SUP (standup paddleboard) yoga, which got its start in Hawaii and the west coast of the United States, is starting to catch on in Japan. In SUP yoga, you do yoga poses while standing on a large paddleboard floating in the ocean. While traditional yoga done in a studio has you face inwards towards yourself, SUP yoga, which is done under the sun and on the ocean, allows you to experience the sensation of mind and body being freed within the vastness of nature.
Because you have to balance on an unstable paddleboard, SUP yoga is effective as core training. In addition to the low impact inner muscle training it provides, striking yoga poses also increases your flexibility, helping you build a supple, well-balanced body.
Breathing to absorb the positive energy of the outer world is an important concept in the world of yoga. In other words, it’s important to practice yoga in a place full of positive energy. We recommend the Nanjo Chinen area, which is located in the southern region of Okinawa main island.
Nachura, a SUP yoga shop in the area, provides lessons that can be enjoyed even by beginners. Since the board, paddle, and other equipment are provided, all you need is your swimsuit! Don’t worry if you aren’t confident in your standup paddleboard or yoga skills; their veteran instructor will provide you with instruction appropriate for your skill level.
“It’s difficult even for people who have done yoga before to immediately stand up and start striking poses. We start students off with sitting poses and gradually get them used to SUP yoga,” says instructor Eiichi Tanaka. Students start off with the most basic of yoga poses, Sukha Asana (the cross-legged meditation pose) and gradually increase the difficulty level as they get a feel for balancing on the water.
Once you’ve gotten a feel for balancing on the ocean, it’s time to try some standing poses! Relax your body with poses like Adho Mukha Svanasana (the downward-facing dog pose), which is effective at recovery from fatigue, as well as stretching your shoulders, back, and calves, and Virabhadrasana (the warrior pose), which is good for firming up your waist and stretching your legs. You will occasionally lose your balance and fall in the ocean, but that’s part of the appeal of SUP yoga. “You’ll relax after you fall in the ocean once, and then you’ll actually want to try even more poses,” says Tanaka. As you strike yoga poses on the ocean, your breathing will eventually sync with the rhythm of the waves, and you’ll be able to feel the sensation of becoming one with the ocean. Experience the supreme bliss of melting into the vastness of nature for yourself!
Address: 405-5 Kudeken, Chinen, Nanjo City, Okinawa Prefecture
Reception Hours: 11:00-17:00
Fee: 5,000 Yen (Beginner SUP Yoga Course)
Language: Japanese Only
Lessons are held three times per day, at 11:00, 13:00, 15:00. Each course takes about 1.5 hours. Fees include board, paddle, and lifejacket rental, drinks, your guide, and insurance. A roughly two hour-long course combining SUP Yoga and a cruise is also offered (7,000 Yen).