SUP Yoga Unveiled: Exploring the Hype with Karine Halle

When talking to people about yoga, their mind usually goes to one of two places, “yoga is amazing” or “I could never do yoga, I’m not… (flexible enough, strong enough, zen enough, etc)”. When talking to people about SUP yoga though, people’s reaction is more often than not in the direction of “are you nuts? I have a hard time balancing on two feet, forget balancing on a paddleboard!”

This blog is here to break the misconceptions surrounding SUP yoga!

Stand up paddleboard yoga is impossible.

Yoga is not just a physical practice. Sure, social media and magazines show us photos of yogis in pretzel-like shapes (which I am also guilty of doing haha), but that is not the reality of yoga. In fact, yoga is the practice of unity – the joining of body, mind and spirit. It is leaving your expectations behind, letting go of the fear of what your practice may look like and bringing your full awareness to the present moment. You do not need to be flexible to do SUP yoga nor do you need to know sun salutations by heart. Truth be told, first time yogis are welcomed with open arms in my classes. Although jumping right into a Power or Vinyasa SUP yoga class might be overwhelming, a gentle yin yoga practice focused on stretching, relaxation and meditation might be just perfect! Merely show up with your smile and enjoy the fresh air one breath at a time

You need to have good balance.

I cannot begin to count the amount of times I have heard this excuse as a reason not to try SUP or SUP yoga. Truthfully, if you fear standing, you likely will not be able to stand. The tenser your body is, the less likely you are to absorb the ebb and flow of the water beneath you. Try to beat the fear by taking deep breaths. Use every exhale to soften the body just a little more. When the physical body starts to feel relax the mind can also begin to relax. Once you’ve rid yourself of tension, slowly make your way onto the SUP on your hands and knees or onto your sit bones. Most SUP yoga classes will start students either laying down on their backs, seated, or in a child’s pose. Notice how your body feels here. This is already a great step. Allow your mind and body to settle into this shape, noticing the rhythm of the water and allowing your body to synchronize with it. With time, you will notice that the SUP is there to support you. With that trust, you can slowly begin to lift your center of gravity away from the board and make your way to standing. Remember, the tenser you are, the more likely you are to fall. Trust. Worst case, the water will catch you!

You are going to fall

Truth be told, you might! Just know that you are safe. On top of having a life jacket on your paddleboard, you have the biggest floating device at your disposal already – your SUP. If you were to fall in, you can grab onto your board and make your way back on. Instructors are there should you need help or extra guidance on how to get back on. Perks of falling… It’s an instant refresher and it’s bound to put a smile on your face!

SUP yoga is not real yoga

SUP yoga may be seen as one of those trendy “fake yoga” practices categorised alongside goat yoga, beer yoga, laughing yoga, etc… Although SUP yoga is not hundreds of years old and is not a traditional way of practicing yoga, it does not mean that it is not “real yoga”. As mentioned previously, yoga is the connection of mind, body, and spirit. It does not matter what your physical practice looks like. There are countless benefits of taking your practice to the water. It gives you an automatic connection with nature that the confines of four studio walls does not provide. SUP yoga is thus a great way to get grounded. SUP yoga forces you to be mindful and present as you focus on every breath and movement you take in order to stay afloat while dealing with nature itself. Meditation and relaxation come easy when connected with nature taking you one step closer to that moment of bliss.

I hope this encourages some of you to step out of your comfort zone and pushes you to try something new! Break away from the four corners of your mat and take your practice to the water, submerged in nature. Although I cannot guarantee that you will come out of class dry, I can promise you a fun-filled time leaving you feeling blissed and refreshed. Caution – It’s ADDICTIVE!!!

Written by Karine Halle – IG: @supyogawithkarine

Karine is a 27-year-old yoga and paddleboard yoga instructor from Canada expecting her first child. She has been doing yoga for over 10 years and still humbly considers herself a student; always open to learning and growing. She fell in love with SUP yoga 4 years ago and became a certified instructor shortly after becoming a yoga instructor in 2017.  Karine uses her inflatable Bluefin Cruise to do and teach SUP yoga classes. Her favourite place in the world in on the water surrounded by nature. 

Reading next