Paddleboard Yoga, invented by 2009, is the practice of modern yoga as exercise, and sometimes specific transitions between postures, while stand up paddleboarding, usually with the board in calm water, such as a lake.
Stand up paddleboarding (without yoga) was created in the 1940s by surfers at Waikiki in Hawaii. In 2009, the yoga teacher and author Rachel Brathen adopted what she called the "playful" but at that time "unheard of" practice of Paddleboard Yoga as suitable for her holiday courses on Aruba in Costa Rica, stating that she had not invented it. The resulting publicity in The New York Times helped to popularise the practice.
Paddleboard Yoga is the hybrid practice of modern yoga as exercise, and sometimes specific transitions between postures, while stand up paddleboarding. The board is usually in calm water, such as a lake; instructors emphasize both the precision of movements and safety. However by 2013, Paddleboard Yoga was also being practised in Beverly Harbor, Massachusetts, a place with strong currents; each board was fitted with a small anchor.
The equipment used may be either a normal length surfboard or a specially designed stand up paddle board; there are also inflatable boards for beginners, which are more tolerant of imprecise moves. Beginners can in addition practise on the beach or in a swimming pool to gain the strength and flexibility to maintain the balance necessary when the board is afloat. Stand up paddle boards intended for yoga have a wider deck of around 35 inches (89 cm) for stability, and a rounded prow or nose to give more deck space, compared to those designed for other purposes. A foam plastic deck pad fixed to the board serves as a yoga mat. An elastic bungee grid may be fixed near the prow to hold the paddle or other equipment such as a water bottle.
Beginner classes start with reclining or kneeling asanas that demand less precise balance, such as Bidalasana (Cat and Cow poses), advancing to standing asanas such as Vriksasana, Tree Pose. Balance is assisted by directing the gaze to a fixed point.
According to Alexa Pozniak on Boston.com, Paddleboard Yoga provides both "a physical workout", the core abdominal muscles constantly working to keep the body balanced on the board, and "an exercise in mental focus", not least to stay out of the water. Lauren Ladoceour, in Yoga Journal, wrote that described the practice as bringing "a sense of joyful freedom to an otherwise earth-bound yoga practice." Jessica Matthews found the experience both exciting and tranquil, combining exercise and relaxation. Jennifer Nelson, on Today.com, called the practice in shallow water in a Key West mangrove surrounded by fish and turtles "nothing short of a Zen workout". The travel writer Elizabeth Gowing stated that after an hour's tuition, which included Camatkarasana, Wild Thing pose, she was able to stand on her board in Virabhadrasana, Warrior Pose.
A Paddleboard Yoga class in Malmö, Sweden
- Ladoceour, Lauren (5 April 2017) . "Joy Ride". Yoga Journal.
- O'Riordan, Alison (12 September 2014). "The beach bum yogi who is bending all of the rules". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 26 March 2022. Retrieved 26 March 2022.
Not an inventor of SUP but rather a leader in the SUP Yoga community, the technique has blossomed around the world.
- Matthews, Jessica (8 August 2012). "What Can I Expect in a Paddleboard Yoga Class?". American Council of Exercise. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
- Nelson, Jennifer (2013). "'Flo-yo' a yoga, paddleboard mashup — just don't fall in". today.com. Archived from the original on 29 March 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
- Pozniak, Alexa (24 June 2013). "Stand-Up Paddleboard Yoga". Boston.com. Archived from the original on 28 June 2013.
- Marcus, Ben (2012). The art of stand up paddling : a complete guide to SUP on lakes, rivers, and oceans. Guilford, Connecticut: FalconGuides. ISBN 978-0-7627-7329-9.
- "A Comprehensive Guide to SUP Yoga". Glide SUP. March 2022. Archived from the original on 2 June 2023. Retrieved 30 August 2023.
- Gowing, Elizabeth (2019). Unlikely Positions (in Unlikely Places) : a Yoga Journey Around Britain. England: Bradt Travel Guides. pp. 17–22. ISBN 978-1-78477-640-4. OCLC 1061309216.