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June 13, 2022 10 min read

SUP Yoga

Woman performing a yoga pose on a mako inflatable paddle boards

Paddle boarding is becoming more and more popular with it, so have SUP activities like paddle board yoga. 

If you’re new to the SUP yoga world, we have curated a list of the top 10 SUP yoga poses anyone can do to help you channel your inner yogi, all from the comfort of your SUP.

What is Paddle Board Yoga?

Paddle board yoga is exactly what it sounds like, practicing the sport of yoga on a paddle board. What makes SUP yoga practice so different from your traditional land yoga practice, however, is the fact that you have to find a new level of balance.

On land, practicing yoga, especially the more complex moves, can be quite challenging. Throw a roughly 34” floating platform into the mix, and you have a whole new set of skills to work on. 

Although SUP yoga is a huge step up from land-based yoga, it is a fantastic workout for even the most experienced yogi, and in our opinion, there is nothing more tranquil than practicing yoga poses in a secluded waterway fully immersed by nature. 

What Type of Paddle Board is Best for SUP Yoga?

Man and a woman performing a advanced yoga pose on GILI komodo inflatable paddle boards

You could be the best yogi in the world, but if you don’t equip yourself with the right paddle board, it could all end in disaster.

The best type of stand up paddle board to use is an all-around board like the GILI Komodo or the GILI Meno.

Both the Komodo and Meno are excellent paddle boards for practicing your yoga routine because of their 33”+ wide decks. Out of the two, the Meno takes the upper hand, as its 35” deck will provide the perfect stable platform for you to carry out your SUP yoga poses.

As well as deck width, you want a board that is comfortable. We highly recommend inflatable paddle boards as opposed to hard top boards for SUP yoga, as the soft squishy deck of an inflatable won’t cause you any harm if you happen to fall out of a pose unexpectedly.

We have gone into more detail about which paddle boards are suitable for yoga over on Best Paddle Boards for Yoga: A Comprehensive Guide.

Before You Get Started

Before you head out on your paddle board, there are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Practice paddling before SUP yoga. Our greatest tip before you even think about paddle board yoga poses is to practice your paddling skills first. It’s important to first find your balance on the board without adding in any fancy moves.
  • Stretch first.Although you may not think of yoga as a sport, it is, and like any sport, you need to stretch out your muscles beforehand. Yoga requires muscles all over your body, so while still on land, spend five to ten minutes thoroughly warming up each body part.
  • Take it slow.When you practice yoga on a SUP, you need to pay even more attention to your balance than you would need to on land. Slow your moves down to half the speed you would normally, focusing on your breath and balance in the process.
  • Look to the horizon. If you’ve ever tried to stand on one leg, you know that looking and focusing on one particular thing can help you regain your balance. This is the same with SUP yoga, so pick a spot on the horizon and keep your eyes fixated on it.
  • Use an anchor. Anchors, like the GILI Grapnel Folding Anchor, come in particularly handy while performing SUP yoga as they keep your paddle board in one specific place.

10 Easy to Do SUP Yoga Moves

Now that we’ve gone over some SUP yoga top tips let’s get into 10 beginner and intermediate yoga moves. We’ve even added a few harder moves at the end for those wanting slightly more of a challenge. 

Boat Pose

Two women on the same paddle board doing a yoga boat pose

The first pose on our paddle boarding yoga list is the boat pose which does an exceptional job of strengthening the muscles throughout your core.

How to Do the Boat Pose: 

  1. Sit just behind the center carry handle of your SUP.
  2. From here, bring your feet up slightly higher than a 90-degree angle.
  3. Bring your arms up and slightly out to the side.
  4. Make sure your back is straight, and your core muscles are fully engaged. 

To increase the level of difficulty you can straighten out your legs and reach your arms above your head. You could even perform boat crunches by lowering your legs and bringing them back up to your original boat pose. 

Bridge Pose

Woman performing a yoga bridge pose

The bridge pose can be modified to different intensity levels depending on your skillset. You can start with your arms resting on your SUP and progress to a full wheel-bridge pose.

How to Do the Bridge Pose: 

  1. Lie down on your SUP.
  2. Bring your feet back to roughly where your knees were. They should be a hip-distance apart.
  3. Push your belly button up to the sky, forming a straight line from your knee to your chest.
  4. Rest your arms on the board, with your fingers pointing to your feet.

Once you’ve mastered the basic bridge pose, you can upgrade to the full-wheel bridge pose, also known as a backbend.

