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

yoga tt lake 001The 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!

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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!

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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.

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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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