What is SUP Yoga? You’ve read about my yoga journey. You’ve probably seen a zillion photos of me in yoga poses if you follow my personal Instagram (krodriguez26). Since Spring has arrived, kinda, in the PNW we are starting to get warmer and sunnier days. This means it’s SUP yoga time! What is SUP yoga? SUP is yoga on a paddleboard.
Where do you do SUP Yoga? I do SUP with my good friend Georgina Shaffer of Azul SUP and Yoga. She is usually out at Lake Ki a small lake North of Seattle. We have also gone out on Lake Goodwin. Check out places local to you.
What do you do SUP Yoga On? Azul uses paddleboards specifically designed, built and tested built by yogi’s for yoga made by BOGA Paddle & Surf Company. BOGA is located in San Clemente, California and the paddleboards come in several designs. From their website:
Yoga Blue & Yoga Bamboo – BOGA Stand Up Paddleboards – SUP YOGA
The only board designed and shaped with the leaders in the industry for the ultimate balance and stability you desire for fitness on water. We were all pleasantly surprised that while we all focused on superb stability while shaping the board the board come out with a beautiful glide. Smooth on the water, fast enough to keep up with the pack, yet sturdy enough to hold paddlers of all shapes, sizes and abilities. Made of EPS vacuum bagged bamboo & epoxy construction.
BOGA Air – BOGA Stand Up Paddleboards – SUP YOGA
Inflatables provide the perfect solution to SUP’s biggest hurdles, portability, durability, and storage. As with all boards, selecting the best construction is very important to us at BOGA. BOGA uses 6” Non-Linear Drop Stitch core material for extreme stiffness in addition to a high tensile uni-directional center stringer. This construction makes the BOGA Air sturdy, stiff and responsive – more like a standard epoxy board.
In addition, BOGA makes paddleboards in premium, surf, cruiser, touring, racing and soft top. Depending on what you want to do with a paddleboard, check out their website and get to know the different varieties. As with any big purchase, do your research. Maybe BOGA isn’t for you. I’m just sharing info here.
Am I a Ambassor for BOGA? Nope. Plain speaking, I have only done SUP on BOGA boards. I have also been at Costco, REI and other sports equipment businesses and viewed standard paddleboards and can’t imagine trying to do yoga on them. Can you use a BOGA Yoga board like a regular paddleboard? Um, yeah. They are still a paddleboard.
What is the difference between a BOGA Yoga board versus a standard paddleboard? From the BOGA Yoga website:
- Completely flat top deck to the edge of the rails
- The aqua balance shaping on the underside
- Boxy rails
- Wide square tail and nose, tracks really well
- Beautifully designed pad is extra long (for those downward dog poses!)
- Pad is soft and comfortable on the feet, hands, and head
- Made with quick water wicking material
- The yoga mat type pad is super soft yet has a great grip
How do you prepare to do SUP Yoga? As you know, I do yoga regularly. Do you need to be an avid yogi to do SUP? No, but it doesn’t hurt to know the basics and be comfortable. You can also do SUP Yoga in a pool before trying it on water outside. Is there a difference between them? Yes, if you are in the PNW most likely the pool is an inside pool. You don’t have weather conditions to deal with. Your class size will depend on the pool size.
Yoga can also prepare by doing Indo Yoga. Indo yoga is done in a studio on boards specifically designed to simulate being on the water. The boards are not as large as a paddle board, but you get the gist.
If you want to try SUP yoga, you can find instructors near you. Do your research. Azul SUP & Yoga owns their own fleet of boards, so you don’t need to have your own to try SUP. Georgina trained at BOGA to be a SUP yoga instructor. She also has many years of experience and certifications as a yoga instructor. As with any yoga class, don’t judge SUP yoga by an experience with a bad instructor. Yoga instructors come in many varieties. Find one that works for you in and out of the water.
Where and how a class is taught is also important. Azul SUP & Yoga is taught at Lake Ki. It is a small local lake and I find that it has less chop than larger lakes and in not as deep so the water is warmer.
Do you have to be an avid swimmer to do SUP Yoga? Azul provides life jackets if you aren’t comfortable. You can put it on before paddling out or during the class if you change your mind. Doing yoga on a paddleboard is a challenge, you have to be comfortable with the idea because that will affect your enjoyment.
Can I do all the same poses on the paddleboard? Many people do, but not me. It is honestly a weird dynamic form me. While I have been on water all my life and I love yoga, mixing the two isn’t as easy. I’ve also let it “get inside your head” so that is something I am trying to work on as well. The first class I did amazing, my second class it was choppier and I fell in twice. Now I am not as confident. That is something I am working on, wish me luck!
What does a class look like? Since I’ve only ever don a class with Georgina, I can’t tell you how other classes go, I can only share how she teaches.
Class starts on shore where she explains how to get on a paddleboard, store your gear and use the paddle. Your paddle is adjusted to your height and then you hop on and paddle out to the class area. Azul uses sinkers and a line with clips out on the lake. It’s great! Everyone isn’t floating all over the lake during the class. Once everyone is clipped into their spot class begins and it looks like a flow yoga class. Just on a board in the water. If you have done a lot of yoga, you will need to adjust your stance on the board for balance. Take it slow. You don’t have to do every pose, and you don’t need to go as deep into a pose if you don’t feel comfortable. After class we have 10-20 minutes of paddle time to just enjoy being out on the water.
Are there distractions? Oh, you mean like bald eagles soaring overhead? LOL, for us yes. Maybe not for you depending on where your class is. Know the body of water you are taking the class on. Ask the instructor. Lake Ki is small and depending on the time of year and the time of the day there may be others on the lake. It is also a no-motor lake so everyone else out there is also using some form of paddle to get around. The nice thing is we don’t have to worry about large loud boats and jet skis. The lake is near a road so,yes, honking horns and hoots interrupt our zen, but it is kind of amusing too.
There are all things to ask your instructor when you book a class near you.
What do you wear? It all depends on the time of year and weather if you are outdoors. Standard yoga attire that you are ok with getting wet is perfect. A swimsuit is ok if you can do yoga in it and you’re not afraid of things “popping out”. Remember you will be doing downward dog. I really don’t want to do that in a bikini bottom do you? Bring a jacket or long-sleeved shirt to wear if the weather changes and the clouds roll in. Again, this can be stored on the front of your board and easy to access when you need it.
Where am I at as a SUP yogi? Honestly? I’m a newbie. I will tell you that I have been a swimmer all my life. I also grew up in Southern California just 15 miles North of BOGA head quarters. I am a mermaid at heart. Paddleboarding is different from body, boogie and standard surfing. I am also older and out of practice.
I’ve done SUP three times now. It’s a challenge I’ve given myself. Depending on the weather and choppiness of the water, I am standing, on my knees or kneeling.
I hope you have found this personal review of SUP yoga helpful. I encourage you to give it a try. Do you live in the King, Snohomish and Skagit counties in Washington? Let me know and I’ll join you in a class at Lake Ki with Georgina!
Interested? azulsupyoga.com and @azulsupyoga on Instagram!
Word: paddleboard vs. paddle board. I’ve seen it used both ways…..