We live in a wonderful age where fitness and shedding those few kg’s can be fun!
My preference for keeping in shape has always been to do it through an activity. I never liked the idea of working out inside or my view being a mirror image of myself or another, so I never once stepped foot in a gym.
Instead, I chose to find workouts that I could do outside; my view is an ocean, trees – anything is better than the testosterone filled walls of a gym.
Thanks to some creative minds a lot of sports can be combined, making it also fun!
Such as – rock-climbing with a parachute so you can base jump at the top – or like what I’m about to educate you on – doing yoga sequences on a standup paddleboard (SUP).
Little may you know, but in those few paragraphs I just dialed out an equation
Fitness + Fun + Outdoors = SUP Yoga
Now what I more want to get into is how you can use this also to lose weight and not just in the way that will help you shed kgs, it will help you keep it off. We all at one point or another would like to tone up, shed a few of those late night ice cream binges, so let’s do it while we’re having fun and can appreciate being in the outdoors.
SUP YOGA FOR WEIGHT LOSS – THE SCIENCE
Let’s get into the science first. How does SUP yoga make you lose weight? I’m not going to try to make out that SUP yoga is like one of those miracles “Eat all the chocolate cake you want and still lose weight” diets. As a bit of a health nut, I’m going to be honest (because I care about you) and say it’s not just working out that makes you lose weight.
You need to team –
- A regular workout
- A consistent healthy diet
- An overall good attitude
If anyone of these three is missing, chances are it’s two buddies won’t be able to pull the extra weight. Literally.
So now I’ve made my disclaimer (I’m not a dietician, this is just a personal opinion), I’m going to educate you how weight loss can be achieved through SUP yoga as well as providing you with a solution for maintaining a long-term healthy weight.
The Stress Reducer
One (somewhat overlooked) perspective, is the stress relief of SUP yoga and how that is directly linked to losing weight. Yoga in itself relieves a lot of stress by making us slow down, breathe and stretch out any aches and pain. The adding element of doing it on a SUP allows you to float into a dreamy, relaxed state while listening to the gentle lapping of water at your side. The extra required concentration for balance with some poses also requires our minds to zone in on our practice and switch off from whatever is making us stressed.
When we become stressed a chemical called cortisol is released in large amounts. Cortisol is responsible for ensuring a slow release of energy from our food but when we have too much cortisol in our system food will be stored as a fat, this is because when we are stressed our bodies believe we are going to starve. A bit over the top? It goes back to when we didn’t always have food readily available (which would make us stressed), it was a way of our bodies ensuring whatever food we had was optimized converted to energy. If you want to nerd out on this more, you can find out more information here.
So there are direct links to why lowering stress levels is beneficial to weight loss, as we practice to be less stressed we optimize how our bodies digest –
- Increased insulin sensitivity which is a signal to burn food rather than store it as fat
- Lowers cortisol levels which provide more room for an increase in insulin
Though no stress doesn’t mean you can lose weight AND eat chocolate all day! This theory of we will succeed by only doing 1/3 of what it takes to lose weight is a prime example of where we have been misinformed. It needs to be highlighted that a good diet paired with low-stress levels and regular exercise is more beneficial to our weight goals.
So take some deep breaths and relax those pesky side saddles away!
The more obvious reason is the calories we can burn while doing SUP yoga. The average paddleboarding session if just cruising is about 400 calories per hour, double that or more if you are racing/surfing.
Add about another 150 calories onto that, and now you are looking at burning 600 calories and up in your paddleboard yoga session. Only 100 calories shy of equalling a CrossFit workout. You could easily make those extra calories happen with a short intensive paddle at the end of your practice too!
Most days I’d happily be floating out on the water “saluting the sun” over getting my ass handed to me by a woman that I think has more muscle than most men I know. ( I’m talking about a Crossfit trainer who tried to get me to come to her classes, but I became so intimidated and scared of her scarily military level attitude of “no pain no gain” I never made it to the class )
Again I’ll reiterate that burning calories may not do much if you are ingesting triple the amount you are burning. So keep an eye on that intake!
There is an increased need for body awareness when doing SUP yoga, simply because it helps us from falling off every minute. I don’t think I need to explain why SUP Yoga particularly requires more balance than the average SUP outing or Yoga class.
Being able to read what’s going on in your body helps tune you into balance. Mostly when you hear someone talking about balance training, they are learning how to read the signals in their movement that are making them feel unbalanced, learning to do so gives the opportunity to control how we react. Most of the time our reaction is to wobble back the other way too much and fall over. Cutting this reaction back a few centimeters increases our balance.
Increased body awareness also works for our digestive system. There is a common problem shared by people trying to lose weight that is that they struggle with “feeling full.” Increased body awareness can also help with identifying the feeling you’ve had enough food.
It is in a conscious way this feeling is done.
Eg. You start to wonder why you feel hungry even after eating. Is it maybe because you are feeling anxious about something?… thus stopping the issues by becoming aware of the habits causing the problems!
Becoming a bit friendlier with your body helps boost self-esteem too; low self-esteem and the problems it raises can be the cause of many people’s weight gain.
SUP Yoga For Weight Loss – The Fluffy Side
When you start doing yoga on your SUP, I can guarantee a wave of satisfaction will start to swarm over you. I’m talking from experience here.
The sun on your face and body, the water surrounding you – it draws you back into nature. The sounds that surround you as you fall into a deep concentration trying to do a lunge, only to be met with a fit of laughter when you fall off into the water. This whole experience makes for a fun and friendly workout.
A guaranteed way to weight loss is happiness. You find a way to lose weight that makes you feel happy and healthy; it soon will become a passion, who knows even a career! And there isn’t much of a happier place for me than out on the water doing some stretching on my SUP!
So Now You Want To Try!
Like I’ve reiterated a few times throughout this article, SUP Yoga is not the one and all answer to your weight loss, it needs to be paired with a healthy diet and a proper mindset. One thing to be said though is that doing SUP yoga regularly will help your mindset and will also contribute to a cut down (less cortisol in the system) on those cravings for sugars and all the naughty things.
Here’s to hoping this article brightened your day and left a fulfilling hope inside of you to get out there or even to encourage someone else!
Justin Taylor, Head Paddler
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