There are a few great things about living in the Columbia Gorge. It’s a small town full of fun and kind people, great local food, wine and beer, and an abundance of sports to go with! If you’re living in the Gorge, chances are you enjoy at least one water sport. Personally, I can’t get enough of SUP (Standup Paddle)! I love to paddle around the river or a lake on a calm day, or do a down-winder if conditions permit. If you’re anything like me, you might also enjoy doing a couple of outdoor activities a day, at least when the weather is nice. For the past three years, I’ve combined my two favorite things – yoga and SUP.
You may have heard that practicing yoga will enhance your other sports. It has definitely improved my skiing, kiteboarding and even helps me jog with better posture and awareness. But you might be surprised to know that SUPing will enhance your other sports, including yoga!
At first, trying SUP for the first time may be challenging. For some of us, certain balancing muscles have been underused. That same feeling might return when you try your first yoga posture on a SUP. Over time, though, you will begin to explore your comfort level on the board. Just knowing that if you fall–it will be into water and not the ground–might give you the courage you need to try new and challenging poses and transitions. I love the added element of challenge to each yoga pose that being on a movable surface brings. Here are some poses at varying levels of challenge. Hopefully, they will inspire you to combine your own favorite sports with yoga!
Thread The Needle is a good pose to try if you’re just starting out. It’s gentle, and you can easily get into it by starting on all fours, then sitting back towards Child’s Pose and finally threading one arm underneath the chest. This pose is meant to be restful, so make any adjustment to feel comfortable and relaxed.
Another, slightly more challenging pose (on a SUP) is Upward Facing Dog. With both hands planted into the board, try to roll the shoulders up, and then back down the spine. This not only feels really juicy, it also helps expand the chest and shoulders. The full pose requires only hands and the tops of the feet to be in contact with the board, but if you’re feeling unstable, benefits won’t be lost if you cheat a little and bring your legs to rest.
If you’ve had a little practice, and are ready for a standing pose, try Warrior II. This pose is powerful and energizing, so challenge yourself by staying for a while. Note that in this pose, the heel of the forward toe is best situated on the center line of the board, while the inner arch of the back foot is aligned there as well, toes pointing at a 90 degree angle with the center line.
Feeling daring? Get into a Headstand! This is one of the most fun and energizing yoga poses, so if you’re practiced in them at a wall, or inside your home, try it outside. The same alignment rules apply; remember to keep your shoulders broad, elbows shoulder-width distance apart, and pull your torso away from your head, so that you don’t put too much pressure on your neck.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll find YogaSUP to be as fun as I do!
Girls4Sport sponsored athlete Emma-Rose Rossoff is a stand-up paddler, yoga instructor and ski instructor. She runs her own outdoor yoga business, Anahata Yoga in the summer months. She also teaches yoga and skiing during the winter months at Mt. Hood Meadows. She lives in Hood River, Oregon.