11 Feb A Kayaking Yoga Routine – Yoga for Paddlers
By Staffer Lena Wilson
In this post we will cover how to do yoga in your kayak – yoga for paddlers! We call it KOGA. (And if you wish to learn about hosting your own Yoga, Health & Wellness Retreat at Keweenaw Adventure Company… CLICK HERE!)
Learning how to levitate your paddle takes many hours of sunset meditation. Naw, naw, naw – just kidding. This is a sibling post to A Mountain Bike Yoga Routine post. There is some similarity in poses and language.
Here I will cover a routine that can assist with your adventurous, repetitive motion paddling endeavors (e.g. sea kayaking, canoeing, stand-up-paddle boarding), whether here in Copper Harbor. Michigan or elsewhere! These poses are intended to be accessible for all flexibility levels and possibly to help you gain more flexibility over time. Do this routine before and/or after your activity. If practiced in order this list can serve as a Hatha Yoga Routine organized by focus area. You can choose to practice in the order presented here or choose the areas you’d like to focus on.
Some of these moves may seem simple, but the key here is slow movement with awareness. Move slowly, yearn for good posture, try to feel every part of the body. Even when you think you’ve got it, start from the beginning again and see how you are moving, how slow, how complete. In the links provided, don’t worry about looking just like the pictures- you do you and simply aim towards the pose.
- do this routine before and/or after your activity
- practice in the order presented here as a routine
- choose a few from each category
- do just one category at a time
- start with what is accessible to you and build up – don’t worry about getting everything at first
Sea Kayaking & Yoga: Yoga for Paddlers
1. Base Pose
2. Those Hips
All that sitting in kayaking can actually cause some serious tightness and/or agitation. Slowing down and assisting your legs through some motions can really rejuvenate in both cases.
- Ardha Titaliasana
- Shroni Chakra
- Bound Angle (can do reclined/laying down too) – I call this butterfly (here’s an alternative approach – do just stage 1)
While you are encouraged to paddle with a loose grip, sometimes one ends up gripping. If you paddle feathered, these wrist moves are particularly helpful.
4. Dat Back
In kayaking the low back can get pretty darn sore. There is a lot of core rotation and not a lot of back support.
- Child’s pose
- Standing forward fold – if you can’t achieve the spinal traction… then you may just be working on opening the hamstrings (here’s another example – see dangle tip below)
- Add Chest/Shoulder opener if you like
5. Legs, Glutes, and Beyond! (Also Getting Those Hips a Bit More)
- Downdog – I can’t stress enough: bend your knees! If you’re hamstrings are tight don’t do this… DO THIS! work them leggies!
- Pigeon – if you really want to get into it, here’s a video. Otherwise just start with Leg Cradle/Supine Pigeon
- Wide Legged Seated Fold – if your hamstrings are tight bring your legs closer together and don’t worry about getting the belly to the floor!
- Janu Sirsasana
- Seated forward fold – if your hamstrings are tight… bend your knees!
The seated forward fold can be a nice release for back, neck, and shoulder tension if you’re able to sit with legs and back straight. As an alternative with tight legs you can dangle as described below and do other stretches to release hamstrings.
6. Shoulders and Neck
There are endless simple neck and shoulder movements/exercises you can do – physical therapy has a lot of great tips if you do some research on dealing with neck pain. Always be gentle with the neck!
Dangle Tip: Hang from a barre or tree branch. Especially nice if you have tight hamstrings and need to relieve pressure in the low back. Also strengthens wrists, and encourages youthful mindset. Start with 1 sec, then 5 secs, then maybe up to 30 sec eventually… don’t stress. As you hang try to let your whole body relax, especially the butt and hips.
Last Notes: If you have serious injuries or have had a serious accident, please take extra caution. As they always say, consult your physician or health practitioner. Lastly, different systems/lineages of yoga use different names for the poses and here the author as used what is familiar to them.