Work It Out: A must-try yoga sequence for river SUP (video) |

Work It Out: A must-try yoga sequence for river SUP (video)

Get yer SUP on

Both KODI Rafting of Frisco and Stand Up Paddle Colorado at the Dillon Marina offer guided SUP river trips on the Colorado River for paddlers of all levels. Call to set up a tour.

KODI Rafting

Phone | 970-760-0742

Web |

Stand Up Paddle Colorado

Phone | 970-680-4872

Web |

Ready to take your stand-up paddleboard on the river? Be sure to work on core strength and balance before you head into to those rapids — and maybe follow the lead of Kevin Howard, a senior guide at KODI Rafting who has been practicing yoga since 2012.

“I didn’t come to yoga for snow sports — I started yoga because of the muscle requirements to do paddle sports professionally,” Howard said. “Yoga helped me improve core stability and increase leg and shoulder strength.”

According to Howard, SUP on the river uses the same muscles as surfing or snowboarding. SUP river paddlers need balance, strength and range of motion in their ankles, legs, knees, hips and core. In five years of teaching SUP on the river, the guide said, “Balance is what throws people off the most.” That is why a SUP river yoga sequence will focus on moving between postures more than the postures themselves.

When you try the following sequence, focus on moving slowly and with fluidity from one posture to the next. A big hint: engaging your core, inner thighs and glutes is going to help you transition gracefully. Once you’re in the posture, be sure to press down into the big toe of your front leg — that will help tone the lower leg muscles that promote balance.

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1. Crescent lunge

Crescent lunge strengthens legs, improves balance and develops core awareness. It’s also a great posture to increase flexibility in your toes and the bottoms of your feet, which will help prevent plantar fasciitis after standing on a SUP board.

Stand tall, with feet at hip-width apart.

Take a big step back with your right foot, keeping your right heel lifted over the ball of your foot.

Bend your front knee until it is directly over your ankle.

Bring your arms overhead, with palms facing each other.

Gently encourage your right hip forward and draw your lower belly up.

Hold for 1-2 breaths before the transition.

2. Transition to Airplane

Airplane improves balance, strength, stability and focus. Balancing on one foot tones the muscles in your hip, leg and core, which are critical for stability on the water.

From Crescent Lunge:

Extend your arms back, with palms facing the floor.

Using your front leg muscles for power and your core muscles for stability, launch onto your front leg.

Bring your torso and your back leg parallel to the floor.

Hold for 1-2 breaths before the transition.

Not much for river SUP? No problem, try these 7 yoga poses for kayakers and rafters

3. Transition to One-legged Mountain

One-legged Mountain is a variation on the traditional mountain pose. Through this transition, keep your standing leg strong and your core active.

From Airplane pose:

Lift your torso to stack your shoulders and head over your hips

Lift your right knee to be as high as your hip.

Straighten your right leg and flex your right foot.

Hold for 1-2 breaths before the transition.

4. Transition to Figure-four pose

Figure-four pose opens your deep hip rotators while also challenging balance. This posture is great after sitting for a long time, but it also promotes stability for long stretches of rolling whitewater.

From One-legged mountain:

With your eyes forward, cross your right ankle over your left knee and flex your right foot.

Press your palms together.

Drop your hips down and back to sit into the pose. (For an additional challenge, press your right elbow into the arch of your right foot and twist your torso to the left.)

Hold for 1-2 breaths before reversing the sequence.

5. Reverse the sequence

Now, reverse out of each posture the same way you came in and end in Crescent Lunge. Repeat the entire sequence on the opposite side.

Pyramid pose

For even more balance training, plus a great stretch through the back of your leg, try this version of Pyramid posture. With only the pinkie finger resting on the floor, it is essential to engage your legs, core and inner thighs. (If this is too difficult, an alternative is to separate your hands and bring your fingertips to blocks or the mat on either side of your left foot.) As noted at the start of this article, be sure to press firmly into the big toe of the front leg for stability.

Stand with feet at hip-width apart.

Take a big step back with your right foot.

Rotate your right toes away from your body about 20 degrees.

Encourage (gently ease) your right hip forward.

Engage your core and press your palms together overhead

Fold forward over your left leg, eventually bringing your forehead to your left shin.

Press your pinkie finger into the floor.

Hold for 5-10 breaths.

Pinna Gallant is the owner of Peak Yoga, Dillon’s only dedicated yoga studio with classes designed to challenge both the body and the mind. Find out more about Peak Yoga at

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