So you are ready to move from the studio to the water and give stand up paddleboard (SUP) Yoga a try. That is great, but you may be wondering what to wear when you go out on your stand-up paddleboard to practice yoga. Well, here are my thoughts on what you should wear for SUP Yoga:
For stand up paddleboard yoga, it is okay to wear whatever makes you comfortable. There are no specialized SUP yoga clothes that you need. Just know that whatever you do wear might get wet from sweating, exertion, or falling into the water.
There are some special considerations to be aware of when doing yoga on a paddleboard, which I will discuss below. Always keep in mind though that yoga is not always about what you wear, but more about the movements of your body and your state of mind. Therefore, there are some personal preferences and external conditions that you will want to take into consideration when choosing your SUP Yoga clothes.
So, what should you wear? Well, let’s start at the bottom…your feet.
What Shoes Are Best for Sup Yoga?
Just like on dry land, your best bet here is bare feet.
Even if you like to paddle your SUP wearing water shoes or water sandals, it is better to remove them while doing yoga. You will have a better grip on your board or your mat with bare feet.
I have seen a few folks try SUP yoga in socks, and most of these people removed them before the end of the session. Nobody likes wet feet, even those who are embarrassed about how their feet look. Another consideration with wearing socks is the grip. It is much easier to grip your board or mat with bare feet than while wearing socks. So, wear your paddle shoes if you must get to the on-water studio, but go barefoot once there for your best results.
SUP Yoga Bottoms
Comfort and mobility are vital to choosing what pants to wear for SUP yoga. You want to be able to move (sometimes to extremes) without your pants getting in the way, falling off, or being too tight. For these reasons, the most common legwear for SUP yoga is yoga pants, athletic shorts, bikini bottom, and some capri pants, as long as they are moisture-wicking.
SUP Yoga Tops
It is essential to be comfortable and not self-conscious when practicing any type of yoga. You want to wear something that moves with your body or allows your body to move underneath it. Trendy tops for SUP yoga include moisture-wicking T-shirt or tank tops, sports bras, and Bikini tops. Topless is also a good choice for the guys or clothing-optional classes.
One thing to keep in mind about tops is that you might want it to be form-fitting or at least keep your loose shirt tucked in. A baggy T-shirt or tank top could slide down over your head or down to your chin when doing inverted poses like the downward-facing dog or the plow pose. Of course, if you don’t plan to be standing on your head, don’t worry about it.
SUP Yoga Clothes and the Weather
Let’s take a quick look at how the weather can affect your SUP yoga clothing choices because it will.
Of course, you can wear anything you want. Heck, you could put on an evening gown or a 3-piece suit and head out on the water. You probably wouldn’t be very comfortable, and you might not be able to practice all of your poses, but you could wear it. Like I said before, comfort is key. One thing that affects what you would want to wear while practicing SUP yoga is the weather. Let’s take a look.
When I think of SUP yoga, I think of a summer morning with warm temperatures and a pleasant breeze. The reality is that SUP yoga can be practiced in any kind of weather. You just have to dress for it.
In hot weather, you must also consider the effects of humidity and the sun when choosing what clothes to wear for SUP yoga.
Combating heat could be as easy as just wearing a bathing suit instead of yoga pants and top. If you do choose the pants or capris, you should choose a lighter color to reflect the sun’s rays. Darker tones will retain the heat better and make you less comfortable.
Moisture-wicking clothing is essential in humid areas, (like my home, Southeastern NC). They cost a bit more but do a much better job than heavier materials, like cotton, at removing moisture from your body and having it evaporate faster. Of course, some times the humidity is so high that you will stay soaked no matter what you wear.
Make sure you consider the sun, especially if you are out during peak hours, a lunchtime session, for example. Non-greasy sunscreen is a must, especially those of you, like me, who are light-skinned and burn easily. Sometimes, the sun is so powerful that I will wear long-sleeved moisture-wicking shirts and long pants with a high SPF rating. (These clothes were originally purchased for fishing in the blazing sun)
One of the great things about SUP yoga is that a cooling “slip” is always an option. If it is hot, humid, and sunny, why not just take a quick dip between poses. Tell your instructor I said it was okay.
Cold-weather SUP yoga comes with its own challenges. Now I don’t know about you, but I start thinking really hard about getting out on the water if once the temperature approaches freezing. Even then, safety is an issue. If you fall in almost freezing water, that could be life-threatening.
So, if we are talking about those kinds of temperatures (air and water), I would suggest a wet suit and booties with grip on them. I might even add some wetsuit gloves to keep your hands comfortable and a hood to keep my brain from freezing.
There are many different kinds of wet suits that you can use. There are different materials and thickness (ranging from 0.5mm to 7mm). Thickness affects the flexibility of the suit, but the thicker the material, the warmer it is. I have written a whole article on wet suits here if you want more information on choosing the right wet suit for your climate.
So, cold SUP yoga=Wet suit
What about Cool-weather SUP yoga? What if you want to do some SUP yoga where you don’t need to take life-saving measures if you fall in without a wet suit?
This is where comfort comes in again. You might want to pack away the bathing suit and break out some warmer clothes. The key here is to layer and always try to have a waterproof or water-resistant layer on the outside. I like to (depending on the temperature) wear either sweat pants with long johns (or both) under a light water-resistant pair of pants.
For my top, I will, again depending on temperature, wear a t-shirt, with a sweatshirt that I can remove if I get too warm, and a water-resistant windbreaker type outer shell. If the wind is blowing and it’s pretty chilly, I will opt for at least some thin water socks (booties), just to keep the cold edge off my feet.
The thing about cold weather SUP yoga is that if you fall in and get submerged entirely, that is most likely the end of your session. You would probably want to get dried off and back on land to warm up. So, keep that in mind too.
Keys to Comfort
You don’t want to let your clothes hinder your yoga practice. This hindrance can come from clothes that are too warm or not warm enough. Make sure you choose accordingly based on the temperature and make sure you layer.
Moisture can sometimes be the nemesis of comfort. Some people just don’t like to be wet. Moisture, along with ill-fitting clothes, can cause uncomfortable chafing when practicing certain moves. So, make sure to consider moisture-wicking garments for all types of yoga, and make sure your choices fit correctly.
Keys to Style
Now, some of you are saying, “Comfort, Shmumfort! I just wanna look good.” Well, take a look at some of the pictures of me up above. Yea, the old guy in breathable work pants. Do you really want style advice from that guy? I can’t help you there, but I will have a guest blogger who knows all the ins and outs of the “style” side of yoga.
So, go ahead, bend your knees on the Downward Facing Dog. Flex, when you should relax, just do it in STYLE!
Clothing Optional SUP Yoga
Yep, there are some clothing optional SUP yoga practices around the world. I don’t have any experience there, but just make sure it’s legal, or don’t get caught. Don’t forget the sunscreen and have fun.