Woman makes yoga exercise on SUP board near the shore under water a few stones are visible



Practicing yoga on the water strengthens and relaxes intrinsic back muscles

Yoga exercises on a board that wobbles with the waves, wind and boats: SUP yoga takes the sequences you would normally practice on a mat on land and transports them onto the water. "For many students, it can be challenging to get started with the board even if they have years of experience with yoga", reports Lisa Kauff. She works as a yoga instructor and offers SUP yoga alongside classical courses in her studio, Monkey Yoga, at the Mainz customs port. "But the experience once you're on the board makes it all worthwhile", she gushes. "Yoga on the SUP board is much more intense, but in principle, you can do any yoga exercises."

Training for core muscles

Woman makes yoga on a board with port in the background

Compared with classical yoga, SUP yoga requires a great deal of physical exertion: above all, the intrinsic back muscles are targeted. These are small muscles along the spine. They stabilize the spine, protect our posture and prevent back pain. What makes intrinsic back muscles unique is that we can't flex them consciously.

That's why performing movements on unstable foundations, like with SUP yoga, is ideal for training these small muscles. Well-developed intrinsic muscles will flex during normal everyday movements, supporting and protecting our joints and preventing wear.

"The board forces you to think about nothing else."

Woman makes Sup Yoga Exercise near the shore and smiles

To try SUP yoga, you don't need to have experience with yoga or paddle boards. Kauff adapts the exercises to the participant's level of knowledge: "Even if you have no prior experience with yoga and don't know what downward-facing dog looks us, you are welcome to join us", she says. With beginner courses, she first sends the participants out on the water with their boards for half an hour before the actual class starts. It's important to get familiar with the SUP board and have a feel for it. Once you actually get started, you forget that you're on the water quite quickly.

"The goal of practising yoga on a mat is to concentrate only on yourself. But that doesn't always work", says Kauff. "The board forces you not to think about anything else: otherwise you fall in the water." There's no need to be afraid though. The boards are fixed in place with an anchor. "It's very rare for a participant to fall into the water. And even if it happens, it's no big deal."

Perfect for the summer

"On the water, I experience the changing seasons much more vividly."

What Kauff likes about SUP yoga is not just the improved concentration: there's also a stronger connection with nature. "On the water, I experience the changing seasons much more vividly", she remarks. "The great thing is that you can get on board throughout spring and summer. When I got out on the water for the first time this year in April, I was still afraid of falling in because it was so cold." At the height of summer, the water and wind are a very welcome way to cool off. And even bad weather doesn't deter Kauff from practising her sport: "We get out on the water even on rainy days: that also has its appeal."

Woman makes yoga exercise on the board with cranes in the background
Woman makes yoga on the water: standing on her hands on her hands

SUP yoga is particularly fun with a group. The boards are attached together, the participants observe one another during the class. "You have to be very cautious during SUP yoga because if one person moves, everyone else can feel it", explains Kauff. "That means it's also important to move slowly between the exercises.

So SUP yoga is a great way to slow down." Kauff and her students especially slow down for the final minutes of the class by lying down on their backs on the boards and letting the water rock them: "It's an incredible way to relax."

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