How to Do the Full Wheel Bridge Pose: 

  1. From your basic bridge pose, bring your hands up to the sky and place them a shoulder-width apart next to your head. The tips of your fingers should be facing toward your feet.
  2. Once your hands are in place, slowly push into your hands, bringing your shoulders up off of the SUP.

Chair Pose

Group of women on a stand up paddle board performing a yoga chair pose

The chair pose is one of the easier poses on the list and helps you practice your balance while also strengthening your core and leg muscles. The closer your feet are together, the harder this pose becomes, so start with your feet roughly a hip-distance apart and build up your balance until your feet are next to each other.

How to Do the Chair Pose:

  1. Stand with your feet a hip-distance apart.
  2. Slowly bend your knees, so your thighs are at a 45-degree angle.
  3. Raise your arms above your head with your fingers pointing to the sky.

Child's Pose

Woman performing a yoga child's pose on the beach

A great finishing pose for both land and SUP yoga is the child's pose. If you’ve ever taken a class with a certified yoga instructor, you’ll know all about this move. The child's pose stretches out your hips, ankles, and thighs while also helping you to relax your mind and body.

How to Do the Childs Pose:

  1. Kneel on your board with your knees on either side of the center carry handle.
  2. Next, sit your bum down on your legs.
  3. From here, bring your chest down towards your SUP with your forehead pressed gently against the deck.
  4. Stretch your arms out in front of you and take deep breaths.

Downward Facing Dog

Woman performing downward facing dog pose on a yellow inflatable SUP

The downward facing dog pose helps to tone your arms and legs, strengthen your shoulders, and stretch out the muscles in your calves, hamstrings, and spine. There are a few variations of the downward facing dog, with some adaptations to make the pose easy for beginners.

How to Do the Beginner Downward-Facing Dog: 

  1. Start off in a child's pose.
  2. Slowly lift up your bum up to the sky, distributing your weight onto the palms of your hands and soles of your feet.

How to Do a More Challenging Downward-Facing Dog: 

  1. Stand with your feet slightly behind the center carry handle at a hip-width apart.
  2. Fold your body over and walk your hands out until you reach the downward-facing dog position.

If you’re struggling to perform the downward-facing dog, try and master the upward-facing dog.

How to Do the Upward-Facing Dog: 

  1. Lie face down flat on your SUP.
  2. Place your hands under your shoulders and press your palms flat.
  3. Straighten your arms to move your chest away from the deck.

Crescent Lunge

Woman on a red top performing a crescent lunge on a gili inflatable SUP

This one is slightly on the more tricker balance scale, but it does an incredible job of stretching out your hips and quadriceps.

How to Do the Crescent Lunge Pose: 

  1. Stand in a low lunge position with your front knee at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Reach your hands to the sky, tucking in your tailbone in the process.

Plank Pose

Women on a GILI SUP performing a yoga plank pose

Our next paddle board yoga instruction is for the plank pose, which is another pose that can be modified to make it more or less intense. Planks reduce the stress on our spine and engage a wide range of muscles from our neck all the way down to our legs. When performed properly, you should feel the burn running throughout your core muscles.

How to Do the Plank Pose: 

  1. Lie face down on your SUP.
  2. Bring your hands under your shoulders and push your weight onto your palms. You should be resting on your toes and not the soles of your feet.
  3. Make sure you engage your core, so your head all the way down to your heels is a straight line.

For a more challenging plank pose, bring your arms down, so you’re resting on your forearms. Alternatively, for a slightly less challenging pose, you can remain on your hands or rest on your forearms and bring your knees on the deck to help distribute the weight.

Savasana

Man performing Savasana pose on his inflatable SUP

The easiest, most relaxing, and most attainable move is the savasana. Once you’ve finished all your yoga poses, we highly recommend spending a few minutes in this pose to truly relax your mind and calm your body. 

How to Do the Savasana: 

  1. It doesn’t get much easier than this. Lie with your back on the SUP, close your eyes, and enjoy the sunshine and the sounds of nature around you. 

Thread the Needle

Woman performing a thread the needle yoga pose

If you have tension in your shoulders, upper back, and neck, then the thread the needle pose is an excellent way to open up and rid yourself of that unwanted stress.

How to Do the Thread the Needle Pose:

  1. Start off in a table top position, with your knees and shins resting on the SUP and your hands placed under your shoulders.
  2. Inhale and put your right arm to the sky to open up your chest.
  3. Exhale and draw your right arm underneath your left. Your right shoulder should be touching the SUP, and your head should be resting on the deck facing towards your left arm.
  4. Repeat the process with your left arm.

