How To Stand Up Paddle and SUP Yoga

How to do Yoga on your SUP – stand up paddle board

For anyone living near a lake or calm waters, I highly recommend renting or buying a SUP (stand up paddle) board to experience the true meaning of exercising out in nature.  Even better, you get a good core workout and you can use your board as your yoga mat for some toning, stretching and balancing

The calming waters and surrounding scenery provide the perfect setting to connect with nature, mindfully taking in the sensation, movement, smells and sounds of the water.

And most importantly paddle boarding is REALLY EASY!

Charlie SUP downward dog


SUP boarding is perfect for almost anyone of any age as you can take it as easy or as hard as you choose.  You can stand and balance to paddle through the water, kneel, sit or even decide to just use it as a giant floating device that you can lie down on to rest, breath and sunbathe!

* To begin you place your board in the water so it’s at knee level and the fins at the back of the board are free from any pebbles or rocks on the shore.  With your paddle lying horizontally across your board  3/4 of the way up, slide yourself onto the board lying face down. Now use your arms to paddle yourself forward away from the shore.

* Alternatively if feeling brave you can frog leap onto your board, hand over your paddle, landing on your knees hips width apart. Pick the paddle up in your hands and begin paddling away from shore.

* The paddle should be about 15cm taller than you, although this can vary slightly depending on what is comfortable to you. BUT the most important is that it is not so short that you have to hunch your back when standing on the board and paddling!

sup shoulder stand

* Stand or kneel in a wide stable stance and wade the paddle close to the board along the water, from the front of the board to the back (opposite direction if you want to reverse!). You’ll be swapping the paddle from hand to hand to keep a straight course and navigate more to one direction. Either way cup the top of the handle in the primary hand and hold the other about a 1/3 or the way down the paddle.  This way you are correctly using the natural strength of your full shoulder girdle and primary arm (the one holding the top of the paddle), keeping your back straight, knees slightly bent to wade through the water 🙂

SUP YOGA sessions  should incorporate basic paddling with yoga poses that stretch and tone.  It increases your body and mind connection as you focus on your balance, working together with the water beneath you.  There is a strong emphasis on pranayama (breathing exercises) with poses that cleanse and detox the body, balance and core work.

SUP plough pose

But perhaps the MOST important aspect of SUP Yoga is the meditative quality it brings to your day.

Out in the water there is no laptop or mobile device. There is no cooking or cleaning that can be done! It’s just you, your board and the water.



1) Don’t go out when it’s windy. A bit of wind is fine for a normal SUP session but is no friend to balancing yoga poses!  Start by paddling against the current so that it`s an easier trip back to shore when you’re feeling tired!

2)  Even if you only do a few poses make sure you get an all rounded stretch, incorporating forward bending, back bending, semi or full inversion, twist, standing poses and pranayama.

3) Take Savasana breaks (relaxing on your back) and give your body at least a minute to rest lying down on the board between poses and 10 minutes before paddling back.

4) EVERY day is different!  Your body and the elements are different day by day so just because something felt comfortable on the board one day, doesn’t mean it will the next.  Nature is not under our control and currents, wind and water levels can change in a minute!

5)  No matter how advanced you are at SUP or at yoga, always take it easy at the beginning of each session to gauge how your body is feeling and how the water is that day.

Check out my short HOW TO SUP video by clicking on my Instagram page, and if you live around the Geneva/Vaud area have a look at my private classes specifically tailored for SUP yoga, for both beginners and experienced SUP and yoga practitioners.

Charlie's signature xx

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Charlie Stewart-Brown

Charlie began practicing yoga over 27 years ago as a recommendation for her severe anxiety, and has been teaching for over 15 years to people of all ages and abilities. With over 1300 hrs of training and 22,500 hrs of teaching, she is also the lead trainer on the Indiv Yoga 200 hrs YTT & RCYT Kids Yoga Teacher Training Courses, having certified over 400 students worldwide.  She is the voice of the ‘Yoga and Mindfulness Program’ on British Airways long-haul flights, has spoken at many seminars and corporate workshops, and runs exclusive yoga and meditation retreats during the year.

Originally from London and having worked in New York and Lisbon after her Psychology degree, she has since settled  in Switzerland with her husband, and dedicated her life to expanding her knowledge of the science of yoga, mindful meditation and better physical and mental health.

Over the years Charlie has trained with some of the most renowned yoga teachers around the world (David Swenson, Shiva Rea, Anne-Marie Newland, Leslie Kaminoff, Sadie Nardini, Sonia Sumar etc) certifying in Hatha, Sivanada, Ashtanga, Childrens and Family Yoga, Yoga for the Special Child, & Inner Engineering with Sadhguru. She has become highly respected for her successful work in yoga therapy, especially for Autism, ADHD and other behavioural and developmental syndromes. She has also talked at some of the biggest corporations in Switzerland and the annual SGIS (Swiss Group of International Schools) Conference on implementing Mindfulness in the work place and the education system.

Charlie holds the highest yoga qualifications as an ERYT500 (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher), RCYT (Registered Children´s Yoga Teacher), RPYT (Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher) and YCEP (Yoga Continued Education Provider) with the Yoga Alliance, and has developed Indiv Yoga™ to bring a more physiological, therapeutic and individual approach to yoga. Indiv Yoga™ Switzerland is a RYS (registered yoga school) and RCYS (registered children’s yoga school) providing Yoga Alliance teacher training certifications of the highest professional standards.

The focus of Indiv Yoga™ is to provide the benefits of yoga to every type of individual, using its teachings to achieve physical and mental balance, and diminish the anxieties of modern life for adults and children.

Read her online testimonials and qualifications for a feel of her knowledgeable and friendly professionalism.

charlie meditating by lake

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