Yoga for Surfers – Seems like a match made in heaven … right?!?
But Why ?
Surfers are known for their ability to effortlessly glide on the waves, seeking that perfect balance between strength and grace.
Yet, many people may not realise that behind those stellar manoeuvres lies a deep connection of surfing ability to the mind and body – a connection that yoga can nurture. Just as a wave rider seeks harmony with the ocean, yoga offers surfers an opportunity to cultivate inner harmony, resilience, and flexibility on land.
Yoga and surfing share a remarkable symbiosis. Both disciplines require concentration, breath control, and balance.
The physical demands of riding waves are often intense; surfers need strong core muscles, pose stability, and flexibility to adapt to changing conditions. This is where yoga steps in as the the practice yoga an ideal companion for surfers.
An Oceanic Symphony of Benefits
While riding epic waves is undeniably exhilarating, it also significantly strains the body. The repetitive paddling motion can tighten the shoulders and chest muscles while standing on a board engages various muscle groups from head to toe.
Fortunately, surfers can counteract these imbalances by incorporating yoga into their routine.
Not only does yoga help address physical challenges specific to surfing poses, such as pop-ups or duck dives, but it also enhances overall core strength and improves paddling endurance. Regular practice of dynamic sequences like Sun Salutations builds functional strength in all major muscle groups while improving flexibility.
Additionally, beneficial postures like Downward Dog open up tight hamstrings and shoulders – areas commonly affected by long hours spent in water.
Beyond physical benefits, embracing yoga can also have profound mental effects on surfers.
Riding waves demands intense focus – being fully present amidst ever-changing dynamics while maintaining composure under pressure. Yoga’s emphasis on mindfulness cultivates mental clarity, allowing surfers to tune in to the present moment, heighten their awareness, and make split-second decisions on the waves.
This heightened focus carries over into everyday life, enabling surfers to approach challenges with a calm and centred mindset. Incorporating yoga into their routine is a no-brainer for any surfer looking to amplify their performance and overall well-being.
By weaving together these practices’ physical and mental aspects, surfers can unlock an extraordinary synergy that will elevate their ride on water and land.
So grab your mat, paddle out into the world of surf yoga, and dive deep into the limitless potential within you.
Yoga Poses for Surfers
Warm-up poses to prepare the body
Whether paddling out into big waves or maneuvering your board with grace, it’s crucial to warm up your upper body well before hitting the surf. One of the most effective warm-up poses for surfers is the Cat-Cow stretch.
Cat-Cow Stretch (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana) –
- Begin on All Fours: Place your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Ensure a neutral spine.
- Move into Cow Pose: As you inhale, let your belly sag towards the mat, lift your chest and gaze upwards, creating a gentle arch in your back.
- Transition to Cat Pose: On the exhale, round your spine upwards, tucking in your chin and drawing your belly button towards your spine.
- Flow Between Poses: Continue to flow between the cat and cow positions for several breaths, using your inhales to transition into cow and your exhales to transition into cat.
- Ensure smooth transitions between poses, syncing each movement with your breath.
- This stretch mobilises the spine and aids flexibility in the neck and shoulders.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Stretches out tight hamstrings and calves while opening up the shoulders. It also helps to build strength in key areas used during surfing.
- Start on Your Hands and Knees: Begin in a tabletop position with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Spread your fingers wide apart and press your palms firmly into the floor.
- Lift Your Hips Up: Tuck your toes under and exhale as you lift your knees off the floor, pushing your hips up and back. Aim to create an inverted “V” shape with your body.
- Straighten Your Legs: Gently try to straighten your legs, pushing your heels towards the ground. It’s okay if they don’t touch the floor; the intent is to stretch.
- Engage Your Arms: Press firmly into your palms, extending your arms and rotating your biceps towards your ears. This will help engage your shoulders and open your upper back.
- Keep Your Back Straight: Lengthen your spine, pulling your tailbone up and pushing your chest back towards your thighs.
- Relax Your Neck: Let your head hang neutrally, ensuring no strain. Your ears should be in line with your upper arms.
- Hold the Pose: Breathe deeply, holding the position for anywhere from 30 seconds to a couple of minutes, depending on your comfort level.
- To Release: Exhale and bend your knees, returning to the tabletop position.
- It’s more important to keep a straight back than to have your heels touch the ground.
- Engage your core muscles to support your spine.
