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How to SUP Yoga like the Pros

If you love doing your workouts outdoors—safely, of course—and have had SUP yoga (yoga on a stand-up paddle board) on your list of activities to try, now is a great time to do it. 

That’s in part because there are a number of places in Westchester and Fairfield County, as well in NYC, the Hamptons and Nantucket, to take a SUP yoga class or meet with a teacher for private instruction.   

Nervous to get out there? Totally normal. “Classes usually begin with a lot of understandable trepidation as the ask is to float while posturing,” says Danielle Brown, founder and owner of ThumbSUP Yoga in Darien, which she opened in 2020 at Weed Beach after close to a decade working at Fairfield County’s Downunder Kayaks. “But just like experiencing the feel of the waves after a day on a boat, SUP Yoga has an ingraining effect that often pulls the participant back for more (and with friends).” 

Whether it’s your first class or you’re already in the process of mastering your postures, Brown offers some must-know tips: 

1. Bring a beginner’s mentality.

“Drop every preconception of the particulars of yoga postures and sequences,” says Brown. “In fact, you are often at an advantage if you aren’t an experienced land yogi.” 

2. Start from a place of stability.

Simply standing on the board can feel intimidating at first—but keeping stability top of mind is helpful. “The play with balance should start from and return to stability,” explains Brown. “So start seated, move to hands and knees, and then add in movement to peel the layers of contact from the board.” Some common poses you can be working towards? That can include wheel/backbend variations, tree pose with a paddle support and arm balances like plank and crow pose, says Brown. 

3. Make sure your board is anchored.

“Do ensure you have an anchoring method for sup yoga so you can close your eyes freely and not worry about floating away,” advises Brown. And speaking of boards, you’ll typically have the option to bring your own to class—similar to how you can bring your own mat to yoga—or use theirs, which is the case at ThumbSUP Yoga, for instance. 

4. Opt for layers—and water shoes.

When it comes to wardrobe, go for something you feel comfortable working out in, recommends Brown. As she explains, “yoga clothes, stretchy shorts or bathing suit. It’s nice to dress in layers to add or subtract if the air feels cool or hot.” (On that note, she does say that most boards come with “tie-downs” to keep your stuff secure, but it’s smart to leave your expensive sunglasses at home for this one.) Water shoes are a good idea, too. “Do bring water shoes in case you have to walk on rocks or oyster shells to get your board,” notes Brown. Also smart? “Don’t apply an oily sunscreen right before departure,” says Brown. 

A suit we love: 

5. Expand your experience.

If you are an experienced SUP yogi, consider expanding your practice with a new teacher, whether you’re home or traveling, suggests Brown. “They will all have a different approach, background and personal experience and you will likely get a hit of creativity from the freshness of someone or someplace new,” she says. 

Other ideas: “Layer in breath-work, poetry, music, touching the water, walking on the board, and bringing your family and friends and coupling a SUP yoga outing with an aftermath of conversation, dinner and cheer.” 

Where to do SUP yoga: 

In Westchester & Fairfield: 

In NYC & the Hamptons: 

On Nantucket: 

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