"On the ride again" is a regular feature written by Carine Camboulives and Emmanuel Bouvet for the Adrenaline Team blog. BIC Sport brand ambassadors, they're on a permanent quest for new experiences and are both seriously into their Stand Up Paddle Yoga, whether it's at home in France, or on a stretch of water in some far-flung corner of the world on their travels. In the latest chapter, they share some of their secrets and experiences, and offer some basic rules to help you get the most out of this simple, enjoyable and regenerative new sport.
“You’ve got to be joking !” you might well tell me. “Trying this kind of thing in deep midwinter ! It’s sadistic”. Well, actually no. First of all, if you’ve never ever tried yoga, now is the perfect time to find yourself a yoga class that suits you so you can learn some basics before the sunny days are here again and you want to get out on the water. If you’re already a yogi (someone who does yoga), beginner or expert, and if you’ve already got a board or can borrow one, the sunny days of the winter months are a fabulous opportunity to relax and to reconnect with nature.
Why Yoga on an SUP board ? That’s exactly the question I couldn’t answer during an interview for a women’s magazine nearly ten years ago. I was already totally addicted to SUP on flat or wavy water as a great way of exploring places inaccessible from land, and I was doing yoga regularly. Combining both activities just seemed like a marketing construct.
It was a good few years later, on holiday in Annecy, that it all clicked. Badly needing to do some serious sport, I borrowed my brother’s board to go and have a good paddle on the lake. Once I was out on the middle of the lake, I was overcome by the beauty of the spot, and the silence induced a state of inner calm that was perfect for meditation. I quickly started doing some stretches, forgetting all about time and space, and then went through a full yoga routine. As I paddled back to shore, I was struck by the physical, spiritual and mental benefits of the SUP yoga I’d just done. All my senses were alert and the connection with nature had helped me connect with and live in the moment itself.
Since then, I’ve been doing stand-up yoga regularly. Especially when I’m far from the sea, when I come across a lake, a river or even just a pond. On one of our recent trips I was able to do some SUP Yoga on the Egyptian part of the Nile, an unbelievably fantastic place for it.
So how do you get started ? SUP Yoga is much easier than you’d think, as long as you keep your exercises simple and regenerating. Most of all, avoid being seduced by the idea of those top yogis you see on the web and in the magazines, standing on their heads, doing one-hand inversions, or even the splits ! The idea is to feel good, to improve your flexibility, without hurting yourself or falling.
And choose the right kind of board, big volume and stable. A purpose-shaped yoga board is obviously ideal. Here’s my daughter Lou, special-guesting to show some more advanced moves, like this headstand, on one of the lagoons at our farm in Hawaii.
The complete opposite of a fully-equipped gymnasium building, SUP is a micro-gym you can set up anywhere you like, and an inflatable board is really practical, very easy to transport. You are advised to wait for a favourable weather forecast and conditions, preferably little or no wind and on flat water. It’s also worth checking how the wind forecast evolves through the day. You should always inform someone in your group or party if you’re going out to sea solo, and make sure you have a waterproof mobile phone with you. You will need a board leash, and need to take a life jacket with you. If you’re at altitude, wear a warm wetsuit, board shoes and gloves.
The choice of style, moves and intensity is all up to you. Listen to your body, and don’t be influenced or led by what other people are doing. A regenerating yoga, slow and meditative, is just as good for you as a full-on intense fitness session. Let your intuition be your guide.
Before you rush off to try it all out, there’s another important thing to say about equipment : in the “classic” version of SUP (paddling hard and creating movement), it’s the movement and speed that give you much of your balance. When you’re doing SUP yoga, with the board at a standstill on the water, that balance is a lot less certain. So a board with correctly adapted characteristics is a huge help, its width and volume compensating for the lack of movement and speed. The Bic Sport Cross Fit model is a great example : 175 litres of volume, 84cm wide, and the whole deck covered with soft footpad material for more comfort and grip during your poses.