- If you have wrist discomfort, use yoga props or make fists to support your weight.
Balance poses to improve stability on the board
Tree Pose (Vrksasana) – How To:
- Stand Tall: Begin with both feet firmly planted on the ground, standing upright with a neutral spine.
- Lift One Foot: Slowly lift one foot, placing it against the inside of the opposite thigh or calf. Remember to avoid placing it directly on the knee.
- Find Your Balance: Bring your hands to prayer position at your heart’s centre and focus on a fixed point in front of you to help maintain balance.
- Hold and Breathe: Engage your core and stand firm for several breaths, grounding down like the roots of a tree.
- Switch Sides: Gently lower your foot and repeat on the opposite side.
- To help with balance, find a fixed point (drishti) to focus on.
- Imagine roots growing from your standing foot into the earth, providing stability.
Warrior III Pose (Virabhadrasana III)
– How To:
- Begin Standing: Start in an upright position with feet hip-width apart.
- Shift Your Weight: Gradually shift your weight onto one foot, ensuring it’s firmly rooted to the ground.
- Hinge and Extend: As you hinge forward at the hips, lift and extend the opposite leg straight behind you.
- Reach Forward: Extend your arms out in front of you, aiming to create a straight line from your fingertips all the way to your raised heel.
- Hold the Pose: Engage your core and maintain this balance for several breaths before gently returning to the starting position and switching legs.
- Keep the hips squared to the ground to maintain balance.
- Engage the core and leg muscles for stability. Think of pulling your belly button towards the spine.
Hip-opening poses for increased flexibility and agility
Surfing demands agility and flexibility, particularly in the hip area, where rotation plays a significant role in executing turns and maneuvers on the board.
The pigeon pose is an excellent choice for surfers seeking a gentle stretch to release hip tension after long sessions on the waves. Ever wonder how to get more waves in perfect conditions??? Do you know what makes the best conditions for specific surf spots ? Have a look at me article on surfing and swwell direction here.
Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
– How To:
- Begin in All Fours: Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
- Slide One Knee Forward: Bring one knee towards the corresponding wrist while angling the foot towards the opposite wrist.
- Extend the Other Leg: Stretch the opposite leg straight back behind you, pointing the toes and ensuring the leg remains in line with the hip.
- Find Your Depth: Gently lower down onto your forearms or extend your arms forward, resting your forehead on the ground or on a prop for added support.
- Hold and Breathe: Deeply breathe into the stretch, holding for a few minutes before switching sides.
- Listen to your body and avoid overstretching; use props like folded blankets under the hip for added support if needed.
Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana)
– How To:
- Sit Down: Begin by sitting on your mat with a straight spine.
- Join Your Feet: Bend your knees, bringing the soles of your feet together. Allow your knees to fall outward like the pages of an open book.
- Hold and Lengthen: Grasp your ankles or feet, lengthen your spine, and gently press your elbows against your inner thighs.
- Deepen the Stretch: Inhale to find length, and on the exhale, press your knees closer to the ground.
- Hold and Breathe: Stay in this pose, taking several deep breaths and focusing on the sensation in the hips and thighs.
- Avoid forcing your knees down. Instead, use your breath to deepen the stretch gently.
- If you feel strain in the hips, place folded blankets or cushions under each knee for support.
Surfers can significantly improve hip flexibility and reduce tension by incorporating poses like Pigeon and Butterfly, leading to more fluid manoeuvres on the waves. Dive into this surfing yoga journey and experience the symbiotic relationship between surfing and yoga, enhancing your wave-riding adventures.
I have a fantastic introduction article to CO2 tolerance and how and why surfers should be adding this breathing training into their regime.
Pranayama (Breathing Techniques) for Surfers
Importance of Breath Control in Surfing
Generally speaking surfing requires physical strength, balance, mental focus, and clarity. One often overlooked aspect of surfing is the role of breath control.
Proper breathing techniques can assist surfers in managing anxiety, conserving energy, and enhancing their overall performance on the waves. By consciously controlling their breath, surfers can better regulate their heart rate, increase lung capacity, and find a sense of calm amidst the exhilarating chaos of the ocean.
Kapalabhati (Skull Shining Breath) Technique to Energize and Clear the Mind
Kapalabhati is a dynamic breathing technique that involves forceful exhalations through the nose while keeping inhalations passive. This technique cleanses the respiratory and nervous system well, energises the body, and clears the mind.
