When the idea of performing Yoga on water on a SUP board was first conceived, the idea did seem a bit whacky. In a sense it seemed counter-intuitive and in some ways it still remains so. SUP Yoga, because it challenges balance, the result is that it triggers the stabilising muscles and these are set off by a chemical / electrical charge sent from the brain.
The smaller muscles receive the information via the super highway of nerves and this in turn can lead to a triggering of the core muscles. Interestingly, many injuries can be caused by this sudden response of the brain so as a dumping of electrical impulse violently hits the stabiliser muscles and this can then send areas of core muscle into spasm. Consequently, if you’ve never practised Yoga, it’s advisable to have practised on solid ground. Typically this is how folks comment ‘I’ve pulled my back out’ when really what has happened is that in a response to find balance, the body has literally sent a tearing bolt of electrical impulse into a muscle group causing it to spasm and cause temporary damage.
Of course this is one of the great benefits of SUP – the challenge of maintaining balance, offset by paddling hard to improve stability and increasing board speed. It could be said that when we are paddling it is a form of Active Yoga, as the position you form when paddling is fluid and moving, where stretching, rotating, flexing and maintaining balance are all being exercised dynamically. SUP Yoga is still being offered globally and Mistral where one of the original supporters of the concept and long may it continue to be offered as a genuinely challenging form of the art!