Being on the water in your kayak can be both a blissful and energizing experience. Combine this with a yoga class prior to paddling or after a paddle, it is the ultimate way to enjoy your time on the water. Up here in Big Bear, we enjoy a lake and all of the outside activities that go along with it.

A Kiyoga class focuses on water and body awareness, strength and flexibility for paddlers. Creating flexibility and strength in your arms, shoulders, back muscles, hips and legs, will prepare you to sit comfortably in your kayak. Also working on body rotation, the secret to easy paddling. Breathing techniques will help to reinforce the place of stillness and calm that you are ultimately looking for when you take your boat out on the water. Not only for kayakers, but all water sports and yoga students too.

Classes may include information about injury prevention, stretching and strength building for kayakers and canoers alike. Enhance your paddling with increased strength and flexibility. Learn what yoga poses and stretches to do prior to paddling.

Strengthen your paddling with increased strength and flexibility. Paddling can be adopted as a lifelong activity that develops overall body fitness with proper technique while enjoying the natural environment. The blending of yoga and kayaking is complimentary – both work on motion with stillness, flexibility, strength and the breath. The emphasis of the kayak and yoga class will be to awaken the mind and body with asana that will prepare you for the physical and mental aspects of paddling as well as to set the tone of awareness. Yoga poses to prepare you to sit comfortable in your kayak and avioid injury. This class will help you warm up and stay happy in your boat after you’re on the water.

Prior paddling experience is not necessary for attending a Kiyoga class, and class can benefit all students. In a Kiyoga class you may need to bring a paddle (canoe or kayak) if possible.

Sample Kiyoga Class Sequence – Props Needed: 2 chairs and a paddle (or walking stick)

Start seated in a chair. Extend legs to 2nd chair facing you. Place hands on belly and feel the breath… Imagine that you are sitting in your boat on the lake. Noticing the points of contact in your boat – your sitbones, outside of knees, heels/toes. Feel the water beneath you, lightly caressing your boat. Hear the water softly moving against the sides of your boat, rocking you. Feel yourself sitting strong and yet soft, letting the water move around you. Can you feel the gentle breeze on your face? Sun on your shoulders? Invite yourself to feel comfortable, safe and confident here. Invite the water to nourish your spirit. In your mind’s eye, see yourself just enjoying to float there without worry or concern. No need to quickly do anything. You are perfectly floating. Let your shoulders relax, and bring hands up to chest. Inhale arms up overhead exhale release to prayer and bow head.
Side Streatch
Forward Bend
Pick up your paddle and close your eyes. Do a couple forward strokes, just feeling moving the paddle. Don’t be overly concerned with technique – we are just sitting in chairs afterall! Feel the movement, flowing from paddling on the right to left, feel yourself sitting into the chair, letting your body twist with the movement. Warming up the torso without any resistence on the paddle.
Repeat with paddling backward.
Come to center, open your eyes, inhale the paddle up overhead, hold and breath – press to the rear and breath – exhale down in front. Repeat (exhale down in back if it feels good.)
It is important to keep your shoulders and upper back flexible and strong.
Side stretch with paddle overhead
Side stretch with one end of paddle on the floor
Prep for rolling twist – press arm into opposite knee for twist
Exhale release
Practice your strokes – draw storkes, sweep strokes, bow draw, etc.
Turn head and body first, then follow with paddle
Move chair infront of you away
Tricep dips – use paddle behind you if you like.
Stretch wrists
(Stand or seated – hip openers!) If you spend any time sitting in a canoe, kayak or white water raft you know that it can get pretty uncomfortable on your hips and legs. The next poses are to increase flexibility and strength to help you sit in your boat more comfortably. Keep in mind that one of the original purposes for yoga was to increase strength, flexibility and stamina so that people could sit and meditate for long periods of time – these same poses can help us sit in our boats for long periods of time.
Thread the needle (in chair or standing) – use paddle for balance
A few options:
Stand up and grab your paddle – right angle pose (modified down dog – would be on the wall) – bend one knee into the chest and extend behind – lunge using paddle for balance – tree pose with paddle for balance (actually try paddling a few strokes!), Triangle pose with paddle – plant tip of paddle at an angle out and push out as slide over, Star pose – plant paddle at an angle out from you and press out on it as you fold over, walking hands down as far as you feel comfortable – plant right hand on floor, tip of paddle next to hand and slide left hand up the paddle for stretch – other side – reach forward with paddle and press into paddle to roll yourself up – While standing in star pose, plant blade next to outside of your foot, Twist and reach to right and left – opposite hand to paddle – *Only works with kayak paddle.
Push-ups at wall or chair or floor
Plank / down dog/ up dog / sun salutation – working flexibility of arms, shoulders, legs – strengthen back – go between up and down dog.
Spinal udulations – “spinal breathing” – keeping the spine flexible – for comfortable posture – hips back / tuck under, etc. Start with hands behind head, rolling torso front and back. Continue the movement and move hands to knees, involving whole torso to hips, moving like a wave. This is considered a “spinal cord enliving” exercise – increasing spinal cord fluid through out the spine and all of the joints. Syncronize the movement with breath – inhale opening the chest, exhale, bringing chin into the chest – clearning out stress and tension from your back. Feel yourself getting more flexbible with each breath.
“Bear swimming in the ocean” – Start palms face up in front of the chest – extend forward, circle arms back slightly behind you and forward again – This movement also energises the lungs.
Palm Tree – twisting right and left
Start Palms facing up, Inhale the arms up in front, palms up – reach up – exhale and bring the arms down – increasing lung capacity – open the chest, take nice, deep breaths.
Ear to shoulder, take same hand, cup ear, press head into ear and realese – other side – strenghtening neck and shoulder muscles for head snap in eskimo roll
Hands in prayer, upside down, behind the back – circle neck – feel the muscles relax and melt and flow away.
Practice getting in and out of boat using paddle
Working core for torso paddle storkes – navasana – forward fold (rolling)
Dog wagging tail – table pose – cat cow – then wagging tail – creating movement in the spine and working the same positions in an Eskimo roll – drawing the hip up – go as slow or as quickly as you would like.
BadhaKonasana – rolling down and reaching up with head and neck – stretching almost every major muscle in the body. Opening the neck and shoulders. Spread feet apart a little bit and massage your feet.
Side Stretch
Laying on back – knees to chest –
Hands on knees/thighs, press hands into knees and knees into hands, tuck chin into chest – working abs-
twist – relax into support of floor. Waves flowing over you –
OR – Bamboo in the wind/ water – gently swaying back and forth, imagining the water gently surrounding your feet…
Additional postures for shoulders:
Triangle, rotated triangle, extended side angle pose, rotated extended side angle pose, Virabhadrasana I (lunge), Virabhadrasana II (warrior pose), Vir III (knee into chest and leg behind with arms extended), ArdhaChandrasana (half moon pose), Parsvottanasana (Extended Side angle pose), headstand, shoulder stand, plow, bow, up dog, down dog, kneeling (sit between feet, extend hands infront of knees), interlace fingers infront of face and push out and up to sky, half lotas balancing and fold over, (and sitting down – or janushirshasana), intense west side stretch (fold over extended legs sitting), Gomukhasana (clasping hands behind back, r elbow pointing up and left down – opposite arm as leg), hand stand, balancing on right or left hand and edge of foot, rooster pose, seated twist (one leg extended), camel.