At first glance, surfing and yoga may not look like the perfect match. Surfing is all about getting on top on a surf board and riding the waves. But what does this have to do with yoga?
If you took a closer look at the two activities you would start to see that there is more than meets the eye.
When you are surfing, you exert a lot of pressure on your body trying to keep yourself balance. The lower back, the chest cavity, the legs and the arms in particular feel the most strain. This causes your body to close off.
There are many benefits of yoga for surfers with the goal of allowing your body to open up and to regain its natural state.
These are the 4 essential poses every surfer should try.
1. Adho Mukha Savasana—the downward facing dog
One of the main benefits of this pose is that it stretches the shoulders and lengthens the hamstrings. The arches of the feet and the hands are also stretched. Due to always trying to maintain balance on the surfboard the legs may feel a bit stiff.
The downwards facing dog also stretches the back legs and hamstrings helping you to relax and get ready for the next time you head out surfing.
Another major benefit is that it allows you to stretch and elongate the spine which helps you remove the tension from back side. It also opens up the chest muscles allowing deeper breathing and more relaxation. Heading out surfing when relaxed will allow you to remain focused and fully aware of your surrounding thus keeping you safe.
This pose is also very effective at relieving fatigue and backpain while also energizing the body. Your nervous system and brain also calm down.
The first step will be to get down with your hands and knees to the floor. Position your knees under the hips and ensure they are apart the same distance as the width of your hips. Your wrists should also be positioned under your shoulders. The wrists should be set at shoulder width apart from each other. Ensure that your index fingers are parallel and spread at your palms.
Take a deep breath and as your exhale lift yourself off the floor by getting your knees out of contact with the floor. With the knees bent slightly lift up your tail bone to the sky. All the while you should be maintaining your breathing. While exhaling push back your quadriceps. Let your heels reach towards the ground as you do this.
At this point you should be feeling your legs become active and it should be easy to lift the knee cap. Ensure that your knees don’t lock. See to it that in case you over extend that your knees are bent slightly.
Now it’s time to focus on your arms. As you press through the index finger at their bases, you can stretch the outer arms. Ensure that the neck as well as the head remain long and that they are following the line of the spine.
Hold this position for a minute as you inhale and exhale through the rib cage.
2. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana—the one-legged king pigeon pose
If there ever was a cool yoga pose for opening up those stiff hips, it’s got to be the one-legged king pigeon pose. The chest as well as the shoulders are also easily opened up all while stretching the groin muscles, the thighs as well as psoa muscles.
Once you perfect this pose, you can pack your surf board in your surfboard travel bag ready to hit the ocean.
This pose is more advanced and is best suited for people who have experience in yoga for surfers especially the downwards facing dog. However, having mastered it, you will gain more flexibility around your hips which as we shall see later in this post is great for improving your maneuverability when riding those waves.
You can progress into this pose from the downward facing dog. To do this, draw in you right knee towards your chest. Then slowly release it between your hands and move it towards the right wrist.
Take your ankle under your body. Let the other shin rest gently on the floor. If you are feeling a bit uncomfortable, avoid putting pressure on the knee.
Meanwhile the other leg which in our case is the left leg should be fully extended from the hip and pointing backwards. You should be able to feel your leg gently roll inwards.
Take a deep breathe to lengthen the spine. At this position you should feel your shoulders and chest begin to open. Then exhale through the chest and extend your arms ahead of you all while making sure that your forehead is rested on the floor. You may find it more comfortable to rest the forehead on the forearm.
Then take another deep breath as you bring back your arms towards the leg that is bent. Lift up until you maintain a tall position. Then exhale and go back to the downward facing dog.
Lastly repeat the process on the other side. When you finally hit the water, you might a surf watch to keep track of time.
3. Uttana Shishosana-The extended puppy pose
The main benefit of the extended puppy pose is that it stretches the right and left side of your body as well as the shoulders and the spine. Your upper back and shoulders are also stretched helping to remove the tension from these areas.
This pose is one of the best ways to get rid of anxiety and stress. It provides you with the best attitude to approach your surfing which means that you will be able to have even more fun when you are riding the waves. After performing the poses you will feel a sense of calm and relaxation.
When you finally get into the water even with your SUP for surfing, you will be ready to make the most of your time.
The first step will require you to get on all fours. The knees should be right under the hips. By keeping your wrists apart at shoulder distance, push your hands in front of your body.
Exhale as you push back your buttocks in the direction of your heels. Ensure that they stop at a position above the knees.
All the while your elbows should be off the mat and your arms should be active. Bring our forehead down to the mat. If you prefer you can have a cushion at this position.
