Yoga for Surfers

A Surfer’s Guide to Yoga

Yoga and surfing go hand in hand. Many professional surfers have incorporated a regular Yoga practise in their surf training routines. Kelly Slater, Greg Ling and Gerry Lopez are just a few famous names to mention here.

 

In Part I of this blog, we are looking at the different ways in which Yoga can help your surfing: through building strength, by increasing your flexibility, improving your balance and enhancing your focus. Part II shows you Yoga poses and practises you can do at home that will help you improve your surfing ability. A BIG THANK YOU to Sara, who has kindly taken pictures of her Yoga practise for us.

 

We hope you enjoy our Surfer’s Guide to Yoga. Namaste 🕉️🙏

Your Star Surf Camps Team

PART I
The Theory

Yoga strengthens Muscles used in Surfing


Yoga is a full-body workout that helps you strengthen some of the main muscle groups you also use when surfing. For paddling, for example, you need your shoulder girdle, back, abdomen and your legs. Moreover, Yoga strengthens your intermuscular coordination. By “flowing” through different postures, your entire balance system is trained, thus helping you with smoother turns on your surfboard for example.

 

Yoga increases Surf Flexibility


Flexibility is one of the key elements of good physical health. It increases mobility as well as the range of motion in muscles and joints. Yoga is known to enhance a practitioner’s flexibility by connecting poses with breath which, in turn, allows you to sink deeper into your poses. Being flexible in your legs and lower back in particular are essential for surfers. Flexibility in surfing improves both your pop-up skills and your ability to turn. 

 

Yoga improves Surf Balance


Balance is essential when practicing both surfing and Yoga. The stronger your core, the more balanced you’ll be. Poses such as Tadasana, or Mountain Pose, Virabhadrasana III, Warrior III, and Ardha Chandrasana, the Half Moon Pose, are great to improve your balance. Practicing these yoga poses regularly will allow your performance in the water – that’s more efficient paddling, faster take-offs, quicker maneuver – to improve as well.

 

Yoga helps you Focus


Concentration and clarity of mind are important to both sports. Your Yoga practice connects the mind with the body through movement and breath. Pranayama is a yogic breathing technique that is particularly helpful for surfers as it can help control your energy levels. Knowing not to panic and breathing with control after a heavy wipeout, for example, can be lifesaving. A focussed mindset allows surfers to be more aware of their surroundings, thus helping them to improve their surfing.

PART II
The Practice

Practice Yoga regularly and we promise you, you will notice the huge improvement in the water when surfing. Below are a few Yoga sequences and their respective benefits for surfers. We recommend doing them either before or after a surf.

 

Balasana: Child’s Pose


The sequence

— Sit on your knees, release the tops of your feet to the floor and bring your knees wider than your hips, big toes touching.
— Walk your hands forward and extend your spine.
— Take several slow breaths into your belly and chest.

The benefits

— Gently stretches the lower back, hips, thighs, knees, and ankles.
— Relaxes the spine, shoulders, and neck.
— Increases blood circulation to your head, which may relieve headaches.
— Calms the mind and central nervous system.

 

Uttana Shishosana: Extended Puppy Pose


The sequence

— Sit on your knees, walk your arms forward keeping them shoulders distance apart with palms facing down.
— From here allow your upper thoracic spine to towards the ground.
— You can rest your forehead on the floor. 

The benefits

— Stretches the upper back, spine, and shoulders.
— Opens the chest. 
— Helps release tension in the shoulders and neck.

 

Tadasana: Mountain Pose 


The sequence 

— Stand straight and keep some distance between feet.
— Press feet flat on the floor.
— Engage your shinbones, bring your knee cup up engage your tights.
— Tuck in your tail bone.
— Hands should be hanging alongside your body next to your hips, active arms, hands and fingers.
— Roll your shoulders up back and down, creating more space between your ears and shoulders, and an open chest.
— Lift your chin, and Drishti which is your visual focal point is looking forward or at your nose.
— Make sure your center of gravity in the middle of your body so you don´t lean forward or back or to the side.

