Photograph by Alexandra Baackes

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Stand-up paddleboard yoga blends fitness and relaxation.

Photograph by Alexandra Baackes

Florida by Water: Try SUP Yoga

Florida is the perfect place to combine a workout and meditation with stand-up paddleboard yoga.

Yoga and SUP are a natural combination. Both practices build balance and core strength, require focus, and can awaken the senses—particularly if you fall out of a yoga pose and into the water. Many SUP outfitters now offer yoga classes blending relaxation, fitness, and Florida's natural beauty.

Urban Kai Stand-Up Paddleboarding, Tampa

There are two yoga-paddle options at Urban Kai, an SUP rental and lessons outfitter located in the heart of downtown Tampa. There, the urban setting is surprisingly Zenlike: calm Hillsborough River waters, diverse wildlife (including dolphins, ospreys, and the occasional manatee), and, to the north of the SUP river launch site, grand, moss-covered cypress trees and swaying cattails lining the riverbanks. Option one, if you're ready to move completely from the mat to the board, is to try Yoga on Water, or YOW, held entirely on the Hillsborough River. If you're downward facing dog isn't seaworthy quite yet, option two is a Paddle and Yoga class. The program includes 30 minutes of yoga and meditation practice on Davis Island Beach, 30 minutes of paddleboarding, and a 15-minute cool down and stretch. Basic paddleboarding and yoga skills are helpful, but not required, for either class. Also, private SUP yoga sessions are available with Urban Kai's certified yoga instructors.

First Coast SUP, St. Augustine

First Coast SUP specializes in fitness and yoga on SUPs. "We created our own SUP yoga classes with certified yoga instructors who had very little SUP experience," says Eddie Toy, First Coast SUP founder and lead instructor. "As a result, our classes can be very beginner friendly, or we can step it up for more experienced fitness enthusiasts or yogis." Each class starts with an introduction to SUP, including the basic paddle stroke and turns. Then it's on to SUP yoga: breathing exercises to get centered, basic postures performed down close to the board to loosen up, a series of asanas (such as plank, cobra, and downward facing dog) performed one after the other without rest. "We usually end with eyes closed in savasana as the instructor speaks an affirmation and gives thanks for a beautiful day out on the water," says Toy.

Sunrise Paddleboards, Middle River, Fort Lauderdale

"There's nothing like performing yoga on the water," says Brian Galton, founder of Sunrise Paddleboards. "Our Paddleboard Yoga classes allow your mind to reach the ultimate high: combining core techniques with breathing exercises to maximize the mind-body benefits and adapting to the water, allowing our mind, body, and spirit to flow." Paddleboard yoga sessions are offered by advance reservation only and can be customized to match specific fitness levels and types of yoga, including ashtanga, vinyasa, gentle hatha, prenatal, restorative, and meditation.