I Tried It Popular Yoga Practice

Yoga on a Stand-Up Paddleboard? “SUP” with that?

Both yoga and stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) are quite popular where I live (Southern California). Recently, I found a place where I could do both … at the same time!

Had I been aware of Floating Yogis back when I wrote my Carlsbad/Encinitas, CA city guide for this site, I certainly would have included it. If you’ve done either yoga or SUP – or both – or neither – I encourage you to give it a try.

While I was in Yoga Teacher Training, part of the curriculum involved taking classes outside our “home” studio (Mantra Yoga & Juice). My YTT tribe-mates and I compared notes on where to go, and one of them said, “There’s this place on the lagoon called Floating Yogis. They put you on a paddleboard and take you through an hour-long yoga class.”

I was intrigued, as I had even less experience in paddleboarding than I did in yoga. I’d been going to yoga classes for a year and a half and liked it enough to get into YTT, but I’d only done SUP a few times. If you’ve seen pictures or video of people paddleboarding in the ocean, deftly riding waves … well, that’s not me. All three or four times I’d done SUP were on the calm, glassy lagoon, about a mile away from the ocean.

I thought, “Well, my balance is kinda shaky on a paddleboard … and I’m not great at staying in eagle/dancers/tree for very long … so, YES, let’s do this, what could possibly go wrong?”

One Sunday morning our group went to Floating Yogis. Our instructor, Sandra, signed us in and got us equipped with a paddle (the length is adjusted based on your height) and with a board (the boards themselves are larger, wider models, all the better for balancing).

We paddled out a ways into the lagoon, settling in a spot well away from the boats and jet-skis (though not, alas, from their wakes; I’ll come back to that). There, we literally “dropped anchor” – each board is equipped with one so the class will stay put.

Sandra began leading us through a beginner-level class, made more difficult by, you know, doing yoga poses on a piece of foam bobbing in water. She was good at starting us in a true-beginner version of each pose, and guiding us into more advanced expressions from there.

Now on this particular day, it was breezy and there was a lot of boat activity … so we were warned when wakes were heading toward us. We all got bounced around a bit during our class, but only I fell into the water, and only once. (Sandra gave us a good tip at the beginning of class: “If you feel like you’re going to fall, fall away from your board and into the water … it’s a softer landing.”) Fortunately it was still summer and my quick dip was actually quite refreshing.

After a sequence including cat/cow, backbends, forward folds, Warrior poses, and so forth, it was time for Savasana. As with most yoga classes I’ve been in, this was the best part. I lay on my back with my arms out and hands in the water, floating gently (the boats and jet-skis must have been taking a break), and lovin’ life. In fact, when our teacher said, “If you’re ready to come out of Savasana …,” in my head I thought, “Nama-stay laying on this board for a while.”

Eventually we weighed anchor and paddled back in, then posed for a group picture, and hosed the sand off our feet. It was a fantastic experience, and I’ve been back several times since.

So, the next time you visit Carlsbad, CA, book a SUP class with Floating Yogis … they also offer group retreats, “full moon” events, and even teacher training. If you’ve never been on a paddleboard, SUP yoga is a great way to (wait for it) get your feet wet!

Have you ever tried SUP yoga? How did it go? Share your stories below!

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  1. Kaitlin Moran

    Kaitlin Moran

    December 4, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    I really liked this post, Chuck! I’ve been wanting to do SUP here in Boston (in the summer only! haha) but have been afraid I’ll be totally stupid looking. You’ve given me confidence to try!

    1. Chuck Vadun

      Chuck Vadun

      December 5, 2017 at 11:53 am

      Thx Kaitlin! Another good reason to take a mid-winter trip to SoCal! 🙂

      And you’ll be great! I’ve still fallen off the board only once (!) so I’m sure you’ll have no problems.

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