The benefits

— Improves body posture and balance.
— Tone your buttocks and abdomen.
— Strengthens your ankles, knees, thighs, arms, and legs.

 

Uttanasana: Standing Forward Fold


The sequence

— Start in Tadasana/Mountain pose.
— Inhale as you raise your arms.
— As you exhale, engage your thighs, pull the belly in and bend forward, hinging from the hips. 
— Bend your knees if you need it.
— Place your hands/fingertips on the floor, in front or next to your feet.
— Let your head hang, keeping the neck relaxed.
— Lengthen your spine as you inhale. Soften deeper into the pose as you exhale.

The benefits

— Stretches the back of the legs, the hips and spine.
— Strengthens the legs, thighs and knees.
— Balances the nervous system, calms the mind.
— Relieves tension in the lower back when practiced with bent knees.

 

Virabhadrasana 2: Warrier 2


The sequence

— Start in mountain pose. Step your feet are 4–5 feet apart depending on the body. Place your right foot at a 90-degrees angle so that your toes are aligned with the top of your mat. Pivot your left foot inward at a 45-degree angle so that it’s positioned behind you.
— Extend both arms to the sides so that they are parallel to the ground, palms facing down. 
— Bend your right knee and align it over your right ankle in 90 degrees, making sure your knee doesn´t move forward past your ankle. Activate your core muscles as you sink your hips, making the center of your body down not forward.
— Turn your head forward to watch your right middle finger. 
— Hold for 3-5 breaths, come back to the start and repeat the same process on the other side.

The benefits

— Stretches and strengthens the legs, feet and ankles.
— Stretches the hips, groin, shoulders and chest.
— Boosts concentration and stamina.
— Helps to open the lungs.

 

Utthita Parsvakonasana: Extended Side Angle Pose


The sequence

— From warrior 2, lean forwards, keep a distance of 4-5 feet between the legs, stretch your arms to the sides keeping— them parallel to the ground
— Turn the whole body toward the left, bend your left leg, keeping the right leg straight.
— Place your left hand on the ground or your forearm on top of your right knee, palm facing down and stretch the right arm up.
— Fix your gaze onto the right hand or right forearm.
— Hold for 3-5 breaths, come back to the original position and change to the other side.

The benefits

— Strengthens and stretches the legs, knees, and ankles.
— Stretches the groins, spine, waist, chest and lungs, and shoulders.
— Stimulates abdominal organs.
— Increases stamina.

 

Phalakasana: Plank Pose


The sequence

— Come to a push-up position, hands and shoulders should be in line.
— Spread the fingers wide apart with the middle finger pointing forward, press into the palms with the arms are straight. Tuck the tailbone under so the legs, hips and torso are one straight line. Press the crown of the head forward and with the toes tucked, press the heels back.
— Breathe and hold for 1-4 breaths.
— To realise, bend the knees to the floor into child pose.

The benefits

— Plank pose builds upper and core body strength
— Lengthens the spine and strengthens the low back muscles.

 

Bhujangasana: Cobra Pose


The sequence

— Lie on the floor on your belly. Extend your legs behind you with the tops of your feet on the floor. Place your hand’s palm down on the floor a couple a bit away from your shoulders. Squeeze your elbows towards your body rather than letting them splay out to the sides.
— Press firmly down through the tops of your feet and your thighs. Draw your tailbone toward the ground.
— On an inhale, reach your chest forward and up. Draw your shoulders away from your ears.
— Stay here or press into your palms and begin to straighten your elbows. Keep your legs engaged as you lift your chest forward and up.
— Stay in the pose for up to 30 seconds.

The benefits

— Strengthens the arms and muscles of the back.
— Increases flexibility in the spine.
— Stretches chest, shoulders, lungs, and abdomen.
— Stretches and massages internal organs.

 

Adho Mukha Svanasana: Downward-Facing Dog


The sequence 

— Come onto your fours, hands are shoulder distance apart and straighten the spine.
— As you breathe out, lift the hips up, straightening the knees and elbows.
— Make sure your fingers are open and pressing down the floor. Your shoulders are away of your ears, your tail bone is towards the sky, your toes point straight ahead and your heels are pressing down.
— Hold the downward dog pose and take long deep breaths. Look towards the navel.
— Exhale, bend your knees and release the pose.

