Every surfer knows the importance of building strength and stability. However, what most people don’t realise is that yoga is one of the most effective ways to achieve this. Increasing flexibility, strength, and balance, yoga compliments surfing perfectly. Additionally, the exercise teaches concentration and breathing techniques, which also benefit surfers when in action. Learning how to breathe correctly allows surfers to hold positions for longer and remain calm, cool, and collected when faced with a large wave. In this article, we explore yoga for surfers in more detail. Before getting started, it’s worth picking up some comfortable yoga clothes. Flexible material will allow the body to stretch further without restriction and allow surfers to get the most from their practice.
One of the most famous yoga poses of all time, Downward Facing Dog benefits the entire body. With this in mind, it’s a favourite amongst surfers hoping to build strength and flexibility. To practice the asana, stand on your mat with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bending at the waist, slowly lower your torso forward until your body forms a triangle. Your hands and feet should now both be touching the ground. If your shoulders or hamstrings feel too tight for the pose, bending your knees can make the posture a little easier. Spreading your fingers for additional balance, move your head forward until it is in-between your upper arms. You are in Downward Dog. Hold the pose for around 30 seconds whilst breathing deeply.
Focusing on the lower half of the body, Garland Pose helps to open the hips and stretch the back of the legs. When in the water for long periods of time, it’s not unusual to suffer from cramp. Garland Pose strengthens the back of the legs to prevent cramp from occurring. To practice the asana, stand tall with your feet directly beneath your hips. Keeping your spine straight, draw your hips back and down as if you’re sitting in a chair. You are in Garland Pose. For best results, bring your hips as low as you can without bending your spine. If you’re struggling with the pose, try placing a rolled-up towel beneath your heels to stop them from lifting off the ground.
When performed correctly, Warrior Pose is similar to the position surfers use to balance on their board. In addition to creating better posture, this asana strengthens the bottom half of the body to increase stability when in the waves. To practice Warrior Pose, stand on your mat with your feet directly beneath your hips. Step your right foot forward until your feet are around 4 feet apart. Keeping your palms facing down, raise your arms out to your sides until they are parallel to the floor. Next, turn your left foot out to the left by 90 degrees while keeping your right foot facing forward. Your left and right heel should now be aligned. Next, bend your right knee over your right ankle, keeping your shin perpendicular to the ground. Draw your left leg backward until your left thigh is parallel to the floor. Your shoulders should remain directly above the hips. Pressing your tailbone forward slightly, turn your head to the left and gaze over your fingers. You are in Warrior Pose. Hold the posture for around 45 seconds whilst breathing deeply to deepen the stretch.
Boat Pose is great for strengthening the abdominal muscles. A strong core allows surfers to maintain bal-ance on the board – even on the biggest waves! To hold this pose for a sufficient amount of time, remember to breathe deeply throughout.
To perform Boat Pose, sit down on your mat with your legs out in front of you. Place your hands on the floor behind your hips with your fingertips are pointing towards your feet. Press your palms firmly into the ground and straighten your arms. With a straight back, gently lean back and lift your feet off the ground until your shins are parallel to the floor. As you lift your chest, lengthen the front of your torso. Finally, extend both arms forward until they are in line with your shoulders. You are in Boat Pose. Hold the pose for 30 seconds whilst breathing deeply. For a deeper stretch, draw your chin into your chest. This will bring the base of your skull away from the neck to increase the stretch.
A popular restorative posture, Happy Baby Pose is ideal to finish on. As the asana releases tension in the hips, hamstrings, and back, surfers can enjoy maximum flexibility when on the board. Additionally, Happy Baby Pose is great for relaxing the mind; this makes it ideal to practice before heading to bed. To practice the asana, lie flat on your back with your knees bent. Gently grab your feet and begin to rock from side to side. This motion will increase the stretch in your lower back. Additionally, the rocking movement is great for relaxing the mind.
Whether you’re hoping to become more flexible or you’re more interested in increasing your strength, the yoga poses above are ideal for surfers. If you’re a yoga newbie, consider attending a local class. There, an experienced teacher will be able to guide you through the postures to ensure your form is correct. In addition to preventing injury, the correct form will allow you to get the most from each asana. Before heading to your class, pack your yoga bag with a comfy yoga mat and a bottle of fresh water. Though some sessions may provide communal mats, taking your own will ensure you avoid disappointment!