Sup Yoga

How to Start Practicing SUP AcroYoga with Jim and Sue

Standup Journal sits down with Sup AcroYoga pro’s Jim Gilligan and Sue Booth of SUPAcroYoga.com to tell us why they do it, and also give some tips for starting out and some gear they like to use and why.

How long have you and Sue been practicing yoga?
Shoulder StandJim has been practicing yoga for 26 years and became an RYT200 certified yoga teacher in 2012. Sue has been practicing yoga since 2009. Jim has been practicing AcroYoga since 2012 and Sue since 2013.

Is this something you started together or did you meet through practicing?
We actually met for the first time on an organized bike ride in 2011. We reconnected when Sue became interested in the AcroYoga MeetUp group Jim had started in 2012. We began practicing together and it was apparent pretty quickly that we made a good team.

What are the benefits/differences between Acro Yoga and regular yoga?

Reverse Throne

Reverse Throne

Whereas yoga practices generally draw a person inward and are intended to be very individual experiences, AcroYoga is teamwork oriented, relying on trust, balance, communication, and sensitivity between two people.

Tell me about how you started incorporating SUP into the routine… Was it something you just tried for fun and it took off from there?
We have been practicing AcroYoga (on land) together since July 2013. We brought our AcroYoga practice to SUPs during the summer of 2014, and began offering SUP AcroYoga classes. During the summer of 2015, we honed our partnership and practice on the boards, which culminated with our demonstrations at Surf Expo in Orlando in September. Michael Dolsey brought us to Florida to represent his boards at the Demo Day and in the SUP Demo Pool.

What tips do you have for someone wanting to take their yoga practice onto the water?
Foot 2 FootStart low! For example, “Bird” is usually one of the first positions learned in AcroYoga. On a paddleboard, “Bird on Hands” is a great first position. Other first poses to try are Candlestick, Ninja Crawl and Plank on Plank.

Do you need any special gear like an anchor?
We usually use an anchor so we don’t float away, but it’s not mandatory. What you don’t want is a paddle getting in the way of any falls. We leave the paddle on shore!

Where do you see this going in the future?
Barrel RollWe see SUP AcroYoga evolving as a unique sport and that’s why we share posts from all over the country and the world on our Instagram account @sup_acroyoga

As a pair, we are working toward leading workshops/retreats and teacher trainings, giving demos, organizing competitions, and promoting products. We have a wide reach with our social media and want to spread the SUP Acro love far and wide!

What board do you use and why?
Hand 2 Hand DetroitWe started on a Michael Dolsey Designs Bam Bam last summer and alternated between that board and the Dolsey Pescador. Being newbies, we enjoyed the stability of the 36″ wide Pescador. This spring, Michigan-based Pipeline Paddle Boards gave us one of their 11′ x 33″ Squid boards to use for the season. We were able to really elevate our practice on the Squid and work our way into poses and movements we hadn’t thought possible on a SUP.

Earlier this year, Jim led a workshop in Tulum, Mexico on Boga Yoga boards, using both inflatables and hard boards. All of the students were successful on the Boga Yoga boards. At Surf Expo we were back on Dolsey boards, enjoying both the Bam Bam and the PCG. We like to use boards that are also good paddlers and have settled on 33 – 34″ width as a nice compromise between good glide for paddling and stability for AcroYoga. We see boards getting wider and wider but we like the challenge of performing solid AcroYoga flows on actual paddling boards rather than specialty boards.

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