Then inhale deeply and while you are at it lift your body slightly as you push your hands towards the left. Make sure that your torso is in a center position. At this angle exhale and take back your body in the original pose.
Repeat as you push your hands to the right side of your body. Hold for 30 seconds while you inhale in both positions and breathe through the rib cage to allow it to stretch and lengthen the body.
Now you can put on that surf bikini and head to the beach.
4. Jathara Parivrtti variation—Twist Variations
The benefit of these poses are to open up the shoulders and the chest. They are also an excellent way to massage and help relax the area between the shoulder blades and the spine.
At the end of these poses you will be able to gain greater torso movement.
Start off by lying down on your side. Ensure that your knees as well as your shoulders are stacked. Bring up your knees together towards your torso at a right angle or 45 degrees from the torso. Then take your arms and with the palms pressed together move them to the right side at the shoulder height.
Lift up you left arm while inhaling, make a reaching motion with your fingers and then let it hit the ground on your left. At the same time let your head follow.
Take a deep breath and reach out through your fingertips and allow your left arms to go back into contact with your right arm.
By repeating this exercise 10 times, you will allow your chest to open up.
Then take your right leg and extend it all while ensuring that your left knee is set over your right leg by holding it with your right hand. Take another deep breath and stretch your hand up directly letting go of the mat and letting your torso to also lie down on the mat.
In this pose go ahead and take a few breathes. This will allow the rib cage to expand. Then perform the pose again from the beginning this time with the left side.
When you head out to the beach don’t forget to carry your sunscreen for surfing and watersports.
Here are more reasons to learn yoga for surfers.
Surfing activates your entire body from the main muscles in your arms, legs chest and back and core to your smaller muscle groups which explains why you may find your body aching in places you wouldn’t have expected after taking a good surf.
In other words, surfing is a full body workout. The same is true with yoga for surfers. It allows you to activated both large and small muscle groups. By performing yoga, you are able to develop the strength needed in your entire body to become a well-balanced surfer.
A point to note is that the next time you head out windsurfing, it would help to have a good windsurfing wetsuit.
It’s easy to think that yoga is for people who can turn their body in unimaginable and impossible looking ways. However, the poses help the body to become flexible which can be highly beneficial when surfing. This is especially true for the shoulder and hip area.
For example, shoulder flexibility improves the paddling stroke and more flexibility in the hips boosts the pop up. Being flexible at the back also means that you will be able to make the best maneuvers when riding those waves.
Yoga allows the body’s muscle groups to stretch resulting in greater flexibility in the chest, shoulders, and hips.
Flexibility and strength results in better balance. The great thing is that you can actually improve and hone your balancing skills. When you are in tune with all your muscles and the body is able to make use of them, you are better able to maintain your position and correct yourself when you go off balance.
And what’s more, as you spend more and more time working on your balance, your brain becomes used to this which means that you can get yourself back into balance quicker giving you even more control.
If say you were to take long durations without working on your balance, your coordination between the various muscle groups and the brain gets more out of tune and you will find that you are struggling to regain your balance. This because the brain needs more time to figure out what to do to get you back into in control of your body.
Performing the four poses we mentioned above will help you get more control and balance over your body. Also it would help to get surfboard traction pads.
One thing that you need when surfing is good focus. There is a lot that can happen when you are surfing not to mention that the seas and oceans can be dangerous. If you are not surfing alone and there are plenty of others surfers enjoying the waves you can begin to see why you need to have your wits about you.
Watching what and who is around you, maintaining balance and simply checking out for the next wave, are just some of the things you must do. If you are not focused, then things could take a downwards turn pretty fast.
By being calm and relaxed, you are going to become more focused which allows you to ride the waves better and have proper control. Yoga for surfers allows you to get better focus by engaging different muscle groups at the same time. It also allows you to relax.
The more focused you become, the more you will enjoy surfing and making the most of your time riding the waves. If you are a beginner you should check out the best surfboards for beginners.
5. Improving your breathing
One of the main reasons why people take part in yoga is due to the amazing benefits that include improved breathing. By maintaining proper breathing, you are able to relax which also allows you to become more focused.
This comes with benefits when you are surfing one of which is ensuring that you do not over exert your body and become overly tired. This means more time in the water and more fun riding the waves.
Globo Surf Overview
If you are going to become a great surfer, you will need greater control of your body to be able to ride those waves and maneuver with ease. Yoga is all about twists and turns which provides you with more flexibility, improves your breathing and helps you become an all rounded great surfer.
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- Doing the downward facing dog, yogajournal.com