What Are The Best Paddle Boards For Yoga
While some people turn to paddle boarding as a means of staying in shape, scratching that competitive itch, or a new way to fish, there are those that use it to achieve inner peace, calm and get a good stretch in. Yoga has been around in one form or another for millennia. Its origins are still being debated, but there is a general consensus that it came from the region of ancient India. The practice of the Yogis of old have been passed down through time, from practitioner to practitioner, and from master to student. Variations cropped up as people began to emphasize certain parts of the yoga of old. Less than ten years ago, paddle boarders took the ancient art to the water and a new experience was born.
Choosing a yoga stand up paddle board (SUP) can be surprisingly difficult. Not many companies build paddle boards specifically for yoga. The majority of them do, however, build boards that are designated as multi-use boards. These all-around boards are good for almost every activity, from small races to fishing to cruising, but they don’t really excel in any of them. Yoga is also included in the list of activities that these generalist paddle boards can be used for. Fortunately, when a paddler is in the market for a good yoga board they only need to keep in mind the following criteria.
Top Surface Area
Yoga requires the user to move, posture and stretch. When it comes to paddle boards this translates to space, or rather the lack of it. Therefore, a yoga paddle board must allow the user to comfortably manoeuvre their bodies on top of the board. What a rider needs to look for is a large top surface area in a yoga paddle board, specifically in the width department.
While beginners may want to go with a very stable board, a misconception with SUP yoga is that a stable board is mandatory. In fact, it can be argued that experienced users may get more out of their yoga session with a slightly unstable board. This requires them to not only focus more to maintain stability, but also engage a greater deal of muscles to maintain balance and posture, and avoid taking a spill into the water.
Ease of Use
The last thing a rider seeking inner peace, tranquility and relaxation needs, is a whole bunch of messing around with gear. A yoga paddle board should let the rider get out on the water as soon as possible. It should require very little to zero assembly, and cause little stress (both physically and mentally) to the rider.
With the Odysseus, Naish has brought to market a stout yet remarkably well rounded paddle board. The board tracks very well and moves fast over the water thanks to its multi-concave bottom. Paddlers looking to do a bit of yoga on the Odysseus will have plenty of space to move around in. The dimensions of the board give it a nice blend of stability and movement, which means that it can provide the challenge that budding yoga practitioners may be looking for.
The single piece Naish Odysseus is comprised of fiberglass and actually weighs less than most of its competition of the same size. This also makes it easy to transport from point A to B, namely from a car to the water’s edge. However, its larger than usual width does make it a bit cumbersome to carry and handle, unless you have the wingspan of a basketball player.
The Weekender is an unapologetic cruiser, but the same design that allows it to glide effortlessly over the water also makes it a great paddle board for those looking to take a pause in their paddling and assume the downward dog position. Inflatable boards are portable, but are not usually that convenient due to their bulky nature when rolled up. However, Ten Toes tempered this by giving the rider the ability to remove the boards 3 fins, which makes it so much easier to roll and store away.
The Weekender’s wide body definitely gives it that cruiser look, but it also makes it a great platform for yoga. This board is also considered short for a cruiser but this translates into a great yoga experience as it gives the practitioner just enough instability to engage their muscles and balance. However, as with other boards in its category, the boards stout design will make it difficult to take on rougher waters. As its name suggests, this board is something to be taken out on those seemingly lazy, calm and placid weekends.
BIC has really made a name for itself in the industry as a provider of quality paddle boards. And, with the Sport Ace-Tec Cross it has presented to the world a lightweight SUP that can practically do it all. The Cross moves through the water like a cruiser or entry-level touring board, but has the stability of a fishing platform. This combination also makes it an excellent option for those looking to do some yoga on a paddle board. Yes, it has the flat surface real estate needed to get a good workout in. Yes, it provides enough instability to keep things interesting. But it also possesses a full length, nose to tail, wave-grooved pad that not only keeps the paddler glued to the deck, but makes using the paddle board for multiple hours comfortable.
But, like with most stiff lightweight boards, the user must pay attention to taking care of the board. Dropping it on hard surfaces or getting up close and personal with jagged rocks should be avoided at all costs, as the slightest damage can compromise the boards integrity.
Surftech comes through yet again with their spec built yoga SUP which was aptly named the YPGA-Versal. This paddle board is only one of a handful of purposefully built paddle boards for yoga. Constructed of fiberglass, this board is remarkably lightweight (at around 30-pounds), but also very stable. Thanks to its 32-inch width, the boards surface area gives the rider enough space to stretch out and hit their poses without compromising their form or balance.
The single piece hard board is very easy to manoeuvre thanks to its lightweight build, but this also means that the user must take great caution as the board may be susceptible to damage if it makes contact with hard surfaces or jagged rocks. Remember that this board was pretty much made to sit still on the water’s surface and not much else. It flows and glides well, but don’t even think about taking it anywhere near whitewater.
An 11-foot inflatable, Atoll’s paddle board feels and acts like a high quality hard board when on the water. On top of this, Atoll utilized some manufacturing witchcraft to decrease the weight of their board by 30%, compared to its closest competitors. Considered an ultralight inflatable, this board flies over the water, but its dimensions gives it a great deal of stability. There is no doubt that a yoga practitioner will have all the space they need to hit their postures.
However, the Atoll 11-footer may be a bit too stable and won’t offer that much of a stability challenge to yogis. But, this does make it a perfect board for beginner and novices who are just getting into the activity of yoga SUP.
For added convenience, Atoll has included a high-pressure bravo dual action, which means that the paddle board is being filled with every push and pull of the pump, meaning less time on land and more time on the water. This also means that less energy is expended on merely trying to fill the board with air. The board is a bit rough around the edges, but this small blemish in its reputation is overshadowed by all the positives it brings to the table.
Riders looking for a paddle board dedicated to practicing yoga are often surprised at how difficult it can be to find a good board that will suit their needs, and also how the parameters of a yoga SUP are drastically different than other styles of paddle boards. The board is in a way a reflection of the activities that take place upon it. It must be large enough to move on, but nimble enough to provide a challenge. It must be built solidly but must be stress-free to use.
Which is why the BIC Sport ACE-TEC Cross tops the list of paddle boards for yoga. It merges the qualities of a great paddling board with the unique characteristics of a yoga board. It practically holds the riders foot in place with its foam mat and allows them to focus on their movements and poses.