“Paddleboard yoga” is just what you think: practicing yoga while floating on a paddleboard. The concept has recently become the latest sensation in the yoga world, and it is apparent in its numerous benefits.
Yoga on the water offers a completely different experience than in a studio. It’s calm, soothing, and rejuvenating. The soft undulation of the water helps you develop balance, engages your core, and builds strength in muscle groups that translates to your regular yoga practice. Does it sound too challenging? It really isn’t. Here are three beginner moves to try out on the board:
Cat and Cow Poses
Before you jump into crazy yoga maneuvers on the board, find your balance first. In a kneeling position, get used to how the board feels under you and how it moves on the water. Then, give cat and cow pose a try: Stay kneeling, while keeping the board steady on both sides (your weight should be distributed evenly to avoid ending up in the water). Once you find your balance, place your hands on the board—make sure your knees are directly under your hips and your hands are under your shoulders. Then, inhale and arch your back downward, bringing your head and chest up toward the sky. Finish by exhaling and dropping your head, reversing the arch of your spine upward.
You’ll notice that doing these moves on a paddleboard requires a different type of focus than in a stationary studio. L.A.-based yoga instructor Dice lida-Klein states that in order to stay balanced and afloat on your board, you have to engage your entire midsection, making it much more challenging.
Next, try a more challenging pose. Start on your hands and knees, just like cat and cow pose. Begin to move into downward-facing dog pose by straightening your knees and bringing your hips to the sky. If necessary, inch your feet back or your hands forward to keep the board steady. Downward-facing dog really targets your arms, legs and core.
Practicing yoga on the paddleboard can help you become more in “tune” with your poses. In this pose, for example, putting more weight on your right side causes your board to tilt to the right, requiring you to compensate by engaging your left side. Take some time to really get into the stretch. Then up the ante with warrior pose.
Warrior I Pose
Return to standing. Slowly slide your feet apart to optimize your balance on the board. Turn your back foot out and keep your heels aligned. Exhale and square your torso to the front of your board. Bend your right knee, so that it’s perpendicular to the board, and reach your arms overhead while bringing your palms together. Hold this for up to a minute and repeat on the opposite leg. In this pose, you will notice that your legs will get quite the workout, but you will also need core stregth to keep yourself stable. Don’t worry if you fall; just get back on the board and try again. Warrior pose is challenging and falling in the water is part of the process. The best thing you can do is try to learn why you fell—it’s the only way to get better.
If you’re looking to ramp up your yoga practice or just want to try something new, rent a board and put a nautical spin on these yoga balance poses. Don’t be afraid to get a little wet. That’s part of the fun in paddleboard yoga. Before long, you’ll notice improvements in your practice on land and in the water.
Image source: Flickr