that each and every experience is different. And it’s just that; an experience. A chance to spread your wings and test your limits. Don’t be afraid to step outside the box. If you are interested or toying around with the idea of attending a SUP yoga class, I strongly encourage it! They say that life begins at the end of your comfort zone. I think that’s because that is where the magic happens.