5 yoga poses that are great for surfing
Laura Ramage - 3rd January 2017
It’s undeniable that taking up yoga can really benefit your surfing fitness. Surfing is a pretty demanding sport, therefore it’s important that you are physically and mentally prepared for it. Many well-known surfers such as Kelly Slater and Gerry Lopez endorse yoga as being one of the best types of training for the sport, and there are many reasons why. For example:
Strength - Yoga can really help you to build up the strength and endurance that is required during surfing. Surfers need strong abdominal, leg and back muscles for paddling, pushing up onto the board as well as surfing the wave and maneuvers.
Flexibility - It’s also important that surfers have the flexibility to not only prevent injury, but to also avoid stiffness after surfing. Practicing yoga frequently can support this.
Focus – Being focused when in the water will not only help surfers with their wave selection but also to cope with wipeouts or long hold-downs by the waves. Yoga teaches us to ignore distractions and clear the mind as well as deep breathing. This can help surfers to stay calm and relax the body when they are stressed.
Balance – Yoga can help surfers to build confidence and balance, which is required when surfing waves.
We caught up with Jen Austin from Shine Yoga to discuss the benefits of yoga for surfers. We agreed that practicing a combination of the following5 yoga poses would be brilliantly beneficial.
Warning - do not try these poses if you are suffering from injury. If you are totally new to yoga, it is advised that you start with basic practice before advancing to these poses.
Downward dog (AdhoMukhaSvansana)
This is one of the core yoga poses. It’s a great pose to stretch out the whole of your body, from the calf muscles in your legs all the way to the triceps in your arms. It's actually a restorative pose and is good at the beginning of your yoga practice, first thing in the morning or before you jump in the water.
- Start on your hands and knees. Make sure your fingers are spread wide apart and the weight is even, using the whole surface area of your hand.
- Tuck in your toes and lift your knees off the floor. Make sure your feet are hip distance apart.
- Bend your knees and send the sit-bones up and back. Aim to get your heels towards the floor.
- Make sure your hands are shoulder distance apart. Activate your arms by pressing your hands into the ground. Rotate your forearms inward towards each other and externally rotate the upper arms.
- Engage your core by drawing in your bellybutton towards the spine.
- Let your head hang down and look towards your thighs or belly button.
Revolved Crescent Lunge (ParivrttaAnjaneyasana)
When surfing a wave, your legs and core need to be engaged. This pose is great for building core strength. Not only does it tone the lower body stretching the thigh muscle and calves, it also stretches the shoulders, stomach and back.
- Stand tall on your mat with your feet close to each other and your hands on your hips.
- Lunge forward with your right foot making sure your knee is directly above the ankle.
- Your back leg stays straight and engaged, the weight is distributed backwards onto the toes with the heels pushing down towards the ground.
- Your spine is long and your pelvis is tucked under.
- Reach your arms up into the air making sure your shoulders stay down and gaze aheaf.
- Slowly twist your torso towards the right and then take your left arm to reach towards the front of your mat and the right towards the back at shoulder height.
- The fingers are extended and spread wide and the gaze is towards the back of the mat.
- Hook the left elbow outside of the right knee and bring the palms together in Prayer. Take the Gaze up towards the sky.
- Swap sides.
Seated Eagle pose (Garudasana)
Seated Eagle is another great yoga pose thatcan compliment surfing. The pose requires deep concentration and it's also a great shoulder opener, which is needed for all that paddling.
- Stand on your mat with your feet next to each other. Make sure your body is in-line, your shoulders are down and the crown of your head is lifting up.
- Bend your knees slightly and slowly lift your right knee (balancing on the left leg) and then cross it over the left thigh. Point your right foot down and then hook it around the left calf.
- Next spread your arms wide with your palm facing down (like an eagle spreading wings). Bring your arms slowly back towards one another and when they have got to the centre bend your elbows, cross the left arm over the right, then wrap the right arm around the left and place the hands together in prayer.
- Take the pose deeper by lowering the balancing leg further and move the arms away from your face, making sure the elbows are in line with your chin.
- Unravel and then do the same on the other side.
Perfecting crow pose is great for surfing because it strengthens and tones the upper arms, forearms, wrists, abdominal muscles as well as the upper back and shoulders. This pose is also great for balance and full-body coordination.
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip width apart and slowly lower to the floor into a squat position.
- Drop your torso slightly forward and press your upper arms to the inside of your knees. Spread your fingers and place your palms on the mat shoulder distance apart.
- Bend your elbows and create a shelf with your arms like chaturanga.
- Start to lean forward and round your back.
- Place your right knee on your bent upper arm, then slowly do the same with the left. Ensure your heels are drawing towards your buttocks.
- Once you feel balanced look forward, make sure your weight is evenly spread in both hands. Tilt your body and round your back some more. Hold in your core and remember to breathe slowlyin and out.
Try and hold this pose for 5 breaths and build up to 10. If you fall keep trying, you will eventually get it.
Tripod Headstand (SalambaSirsasana)
This pose is great for concentration, balancing and building core strength. There are a couple of variations to this pose, however you should only practice them if you are an experienced Yogi. If you have never practiced this pose before then make sure you try it with an experienced yoga teacher as it can put a lot of pressure on your neck if practiced incorrectly.
- Start by kneeling down on your mat. Take a forward bend and place your forehead down.
- Next spread your fingers and place them down by your head, shoulder distance apart. You want to create a right angle with your arms, similar to chataranga.
- Start to roll onto the crown of your head as you lift your bum away from your heels. Slowly lift your heels off the ground as if you are doing downward dog with your head on the floor.
- Slowly walk your feet forward towards your head until your shoulder and back feel aligned with your head. Make sure there is no discomfort in your head or neck. If you start to feel any pressure on your neck come straight down.
- Place your right shin onto your upper right arm and then the same with the left.
- When you are ready hold in your core and slowly lift your knees away from your arms up towards the sky. Again you can do one leg and then the other.
- Look at a spot to focus on, keep your core engaged, keep your legs together and your back in a straight line.
- To come back down, slowly lower your shins onto your upper arms keeping your core engaged. Then when you are ready place your feet onto the floor and slowly lift your head up.