One of the best ways to get started with SUP Yoga is to use two poses, the most basic of movements with fundamental principles: Cat and Cow Pose. Combined they serve as a great warm-up. They allow us to connect to the board, keep a low center of gravity, and integrate small movements.
As you come to your hands and knees, center yourself on the board. The handle of the board will be directly below your belly button. Your hands, knees, and shins will be equidistant from the handle. This will distribute the weight equally throughout the board. It will increase stability and allow for easier movements.
The hands will be a bit wider than they would be in the studio, but still below the shoulders. Just the outside of the shoulders. The knees will be below the hips and, like the hands, just to the outside of the hips. Allow the shins and feet to stay at the same width. Ground down equally through hands, knees, shins, and top of the feet. Extend out through the crown of the head without shifting forward. Extend out through the sits bones but do not shift back. Keep the 90 degree alignment in the hips. Feel as if you were being pulled in opposite directions. This will lengthen the spine and prevent sagging and compressing the lower back. Hold this static but active pose for 3 to 5 breaths. A breath is a steady inhale and steady exhale. The inhale and exhale should be the same length. This is Table Top Pose.
From Table Top Pose, exhale all of your breath out. On the inhale, soften the elbows by putting a small bend in them. As you bend them, encourage them back close to the body. Bring the chin and chest down towards to the board.
As the inhale breath continues, begin to encourage the belly down towards the board and the chest through the hands. Keep the elbows close to the body. Engage the hands. Think of pulling them back towards the hips. Let the gaze drift up towards the sky and the sits bone rise up towards the sky. This is Cow Pose.
On the exhale. Bring the body back through Table Top.
As the breath continues to leave the body on the exhale, bring the bellybutton in towards the body. Continue upwards toward the sky. Allow the head to come towards the chest. Release any holding tension in the neck, letting the head hang heavy. The body will resemble the shape of a cat on Halloween pictures. This is Cat Pose.
These two poses can be held for 3 to 5 breaths or can be used in breath to flow movement. Link the poses to the breath: inhale for Cow Pose, exhale for Cat Pose. The benefits of these poses are a gentle warm up for the spine and stomach organs. While opening the front and back lines of the body. These poses can be added to other SUP yoga poses, such as opposite arm opposite leg, modified Warrior I, and modified Side Plank.
Photos courtesy of Jeramie Vaine