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Top tips to sail through your first SUP Yoga class

In recent weeks you may have come across vibrant pictures of people doing yoga on boards floating on the water. If you’re curious as to what this outdoor yoga experience is all about then read on.

Stand Up Paddle Yoga (also known as SUP Yoga) often seems a bit daunting at first (what if I fall in?), but for many it quickly becomes a favourite adventurous outdoor activity.

Yoga Works offers regular SUP yoga on the Emmarentia Dam in Johannesburg. Book your spot for one of our next sessions here:

If you are considering joining us for a SUP yoga session, here are four helpful tips to make your first experience on a paddleboard memorable:

1. Gentle Focus

A common misconception about SUP is that you need to have higher than normal core control. Whilst it is true that you need to have a stable core, I find we can develop better control of the body with gentle focus.

Most of our movement practice is intuitive.

Think back to a time when you went for a walk in a new environment. It required you to look at the signage and terrain to navigate your way through to the final destination. The same is true for SUP Yoga. I encourage you to meet the experience with gentle focus – this creates the space for your highly intelligent body to adapt to its new practice environment.

2. You’ve got this!

This brings me to my next point.

The human body is so intelligent and magnificent in it its design! Just when you thought you had reached the ceiling of self-discovery a new experience comes along to show you that there is always a new way to play, feel and move through time and space. Your body is a trustworthy and impressive companion – take the leap to expand your comfort zone.

Believe me when I say that anyone with a playful curiosity can do SUP – you’ve got this!

3. Relaxation vs. Resistance

Can I be totally honest with you about SUP Yoga? One thing you must absolutely know about remaining on the board is that you simply need to relax.

Any sort of rigid and sudden movement has a ripple effect on your ability to stay out of the water. On the other hand, you will find the water is actually shallow. Speaking from experience – falling in is a refreshing way to cool off!

There will be moments of shakiness and instability but with gentle focus and persistence, you’ll be able to find the right balance to go with the flow – going with the current of where the water is taking you. The boards have an anchor that keeps you in place – you will find the gentle movement of the water to be very soothing. SUP Yoga gifts us many moments to surrender to a practice environment filled with the beauty of being outdoors.

4. Take your time

The simplest elements of our yoga practice become very clear when practicing SUP – we may even notice skills our bodies have that we take for granted. We remember the importance of the basics such as moving slower.

Every yoga pose can be done in three phases:

  • Entrance – moving to reposition the joints for an intended action that will create sensation.

  • Observation – your body responds to the shape and sensation of the pose. At this point you decide whether to ‘go deeper’ into a stretch, modify the pose, or avoid it altogether.

  • Transition or exit – coming out of the pose and moving onto the next.

Each phase of a yoga pose becomes very apparent on a board, as we are asked to focus every step of the way instead of moving out of habit. This is a moving meditation at its finest!

You will find the skill of awareness is useful to apply in many aspects of your life – not just on your yoga mat or on a SUP board.

Practicing SUP Yoga reminds us of the joy of maintaining a beginner's mindset. We create space for ourselves to stay playful and curious to learn more about our mind-body connection. Not only is it a unique experience worth trying once it is also a great way to make new friends!

Once you connect to your breathing and get comfortable within your body you’ll find yourself cruising through your SUP experience quite easily – an incredible confidence boost for sure!

Yoga Works offers regular SUP yoga on the Emmarentia Dam in Johannesburg. Book your spot for one of our next sessions here:

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