SUP Yoga (Standup Paddleboard Yoga) is both beautiful and complicated, blissful and challenging, and uplifting and humbling. Photos and videos of folks practicing yoga on a paddleboard are insanely gorgeous, and inspire a feeling of excitement to arise in your heart. The reality is, practicing yoga on a paddleboard DOES give you the opportunity to take your yoga practice out into a gorgeous outdoor studio - a studio that DOES move and inspire your heart, there’s no question about that. However, I’m here to be honest, that’s not the full story. SUP Yoga is definitely not as easy breezy as it seems!
The thing is, when you take your yoga practice off of sturdy land, and onto a totally unstable surface such as water, your brain and your body are thrown off a bit. You are sort of forced to pay insanely close attention to every little move you make. You are asked to utilize different muscles, and a certain level of awareness, that can be easily forgotten on land. This can often be a very difficult process for your ego to handle. Although, I will say, I think it’s an extremely important one.
Often, when someone has been practicing yoga consistently and for enough time that they start to gain a deeper understanding of the asanas (poses), well, it becomes easy to sort of “hang out” in the asanas, and not REALLY be mindful of all of the various parts of the body that are involved in creating that shape. You know what I’m talking about. You reach a point in your yoga practice where you feel like, “I know what I’m doing here. I know what’s going on here. I don’t have to think as much to create this shape with my body. My body knows this shape now. It’s fine. I don’t really have to worry about anything.”
This is natural. It’s how we operate as humans - it’s adaptation. Slowly, over time, our minds learn, and our bodies adapt, and we start to figure out this whole yoga thing after all! It’s really quite a fascinating process, and an amazing ability that we have. However, when we become content and relax back into any part of that process, we start to create patterns, and learning comes to a halt.
This is why I believe the challenges and uncomfortableness of SUP Yoga are so important to experience. Because of the unstable foundation, and because you are asked to tap into your mind and your body in a new way, you see your yoga practice through a fresh, new lens. You’re given an opportunity to discover, “Oh wow! I can use THIS muscle to become more grounded in my Warrior 2….” and “Oh cool! I realize that I press down with my left foot more than my right when coming into wheel…” and other alike awakenings.
I fully believe that every once in a while, it’s important to throw your yoga practice a little off of your game.
Not only will practicing SUP Yoga give you a fresh perspective on the yoga asanas, but, it’s a powerful catalyst for rebirthing the mindfulness, awareness, and intention behind the asanas - which, really is the YOGA, after all.