YOGA.COM: What is the connection between yoga and stand-up paddling? Why should someone try it?
JESSICA: The connection between yoga and stand up paddling is that they both connect you to your breath and the feeling of peace and stillness within. Both require balance, focus, concentration, and can lead you to a meditative state.
YOGA.COM: Do you need to know how to swim to practice SUP yoga?
JESSICA: You do NOT need to know how to swim to practice SUP Yoga, although one would then definitely need to wear a life jacket while on the board. Some SUP Yoga classes take place in fairly shallow water, where, if you fell in, you could stand up in the water, so it depends on where you are really.
YOGA.COM: What’s a typical class like?
JESSICA: A typical class includes a 20-30 minute paddle followed by anchoring the boards to our floating yoga studio, which is an anchor line in the water for the yoga portion of the class. It is much like a yoga class on land, including some centering and warm up poses, sun salutations, standing postures, inversions, backbends, forward bends, and a sweet savasana with our hands dropped into the water.
YOGA.COM: What should I wear for a SUP yoga class? Do I need any special gear?
JESSICA: Depending on the weather, you could wear a bathing suit (my favorites are Mi Ola and Maaji), or some fast drying shorts and a rash guard top (Sweet Waterwear makes great clothes for paddling and SUP yoga). If it is cooler out, or depending on the water temps, a wetsuit might be called for.
YOGA.COM: Is there a specific type of board you would recommend?
JESSICA: YES! I recommend specifically a boga yoga board, which is a board made for SUP yoga. Basically, you want a board that is extra fat and floaty (has a lot of volume), is wide at the tail, and has a nice deck pad surface which is your yoga mat surface.
YOGA.COM: Are there any safety concerns for SUP practice? Anything you need to know before signing up for a class?
JESSICA: The only safety concerns are that I would be mindful not to try anything on the board (like a headstand) that you have not perfected on land. Falling out of the poses is not a big deal as long as there is enough space between boards and the water is deep enough so that if you fall you fall into the water and simply get wet, rather than falling on someone else's board or into too shallow water.
YOGA.COM: What are some beginner exercises/asanas you can do at home to prepare yourself for a SUP yoga workout?
JESSICA: Core core and more core! :) Also poses that 'hug midline,’ meaning isometrically pulling or gathering your arms or legs underneath you in standing poses, downward dog, inversions. Meditation would also be great practice. Staying totally present in the moment with the breath will serve you well on the unstable surface of the paddleboard!
YOGA.COM: Any music recommendations for SUP Yoga?
JESSICA: No music! I don't bring electronics on the water with me, even in a waterproof case. I take it as an opportunity to be totally unplugged, and listen to the water lapping up against the side of the board and the sounds of nature all around :)
YOGA.COM: Do you need a SUP certification to teach?
JESSICA: As of yet, there is no standard certification to teach SUP or SUP Yoga, but I would recommend only seeking out an instructor who is both a certified yoga teacher and a certified SUP instructor, either through the WPA (World Paddle Association) or the ASI (Academy of Surf Instructors). You may also seek out someone who is a certified lifeguard. I am all of the above :)
Jessica Bellofatto teaches at KavaDeva Yoga in East Hampton, NY.