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What is SUP Yoga?

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Benefits and Risks

If you’re a yoga enthusiast who loves being near the water, you may want to look into SUP (stand-up paddleboard) yoga, which is a combination of paddleboarding and yoga in one. This popular yoga session is designed to challenge your strength and balance as you float across the water.

Hailing originally from Hawaii, SUP yoga made its way to the mainland in the early 2010s. Since then, it has risen to the top of the fitness ranks as both a mainstay class and an opportunity to connect with mother nature.Now you have the opportunity to try it also during your holidayin the beautiful Algarve.

The premise is simple. Grab a SUP board, paddle out to a safe distance in a lake, the ocean, or even in a pool, and start your yoga practice. Here’s everything you need to know about SUP yoga including the benefits, risks, and even a potential workout.


Benefits of SUP Yoga

It goes without saying that many of yoga’s qualities support the principles of translate into SUP yoga. This ancient, spiritual practice that is ingrained in Indian culture, is the subject of countless studies touting its benefits. Plus, it has a positive impact on mental health and can be used for lower back pain management.

SUP yoga is also an excellent way to engage in neuromotor exercise, which increases one’s balance, coordination, and proprioception.

Standing on a SUP board enlists all the core muscles together—transverse and rectus abdominals as well as the obliques. This activity also will fine-tune your mind-body connection as you hold focus during each pose. Here are some other benefits.

Enlists New Muscles

SUP yoga forces you to stabilize multiple muscle groups at one time in order to keep you balanced. This action will cause you to work muscles you didn’t know you had.

Gets You Outside

Performed by floating on water, SUP yoga will invigorate you in the refreshing outdoors. Research has long pointed to the cognitive connection between nature and positive mood.2

Relieves Stress

The link between yoga and stress reduction is clear. Partaking in regular sessions of this ancient practice has been shown to reduce depression, anxiety, and stress across test subjects. These results suggest that it could do the same for you.3

Strengthens Proprioception

By offering immediate feedback—like falling in the water—paddle boarding also strengthens the body’s proprioceptors. A proprioception is a person’s sense of their body in space.


Potential Risks of SUP Yoga

Sup yoga is suitable for most fitness levels, even if you have yet to attend a yoga class. To stay safe, make sure you listen to your instructor’s directions and ensure that you are keeping your form in mind.

For the visual learners, keep a close eye on the trainer and follow what they are doing to ensure you are positioning your body in a safe way. You also should take precautions on the water.

Keep in mind there are some risks that come with SUP yoga. These include:

  • Falling in at low depth: Be aware of how shallow the water is below your board. Make sure it’s deep enough to avoid falling onto any rocks or sharp surfaces that may be directly below.
  • Changing weather conditions: Wind can cause choppy water. For this reason, morning is usually more popular for a SUP yoga class because the offshore wind is calmer.
  • Pushing past your limits: Listen to your body. SUP yoga is designed to give you a workout, but it’s also intended as a relaxing session in nature. Stick to your ability level and work on mastering your form before graduating to more advanced exercises

To mitigate risk, let your instructor know about your level of fitness and ask them to provide modifications for more advanced poses.


“Once you accept you might fall in, you should begin to relax and enjoy the class!”

How To Prepare?

Make sure to wear suitable clothing. Both swimwear and sportswear work, as long as what you’re wearing is comfortable and supportive.

Be prepared for the fact that you might fall into the water and wear an outfit you won’t mind getting wet.

Make sure you wear sunscreen and hydrate, too. Sunny or not, your skin and your body will thank you for the added SPF and water. You can store your water bottle in a dry bag to protect it and other valuables from the water during class.

Also, keep in mind that some classes will have you tether your board to limit drifting while others will encourage you to float on calm waters. Be prepared for both options, or call ahead to determine what to expect.

Final Thoughts

SUP yoga can be a great exercise that affects almost all of your muscle groups. Plus, the physical and mental health benefits of SUP yoga can have a significant impact on your overall wellbeing as you are out in the nature nourishing your body, mind and spirit. 

If you are considering trying SUP yoga on your holiday in the Algarve, make sure you book your class with certified instructors, who knows the area and can adjust the level of the practice to your level.  Also, you should talk with a health care practitioner before starting a new exercise regimen.