The benefits

— Leaves you energized and rejuvenates the body.
— Lengthens the spine, strengthens the muscles of the chest increasing lung capacity.
— Brings strength throughout the body especially the arms, shoulders, legs, feet.

 

Garudasana: Eagle Pose


The sequence

— Start in mountain pose (tadasana), standing tall with your feet together or hip-width apart, and your hands at your sides.
— Bend your knees to lower your hips down and back as if sinking down.
— Shift your weight onto your right foot, and lift your left foot, crossing your left knee over your right knee. If possible, hook the top of your flexed left foot around the inside of your right ankle.
— Squeeze your legs together to maintain balance.
Once your legs are established, cross your arms in front of you — left arm under the right — bend both elbows, and try to press your palms together.
— Lift your elbows to shoulder height, keeping them bent at 90 degrees.
— Hold the pose for five breaths, and reverse the sequence to return to mountain pose. Repeat with the opposite crossing of legs and arms.

The benefits

— Good for arthritis and back pain.
— Strengthens the muscles of the feet and toes.
— Increase focus and concentration.

 

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana: One-legged King Pigeon Pose


The sequence 

— Begin with kneeling on the floor. Stretch out your right leg behind you. Bend your left knee such that your left foot comes close to your right pelvic bone with your toes pointed out. Lean slightly forward to puff out your chest.
— Take the support of the ground by placing your hands on it for balance.
— Look in front and maintain a steady gaze.
— Hold the pose for 30 secs and repeat. This is the pose for beginners If you are an advanced practitioner you can lay your torso down for a deeper stretch.

The benefits

— Stimulate of internal organs and deep stretching of glutes, groins, psoas, abdomen, shoulders, chest and neck.
— It works as a shoulder and chest opener, as an opening hip joint and lengthening the hip flexor.
— Helps alleviate sciatica pain and treats urinary disorders.
— Improves posture and alignment of the body and enhances overall suppleness. 
— Alleviate lower back pain and any kind of stiffness in the back.

 

Supta Matsyendrasana: Supine Spinal Twist Pose


The sequence

— Lie down on your back, bring your arms out to the sides with the palms facing down in a T position. Bend the right knee and place the right foot on the left knee.
— Exhale drop the right knee over to the left side of your body, twisting the spine and low back. Look at the right side.
— Keep the shoulders flat to the floor, close the eyes, and relax into the posture. Let gravity pull the knee down, so you do not have to use any effort in this posture.
— Breathe and hold for 6-10 breaths.
— To release: inhale and roll the hips back to the floor, and exhale the leg back down to the floor.
— Repeat on the other side.

The benefits

— Ensures your spine gets enough movement and become more flexible.
— Offers a complete detox to your internal organs.
— Gives your shoulders, chest, middle spine, hips, lower back, and upper back a good stretch.
— If you have stiffness or pain in your spine, hips, or lower back, this asana helps relieve it.

 

Gomukhasana: Cow Face Pose


The sequence:

— Come to a sitting position with extended legs.
— Bend your right leg and cross over your left leg, keeping it close to the hip. Now bend your left knee so both the legs are crossed, knee over the other.
— Keep the back straight.
— Bring your right arm up, your left arm behind your back and try to hold both hands or fingertips.
— After some time, come back and change the position to perform on the other side.

The benefits

— Cures back pain.
— Improve the function of the heart.
— Removes restlessness of the mind.
— Very helpful for those suffering from piles and hydrocele.

More like this...

These workouts will keep you busy practising until your next yoga holidays or surf camp stay. If you enjoyed reading this article,  you might also like to check out our Online Surf School

👉🏽 A Surf Beginners Guide


or

👉🏽 Learn to Surf Basics -Videos.


All of our “Learn to Surf Basics”-Episodes are now online. Learn to surf from the comfort of your own home with our Online Surf School video series. Enjoy!

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