STAND-UP PADDLEBOARD YOGA

Justine, a Fitness & Yoga coach for the Domyos Club and Itiwit Ambassador, sheds light on this activity in which the ancient practice meets the modern standup paddleboard. The photos were taken near the citadel in Lille, France, on the Deule river.

"SUP yoga combines a practice that is deeply beneficial for both mind and body with an unstable element in a relaxing environment. In yoga, you practise asanas (the physical poses). The asanas you choose to practise offer a number of benefits, from cultivating inner strength to enhancing your balance, strengthening postural muscles, increasing long-term flexibility, relaxing nervous/joint/muscular tension, controlling your breath, massaging your internal organs, stimulating and improving the flow of your body's energies and boosting your performance in other sports. When doing asanas on the standup paddle that require strong muscular engagement with fewer points of support on the board, the benefits will be even greater due to the extra effort required from holding the pose on a moving base. The water and board will be your greatest allies in bringing harmony to your postural muscles, improving your balance, engaging all your muscles, getting a flatter stomach etc. You can even practise yin yoga on a paddleboard. These asanas require the least amount of muscle engagement possible. They focus on finding stillness, the breath and concentration to increase your flexibility, relax the nervous system and improve your performances in other sports. What's great about SUP yoga is that it gets you out of the house, studio or gym to practise in harmony with nature to find ever greater well-being."

Upward Salute (Urdhva Hastasana)

As you inhale, bring your palms together above your head, arms outstretched alongside your ears towards the sky. Spread your upper back. Allow your armpits to sink down as you keep raising your arms upwards. Lengthen the pose 75% towards the sky and 25% towards the back. Benefits: Combats fatigue, relieves back pain, eases low-level anxiety, and stretches the abs, armpits and shoulders. Balance work with the SUP.

Standing Half Forward Bend (Ardha Uttanasana)

As you inhale, raise your head and chest up, keeping your back straight and flat. Bend your upper body forward as you continue stretching your back. Benefits: Stretches the entire back body, strengthens the back. Balance work with the SUP. 

Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

Exhale as you lean forward from your hips. Tuck your abdominal muscles in and stretch your back. Root your feet, contracting the hamstrings to stretch them as much as possible. With every exhale, push your sit bones towards the sky as you extend your back to get a bigger stretch. Benefits: Increases flexibility and strengthens the back and hamstrings. Relieves stress and improves posture. Balance work with the SUP. 

Plank

Align your shoulders, hips and ankles in a straight line. Tighten your glutes and engage your abs. Bring your shoulders down away from your ears. Benefits: Builds strength in the postural/deep core muscles; the action is further strengthened from the instability from the water and paddleboard. 

Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

Set up the pose with your hands alongside your chest, elbows in, feet stretched out. Inhale, pressing into the hands board as you raise your hips and chest off the board, contracting the thighs and bringing the tailbone towards the pubis. Bring your shoulders down and back, lengthen your neck as you look up. Benefits: Strengthens the spine, arms and wrists. Stretches the chest and abs, improves posture thanks to the SUP. 

Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Start on your knees. Align your knees with your hips, wrists directly under the shoulders. Exhale and push up, arms stretched out as you raise your hips away from your ribs. Lengthen your spine. Press your heels down towards the board, bring your shoulder blades together and gaze towards your navel. (the feet should be hip width apart and parallel). Benefits: Stretches and strengthens the back and shoulders. Stretches the hamstrings. Relieves stress and headaches. Balance work with the SUP. 

High Lunge

Bring your front foot under your knee, left foot stretched back behind you. Your hands should be at either side of your front foot. Press the palms or fingertips into the board as you raise your upper body. Tighten your glutes and engage your abs. Benefits: Strengthens the legs and arms. Stretches the groin and relieves constipation. Balance work with the SUP. 

Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)

From High Lunge, inhale as you raise your arms to the sky. Your back foot should be parallel to your body, front foot facing forward. Engage the abs, contract your thighs and press your hips down as you stretch your arms towards the sky. Benefits: Strengthens the arms, shoulders, thighs, ankles and back. Stretches the hip flexors, improves endurance and boosts balance with the SUP. 

Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

From Warrior I, open your arms, placing them parallel to the board and in the same direction as your legs. Bring your shoulders down away from your ears and engage the abs. Benefits: Strengthens the legs, ankles, groin, chest and shoulders. Stimulates the digestion, increases endurance, and relieves back pain, carpal tunnel and sciatica. Balance work with the SUP.  

One-Legged King Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

From Downward-Facing Dog, bring one knee forward, with the knee bent, heel in towards the pubis. Straighten the other leg behind you, keeping your hips aligned on the board. Push your pubis towards the board and keep your spine straight. Bend the back knee and grab your foot or ankle with the hand on the same side to increase the stretch. Benefits: Stretches the hips, quads, spine, chest, shoulders and abs. Strengthens the back. Balance work with the SUP.

Chair (Utkatasana)

From Pose #1, exhale and bend your knees, leaning your upper body slightly forward. Stretch your arms above your head towards the sky. Keep your shoulders low, abs tucked in. Benefits: Strengthens the lower body, stretches the chest and shoulders. Relieves stress and tension, improves flat feet. Balance work with the SUP.

Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

Inhale, raise your arms towards the sky and stretch your upper body upwards. Exhale as you bring your upper body forward towards your legs, bending from the hips while keeping your back long. Benefits: Stretches the hamstrings and spine, relieves stress and headaches and lowers blood pressure. 

Plough (Halasana)

Lie down, knees bent, hands on the ground or under the hips. Engage your abs, raise your hips and stretch out your legs. Inhale as you bring your legs over your head. Exhale, keeping your legs together as you bring your toes to touch the board. Benefits: Relieves stress, back pain and headaches. Stimulates the digestion. Improves back and hamstring flexibility. Intense concentration and balance work with the SUP. 

Supported Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana)

This pose, which is usually done on the elbows, has been adapted for the SUP. You'll place your hands on either side of your SUP. Exhale and slowly raise your feet from the board, knees bent. When you find your balance, you can gradually extend your legs towards the sky. Engage your core as much as possible. Benefits: Strengthens the core, arms and legs. Improves your balance even more with the SUP. 

Upward Bow (Urdhva Dhanurasana)

Lie on your back, knees bent, feet hip width apart and heels under the knees. Place your hands flat on the board next to your ears, elbows in. Exhale as you push with your feet and hands. Contract the glutes to raise your hips. Push your chest towards the sky to increase the stretch. Benefits: Strengthens the thighs and glutes. Stretches the spine and chest. Re-energizing. Stimulates the digestion and the thyroid and reduces stress. Balance work with the SUP.

Crow (Bakasana)

Start with your hands on the board, elbows bent, knees on the board behind your arms. On the exhale, tip your body forward as you come into balance. Benefits: Tones the arms, strengthens the wrists, improves balance with the SUP. 

Camel (Ustrasana)

Keep your hips over your knees. Bend backwards, placing your hands on your heels or ankles. Engage your abs and let your head relax back. Benefits: Strengthens the spine and stretches the thighs, hip flexors, chest and abs. Stimulates the digestion and improves balance with the SUP. 

Lotus (Padmasana)

A relaxing pose that requires very little balance on the board that is great for doing in a tranquil environment. Benefits: Stretches the hips, knees and ankles. Stimulates the digestion and calms the mind for meditation. 

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Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

Exhale as you lean forward from your hips. Tuck your abdominal muscles in and stretch your back. Root your feet, contracting the hamstrings to stretch them as much as possible. With every exhale, push your sit bones towards the sky as you extend your back to get a bigger stretch. Benefits: Increases flexibility and strengthens the back and hamstrings. Relieves stress and improves posture. Balance work with the SUP. 

Plank

Align your shoulders, hips and ankles in a straight line. Tighten your glutes and engage your abs. Bring your shoulders down away from your ears. Benefits: Builds strength in the postural/deep core muscles; the action is further strengthened from the instability from the water and paddleboard. 

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