Know What's SUP: 6 Tips For Your First SUP Yoga Class

Water is our lifeblood: it covers our planet, runs through our veins, nourishes and sustains our bodies.

When we connect with this yin element and our own receptive, fluid nature, a deep relaxation and sense of peace ensues. Practicing yoga on stand up paddle boards is both an awesome core workout and a moving meditation. Laying in savasana, with the sound of waves lapping at your board, and the feeling of sun kissing your skin, you realize that just like people, the strength of water lies in its ability to yield.

Curious about exploring yoga on the water? Here are six things you need to know before you flow.

Meet Amelia out on the water June 25 - 29 at Yoga Journal LIVE! San Diego. Save 15% off your event pass with promo code 'YNON'.


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The ocean knows no yogi. 

No matter how experienced you are as a yoga practitioner, taking your practice to the water is a new and different experience. Whether it’s your first-time practicing yoga or your five thousandth, the ocean is the great equalizer - so check your ego at the beach and come prepared to try something new! Seasoned yogis often come to their paddle board and discover that it’s like stepping on the mat for the first time. The unstable surface of the water invites everyone to connect deeply with their breath and engage small stabilizers muscles for balance - if you’ve started to cruise through your studio practice without being totally present, try shaking things up on a SUP and you’ll see your flow with fresh eyes. Brand new to yoga? Don’t let that stop you! If you can stand on one foot, you can balance and paddle. If you can breathe, you can do yoga. This practice is for everyone.

Meet Amelia out on the water June 25 - 29 at Yoga Journal LIVE! San Diego. Save 15% off your event pass with promo code 'YNON'.

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Dress to get wet. 

Regardless of whether you fall in, you’re going to get a little wet in this practice. From wading into knee deep water to mount your board, to letting your hands trail off the sides in savasana, be willing to embrace the water beneath you. Cotton clothing gets heavy when wet, so avoid it and opt dry-fit yoga apparel instead. You can rock a bikini, just remember to consider coverage before settling back into happy baby if you’re wearing Brazilian bottoms. Dudes will feel best in board shorts and a tank or tee that can be removed to get some sun. Sunscreen and a hat are always a good idea as well. 

Meet Amelia out on the water June 25 - 29 at Yoga Journal LIVE! San Diego. Save 15% off your event pass with promo code 'YNON'.

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Your body is like a sail. 

Wind is the major enemy of stand up paddle boarding, and your body acts like a sail in the wind. Learning to paddle properly is a great way to avoid a difficult SUP experience. Correct paddle technique will help you recruit the large muscles of the upper back, and also teach you how to paddle into a headwind. If you don’t get a detailed lesson, just know this: if the wind picks up, drop down to your knees and choke up on your paddle. Reducing the surface area of your body will lower the wind resistance and enable you to get back to your launch site with ease.

Meet Amelia out on the water June 25 - 29 at Yoga Journal LIVE! San Diego. Save 15% off your event pass with promo code 'YNON'.

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Falling is half the fun. 

All kinds of postures are possible on the board! Just like in your studio practice, learning to fall with grace is a great way to go further in your practice. If you’re willing to test the boundaries of your comfort zone, may surprise yourself when you pop up into headstand or full wheel on the board! When falling, be careful to fall away from the board to avoid injury. On warm days, I encourage students to jump in to lose the fear of falling and lose their attachment to the board. Once you’re wet, it’s game on for trying all kinds of different postures!

Meet Amelia out on the water June 25 - 29 at Yoga Journal LIVE! San Diego. Save 15% off your event pass with promo code 'YNON'.

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Studio rules do not apply. 

Paddleboard yoga is awesome precisely because it’s not your average studio. There are no mirrors except for your reflection, and no music aside from the symphony you’ll create with the sounds of the water, birds, your breath and heartbeat. So relax! Let yourself be playful as you explore movement and balance. Breathe deeply, filling your lungs with fresh air and absorb the beauty of your natural surroundings. You can laugh in the middle of class, or get distracted by the passing clouds. The water is the perfect place to release stress and tension and let it drift away with the tide.

Meet Amelia out on the water June 25 - 29 at Yoga Journal LIVE! San Diego. Save 15% off your event pass with promo code 'YNON'.

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Go with the flow. 

One of the most beautiful things about SUP yoga is the unpredictability that comes from practicing in the great outdoors. At the mercy of the elements, we learn to let go of attachment to plans, expectations for our bodies, and the dogma of how yoga “should be.” Flowing on paddle boards, stability comes from relaxation and the willingness to let the body move with the water. Holding tension or resistance in the body will only make it more likely that you will fall in! Slow down, breathe, and allow yourself to be fully immersed in the beauty of the present moment.

Meet Amelia out on the water June 25 - 29 at Yoga Journal LIVE! San Diego. Save 15% off your event pass with promo code 'YNON'.

Amelia headshot
Stoked Yogi founder Amelia Travis is a Yoga Alliance registered RYT-500, E-RYT 200 and American Red Cross certified lifeguard. Trained in classical Indian yoga in the Sivananda and Ashtanga traditions, she has a strong foundation in both anatomy and philosophy, and skillfully weaves knowledge of both into her classes, retreats, and teacher trainings. She serves as the Yoga Director for Glide SU...READ MORE