I’ve been seeing Stand Up Paddle Yoga (SUP Yoga) everywhere this summer, which is why I absolutely had to give it a shot when I was in Austria a few weeks ago. I had no idea what I was missing out on – it was such a great experience! I practice yoga about 2 to 3 times a week, but I’ve never tried something anything like this before. SUP Yoga is a really intense and exhausting yoga class that forces you to use every muscle in your body, especially the ones that you usually do not use. Keeping your constant balance while trying to hold the yoga poses is a real challenge, but once you’ve found you’ve become comfortable on the SUP, there’s nothing more calming and relaxing.
Just imagine doing sun salutation in the middle of the most beautiful clear and turquoise lake like the “Faaker See” where I tried it for the first time. Since I am not a yoga teacher, let alone a SUP Yoga teacher, I contacted my friend Yara from Up Sup Down who happens to be a SUP Yoga teacher in Fremantle, Australia. I adore Yara’s free yoga spirit, and the moves she pulls of on a SUP are insane. Since I wanted to learn a bit more about SUP Yoga, I asked her some questions that will hopefully get you excited to try it yourself soon.
Hi Yara, where do you live?
I live in Fremantle, Autralia.
How did you become a SUP Yoga Teacher?
I did my yoga teacher training back in 2012, which is the requirement to specialize as a Sup Yoga Instructor.
To become a Sup Yoga Instructor you do an additional course, I did mine with a company called ASI on the Gold Coast of Australia, it takes about a week. Its soooo much fun !
Why SUP Yoga? What’s so special about it?
I personally love the outdoors and especially the Ocean, practicing on a Sup is a beautiful way of combining yoga with nature. It is great for developing body strength and balance, to improve blood circulation and digestive function and to increase flexibility. The Sup is kind of a quiet teacher, you have to pay a lot of attention to detail because otherwise you fall into the water. On some special days we are lucky to have dolphins swimming around us!
Is SUP Yoga considered a workout?
It does definitely work your body, but there are different kinds of classes. Some classes concentrate purely on meditation while others also engage into Sup Fitness. I believe the beauty of Sup Yoga is that breath, body and nature flow as one.
Is SUP Yoga for anyone or do you need some yoga experience to do it?
Some may be surprised but I believe that Sup Yoga is especially good for beginners. It is an advantage to be familiar with a few yoga classes on the ground but a Sup Yoga beginner class happens at a very slow pace compared to a normal yoga class.
You only have to be able to swim in case you fall into the water.
What does a typical SUP Yoga class look like?
I teach classes that go for about 60 minutes at a time. We would paddle about 50 meters out from the shore and find a calm spot in the water and anchor the boards. It takes a bit of time depending on how many people attend. A class can take up to 8 people at a time. We would position ourselves and practice asanas that are Sup Board friendly. Some asanas that are very easy to do on the ground are more challenging on the board.
How do you stay together as a group when you’re on the sub? I imagine it to be really hard. Also, where do you leave the paddles?
Without anchors it is nearly impossible to stay together, especially here in Perth where the wind can pick up anytime. I’ve created bottles that are made out of 3 liter bottles filled with sand. We carry them on the back of the board until we find a good place to anchor the boards. The anchor is attached to the leash and gets thrown into the water. The paddle gets attached to a second leash and will float next to each student’s board in the water.
Ok, let’s be honest. How many times have you already fallen into the water while doing a handstand or other fancy yoga poses?
Oh, pleeeenty of times. Its fun, sometimes I get my students to jump purposely into the water at the very start of the class, to shake off the fear of falling. After all, it is just water and since we get temperatures of up to 40 degrees celsius, it’s so refreshing.
Thank you for the interview, Yara.