Yoga is a great compliment to any kind of physical activity. So many injuries result from over-stretching, from chronic overuse, and repetitive motion, all of which are common in surfers. Yoga can help to rectify these problems, as you practice postures that move your body in ways that it wouldn't normally, strengthening underused areas, stretching over-worked muscles, and increasing your range of motion.
First, lets take a look at why yoga is so important for surfers, and how it can help us surf better:
• Increases flexibility and range of motion
• Builds core strength
• Reduces risk of injury
• Speeds up recovery time
• Relieves aches and pains
• Cultivates balance, body awareness and coordination
• Improves breathing, increasing lung capacity
• Energises the body and mind
The benefits of yoga for surfers go far beyond the physical aspects. It teaches you to stay calm and focused in challenging situations, and we all know that surfing offers plenty of those. Furthermore, yoga teaches you to be patient, a necessity, as surfing takes time and dedication to master.
So, we’ve covered the benefits of yoga, and how it can help you up your surf game, now let’s take a look at a few of my favourite poses, and see how adding them to your fitness regime WILL benefit your body, and your surfing…
1. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
A great all-rounder, beneficial to body and mind! Lengthens the spine, hamstrings and calves while stretching the shoulders, hands and feet. Also strengthens wrists, arms, upper body and legs. All while energising the body, calming the brain and nervous system.
If you’re comfortable in Down Dog you can try a more challenging variation – Dolphin Pose (Ardha Pincha Mayurasana) – that will open your shoulders and strengthen your core even more.
2. Plank Pose (Phalakasana)
This pose specifically targets the abdominal muscles, while toning the arms and strengthening the spine. It also helps to build endurance and stability.
To make this more challenging, go into Side Plank (Vasisthasana), a powerful arm and wrist strengthener that tones the sides of the body (lats), which is much needed for initiating turns. Gazing up at the hand in the air in Side Plank is also great balance practice!
3. Four-Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)
From plank, lower your body half way down, into Four-Limbed Staff Pose, an important posture in the traditional Sun Salutation sequences. It is a great upper body workout that strengthens the lower back, triceps, and core muscles. Add this to your practice and your pop-ups WILL become stronger and faster.
4. Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
This pose is incredible for building arm strength, lengthening the spine and increasing flexibility in the back, while opening up the chest and shoulders, stretching the neck and thighs. Upward Dog mimics the same movement as when you start to get up on the surfboard. Get practicing this pose and see your pop-ups improve in no time!
5. Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)
Lizard is an incredible hip opener, it works the hip flexors and hamstrings, as well as opening the groin and chest, all while lengthening the spine. It’s a great place to start to prepare your body for deeper hip openers such as Pigeon Pose.
6. King Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
One of the deepest, most effective hip openers, Pigeon Pose stretches the thighs, glutes, groin and psoas muscles, while opening the chest and shoulders. Try adding this pose into your regular practice and you’ll soon notice the increased hip mobility.
Tip: The best way to get into Pigeon Pose is from Downward Facing Dog.
7. Seated Spinal Twist Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
This pose is amazing for giving your spine some love. It also stretches your outer hips, glutes, oblique muscles, ribcage, shoulders, and neck, releasing any stiffness in the upper body, preparing you for your next surf session.
8. Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana II)
Looks strikingly similar to your stance on the board, right?
This pose benefits the entire body. It strengthens and stretches the feet, legs, ankles, hips, and groin, stimulating the abs and opening up the chest and shoulders. It also improves balance and focus, while building endurance.
9. Eagle Pose (Garuadasana)
Use this pose to strengthen the delts and traps, which are highly engaged when you’re paddling. At the same time you’re strengthening and stretching the hip flexors, back, legs, and feet, engaging the core. Eagle is also one of the best poses for cultivating the unwavering balance and focus needed for surfing!
10. Locust Pose (Shalabhasana)
This gentle backbend is a great stretch for the shoulders and chest. It also strengthens and tones the entire back of your body, using the exact same muscles that are being used when paddling. Amazing for keeping up your strength on days you can’t get in the water.
11. Tree Pose (Vrkkasana)
Practicing Tree Pose will help you work on your balance and focus, while strengthening the feet, ankles, legs and core. Just what you need for staying upright on your board!
12. Crow Pose (Bakasana)
This pose takes an incredible amount of concentration, balance, core and upper body strength, all of which are vital for developing a strong surf technique. Not a pose to rush into though, and expect a degree of face-planting in the process - if your process was anything like mine!
It also looks pretty cool too!
As a general rule, if a pose looks similar to surfing, then it’s good for you!
Want to up your surfing game? Book your Yoga for Surfers class here.
Better still, why not join us on a retreat, and fully immerse yourself in a weekend of yoga and surf!
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Find out why you should definitely go on a yoga and surf retreat right now!