Warrior 2

Woman on a yellow Inflatable SUP performing Warrior 2 yoga pose

You’ll need to use some balance for this one, but once you’ve mastered it, you’ll be working on your stamina, concentration, and strength in your legs.

How to Do the Warrior 2 Pose:

  1. Stand either at the front or tail end of your board.
  2. Bring one of your legs forward or back (depending on which end of the SUP you started on) to come into a high lunge.
  3. Open up your hips and point your rear foot at a 90-degree angle.
  4. Make sure your front knee is aligned with your ankle.
  5. Extend your arms out horizontally and turn your head to face forwards.

If You’re Up for a Challenge

So, now that you’ve mastered all the beginner SUP yoga poses, here are some slightly more challenging poses that require a lot more balance, strength, and stamina. 

Crow Pose

Woman performing a Crow pose on a komodo inflatable paddle board

The crow pose is mainly performed to strengthen the muscles in the arms and core. In our opinion, it’s one of those moves that truly makes you feel like a yogi once you’ve got the hang of it.

How to Do the Crow Pose: 

  1. Start off in a squat position with your feet apart and your knees pointing outwards. Your feet should be slightly behind the center carry handle. 
  2. Reach your arms in front of you.
  3. Place your hands on your SUP directly below your shoulders with your fingers spread apart. 
  4. Rest your knees on the back of your upper arms, as close to your armpits as possible.
  5. From here, rise up on your toes and shift your weight onto the palms of your hands.
  6. Shift your weight forward, so your feet lift up off the deck.

Garland Pose

Woman wearing white performing a Garland pose

Although the Garland Pose is fairly simple, it does require some balance while on your paddle board. It’s highly beneficial to our bodies as it helps to open up our hips and also improves our range of motion.

How to Do the Garland Pose: 

  1. Stand straight with your feet apart. You’ll be facing either the left side or right side of your board instead of facing forward. 
  2. Bring your hands above your head and down into a prayer position.
  3. Bend your knees and sink down until your hips are lower than your knees.
  4. Push your elbows into your knees to open your hips further. 

Headstand

Man performing a headstand pose on his yoga inflatable paddle board

Quite possibly the hardest move on the list, and that is a headstand. Headstands are extremely tricky on land, let alone on a moving floating platform, but if you’ve mastered the rest of our suggested yoga moves, then it’s time for you to move onto the expert poses.

How to Do a Handstand Pose: 

  1. Start in a kneeling position with your knees slightly behind the center carry handle.
  2. Interlace your fingers and bring your forearms down onto the deck. Your elbows should be a shoulder's distance apart.
  3. Tuck your chin into your chest and bring the crown of your head down onto the SUP.
  4. Lift your knees up off the ground and slowly walk your feet in.
  5. Press down into your forearms and bring one knee into your chest.
  6. Once you’re comfortable, draw your other knee into your chest.
  7. Straighten out your legs.

Wide Leg Standing Forward Fold

Woman wearing a gray top while performing a wide leg standing forward fold pose

The final move on our list is the wide leg standing forward fold. This pose strengthens and stretches your hamstrings, calves, spine, and hips while also engaging your arm, shoulder, and upper back muscles.

How to Do a Wide Leg Standing Forward Fold:

  1. Stand facing the left or right side of your board with your feet a wide distance apart.
  2. Bend your chest down, placing the palms of your hands on your SUP.
  3. Slowly walk your hands back so they are in line with your feet.

FAQ’S

🏆 How do you do SUP yoga?

SUP yoga isn’t much different from your regular on-land yoga; however, you need to pay extra close attention to your balance. Most yoga moves can be performed on a SUP if you just think of your paddle board as your yoga mat. 


👍 What to do if you can’t do a yoga pose?

If you can’t do a yoga pose, the best thing to do is to practice an easier variation of the pose. For example, if you can’t hold a full plank on your elbows, try and hold it on your hands or bring your knees down for extra support. 

If you continuously practice these easier variations, you’ll be able to perform the original pose in no time. 


🏝️ Can you do yoga on a touring SUP?

Touring SUPs have thin decks as their purpose is to be able to slice through the water at high speeds. To perform yoga moves, you need a slightly wider surface area to help improve your overall balance.

This isn’t to say that it is impossible to practice SUP yoga on a touring SUP, but it would be extremely hard to remain on the board while holding some specific poses.

We have gone into more information about the best paddle board to use for yoga over in our article How to Choose a Paddle Board for SUP Yoga.

Megan Bryant
Megan Bryant

Based in Bali, her favorite SUP spot is the GILI Islands themselves. Travel is another passion of hers - she dreams to see the entire world one day.


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