Verified on 19/01/2023 by PasseportSanté
Yoga with goats or kittens, yoga with a beer in hand or even yoga suspended in the air by rubber bands… In recent years, yoga styles more atypical than each other have emerged. Among them, paddle yoga imported directly from North America (also called SUP yoga for Stand Up Paddle Yoga) is very popular.
It consists of a classic yoga class that takes place in balance on a paddle or surfboard, outdoors or in the pool. Playful and challenging, this practice is extremely complete for the body which works in its entirety. It is also very beneficial for the mind, because it allows you to put all your worries aside and enjoy the great outdoors.
The benefits of paddle yoga
Balance and focus
Paddle yoga develops a strong sense of balance since by definition, the body compensates throughout the course for the movement of the water. It also calls for concentration to maintain this precarious balance, while performing certain postures. Breathing will be a major ally to keep control, indeed a second of inattention and it’s a guaranteed splash!
Sheathing and deep muscle strengthening
Because the board is in constant motion, the muscles of the body are all engaged to maintain balance. This supposes in particular to sheath the entire abdominal area. Result ? After a one-hour session of paddle yoga, all the muscles of the body have worked gently, because without impact, and in depth.
Move with humility
Forget the spectacular postures that you can see in yoga, on a paddle, when you start, you get back to basics. Postures that sometimes seem simple to you on solid ground suddenly take on a complicated turn. The fall is never far away! The opportunity to put the ego aside a little and not to take yourself seriously. After all, falling in the water is a good way to cool off, right?
A parenthesis out of time
In classical yoga classes, it is not always easy to meditate or breathe consciously, especially when you are preoccupied with everyday life. On a paddle, the yoga class takes on a whole new dimension: busy staying in balance, you really leave all your worries on dry land. It becomes easier to meditate and feel the present moment for an almost immediate feeling of serenity.
Communion with nature
Outdoor activities like hiking or “forest bathing” are scientifically proven to benefit mental health. And paddle yoga is no exception. A real moment of communion with nature, it allows you to connect to the surrounding elements. This is also the time to appeal to all your senses: look around you, the blue of the sea, the fish, listen to the waves and the birds, feel the breeze and the salt on your skin, smell the spray and take a deep breath…
Reconnection to self
In Ayurveda, traditional Indian medicine, the water element is one of the five that make us up. Jala – that’s her name – is directly linked to all that is fluid and to the hip-opening postures (pigeon, lotus, garland, etc.), specific to introspection and emotional letting go.
To practice directly on the water is to operate a real cleansing of the body and the spirit, it is to balance its second chakra called Svadhisthana in Sanskrit, “the seat of existence”. Located between the pubis and the navel, this chakra is linked to creative feminine power, creativity, self-esteem, joy of living and even harmonious relationships.
A frank part of fun
Unstable and insecure, it’s time to let go! With paddle yoga, you find your child’s soul and a little lightness. Enjoy every moment, including the sometimes spectacular but oh so funny falls!
What does a paddleboard yoga class look like?
A SUP yoga class looks like a classic class, the postures are the same, but the sensations are different. The sequences are often slower than a dynamic class on solid ground since you are not stable and take more time to find your balance in the postures.
Speaking of postures, all the classics of yoga can be practiced on the water, but don’t miss these to experience all the sensations of paddle yoga
- The dog upside down: the head being below the hips, this posture will destabilize you even more, especially since it is normally very stable.
- The warrior 1 or 2: two postures that boost the confidence and concentration that you will particularly need when balancing on the water!
- The tree: imagine a balancing posture on one leg while balancing on the water. A great challenge to take up!
- The bridge or the half-bridge: heels firmly anchored in the board, to become one with the swell.
- The tailor or the posture of the child: you will appreciate more the most basic postures where you do not risk falling into the water. We rediscover the notion of anchoring under a new eye.
- Savasana: what better way to meditate than to be surrounded by water while being gently rocked by the waves? The perfect time to let go and forget everything.
What type of board do we use?
Paddle boards are obviously the most common during SUP yoga lessons and the most accessible for beginners in SUP yoga. They are equipped with an oar that allows you to move forward standing or kneeling.
Narrower and lighter than paddle boards, surfboards can also be used, but it will be much less easy to balance and achieve postures than on a paddle board. You will also have to row flat on your stomach, with your arms to move away from the edge.
There are rectangular, floating, stable and thick mats such as those from the Disportex or Fit4Water brand. They are usually accompanied by an oar and have handles to hang on, for example, to the water lines of a swimming pool.
Who can do paddle yoga?
Anyone can do paddle yoga! There are no prerequisites, except, of course, to know how to swim and to apply the safety rules inherent in water sports.
That said, having already done a few yoga classes will allow you to benefit more from the class. Because discovering postures on a moving surface can be a lot all at once!
Where can you do paddle yoga?
By the sea, on a lake or even a river, you can do paddle yoga on all waters! Get closer to surf schools and nautical centers which often offer initiations and sometimes even regular lessons.
Paddle yoga is also increasingly offered in the pool for city dwellers! Find out directly from the establishments near you.
Finally, you can also discover or practice paddle yoga through workshops or retreats led by certified yoga teachers.
What to wear during a paddle yoga class?
Some practice in bathing suits, but for others it is sometimes embarrassing to expose themselves half-naked in convoluted postures. You can, for example, wear sports leggings that will dry quickly. Moving around with wet clothes, however, can be inconvenient. Avoid too loose layers of clothing at the risk of ending up totally soaked and weighed down in the event of a fall.
How much does it cost ?
A one-hour paddle yoga session generally runs around twenty euros, equipment included.
As for carpets and boards, it takes several hundred euros to buy and between 20 and 40 € for an hourly rental.
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Paddle yoga: what do you need to know before getting in the water?
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