A balancing act: Insider tips for mastering paddleboard yoga

Paddleboard yoga might seem like a true test of balance and one saved for the professionals, but instructor Josh Rea says even novice yogis enjoy the floating workshop.

And this summer, Yoga Planet Studio took Rochester residents from the mat to the water as the studio hosted their first paddleboard yoga session at Stony Creek Metro Park in July.

sup yoga

Instructor Josh Rea poses for a quick photo with other participants of the first Yoga Planet Studio paddleboard yoga workshop at Stony Creek Metro Park earlier this summer.

“It was successful,” said Bobby Maldonado, owner of Yoga Planet Studio. “Any time we can offer interesting ways for people to practice yoga, we’re happy to do that.”

With 12 participants, their first workshop included a prep course, transportation to and from the park, a 1-hour session of stand up paddleboard yoga followed by refreshments.

“It’s a great practice,” said Josh Rea, yoga instructor with the studio. “It’s great for people who have practiced yoga for years and even for people who’ve never practiced it before.”

There are certain movements, or what Rea calls engagements in the body, “like inwardly rotating your forearms while rolling your shoulders down,” when you’re on a paddleboard that you have to do or you’re going to feel unsteady and unbalanced, he said. “(It’s) kind of like a sink or swim type deal.”

But for Rea, it was a natural transition from the studio to the lake. Since he was an adolescent, Rea has been kayaking. He used to train other kayakers how to do Eskimo rolls (or flip upside down on the kayak and flip back up, he said).

“So when I started doing yoga and then (I learned) there’s paddleboard yoga, I was like ‘whoa, I should be doing that!’”

Picture 1Instructor insiders

Here are some of Rea’s favorite pieces of advice when it comes to yoga on the water.

Dress for the elements. Rain (hopefully not), wind, sun, beach and space. Wear clothes that you’d feel comfortable camping in. Fleece acts as a great insulator and is warm—cotton not so much.  If it’s going to be a sunny day, dress for an afternoon at the pool. We typically meet at Eastwood Beach (in Stony Creek Metro Park), but have moved to Mt. Vernon beach in the past due to weather conditions.

Bring water and possibly a light snack for before or after your class.

Come with an open mind and a sense of humor.

Basic movements. When paddling or practicing yoga on a stand up paddleboard, it’s important incorporate the key engagements or locks of yoga asana (posture) in order to find the sweet spot or effortless effort. If you’re new to the practice of yoga asana, you’ll find these engagements out of necessity in order to maintain balance on the board.

Life jacket is optional. “People often ask how deep the water is,” he said, “where we set up and practice yoga, it’s waist-deep. You can stand up if you fall in.”

Be sure to check out www.YogaPlanetStudio.com for upcoming paddleboard classes.

Don’t miss our personal account of writer Meghan Zeile’s first experience on a paddleboard on the side!

About Jen Bucciarelli

Veggie lover and aspiring word chef, reporter Jen Bucciarelli covers all things health and medicine for Rochester Media and The Community Edge. She is always on the hunt for local experts who can help improve the lives of our readers. Send her a note at JenBucciarelli@gmail.com.


  1. Jameel Johnson says

    This looks like it would be so much fun! Doing yoga on a paddle board sounds like a great time. This is something that I am going to recommend to my wife. She both loves yoga and the water. Maybe I’ll surprise her with a paddle board for our anniversary. http://nocqua.com/

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