For surfers, practising Kapalabhati before hitting the waves can help stimulate blood circulation, release tension, and increase mental alertness. By using blood flow, oxygenating muscles and creating a surge of energy within your body, Kapalabhati prepares surfers for an invigorating session in the water.
Anulom Vilom (Alternate Nostril Breathing) Technique for Balance and Focus
Anulom Vilom is a balancing breathing technique that involves slow breaths alternating nostril inhalation and exhalation to balance energy channels in the body. This practice helps regulate emotions, enhances focus, calms racing thoughts, and promotes overall well-being.
For surfers seeking improved balance on their boards and increased mental clarity amidst shifting tides, incorporating Anulom Vilom into their yoga routine can be highly beneficial. By harmonising both hemispheres of the body balanced brain through this mindful breathing exercise, surfers can achieve a state of equilibrium that translates into better wave performance.
Yoga for Surfers: Catch Waves with Balance and Grace
Pre-Surf Warm-Up: Ignite and Activate
- Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar):Purpose: A dynamic flow to ignite the body’s internal heat, stretch major muscle groups, and boost circulation.How To: Start in a standing position, flow through a sequence of postures including forward fold, plank, and cobra/upward-facing dog, ending back in a standing pose.Benefits: Enhances flexibility, warms up joints, and prepares the body for more intense postures.
- Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II):Purpose: Strengthens legs, opens the hips, and enhances focus.How To: From a standing position, step one foot back, bend the front knee and extend your arms out in line with the shoulders.Benefits: Boosts stamina, stability, and balance – crucial for riding waves.
- Triangle Pose (Trikonasana):Purpose: Stretches the side body, opens the chest, and strengthens legs.How To: From Warrior II, straighten the front leg and hinge forward, placing one hand on the ankle and extending the other towards the sky.Benefits: Increases leg strength, improves balance and stimulates organs for better digestion.
- Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana):Purpose: Opens the hips and side body while engaging the core.How To: From Warrior II, place the forearm on the thigh or hand on the ground, extending the other arm overhead.Benefits: Enhances flexibility in the hips and strengthens the oblique muscles.
Post-Surf Cool Down: Restore and Reflect
- Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana):Purpose: Calms the mind and stretches the posterior chain of the body.How To: Sit with legs extended, hinge at the hips, and reach forward towards the feet.Benefits: Relieves hamstrings and lower back tension, and promotes introspection.
- Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana):Purpose: Releases tension in the spine and relaxes the body.How To: Lie on your back, hug one knee into the chest, and guide it across the body while extending the other arm out.Benefits: Aligns the spine, stimulates digestion, and fosters relaxation.
Additional Tips for Surfers:
Consistency is Key: The more regularly you practice these sequences, the better your body will respond to the demands of surfing.
Breathing: Focusing on deep, rhythmic breathing during these poses can also improve lung capacity, which benefits those long paddle-outs.
Listen to Your Body: Always modify poses based on your body’s needs. Using props, like yoga blocks or straps, can help tailor each pose to your level.
By integrating these sequences into your surf routine, you’ll enhance your physical prowess on the board and cultivate a deeper connection with the ocean’s rhythms.
If you’re looking to add more mobility drills specific to surfing, I have an article here.
Mindfulness Practices for Surfers through Yoga
Meditation Techniques to Cultivate Mental Clarity
Surfing is not just about physical prowess; it requires mental clarity and presence of mind amidst ever-changing wave conditions.
Incorporating meditation into your surf yoga practice can be highly beneficial in developing mindfulness and enhancing focus.
Simple techniques such as focusing on the breath, visualisations of riding perfect waves, or repeating positive affirmations can help surfers quiet their minds and prepare for the surfing experience ahead.
By regularly practising meditation, surfers can develop a deeper connection with their bodies, nature, and the ocean—ultimately leading to a more harmonious relationship with the waves.
If you are looking for some cool gift ideas for other surfers have a look at this article.
Incorporating yoga into a surfer’s routine offers numerous benefits beyond the physical. By integrating pranayama techniques such as Kapalabhati and Anulom Vilom, surfers can enhance their breath control, increase energy levels, improve balance, and cultivate mental focus.
Additionally, customising yoga sequences designed explicitly for pre- and post-surf sessions helps warm up key muscle groups before hitting the water while facilitating recovery and relaxation afterwards.
By embracing mindfulness practices like meditation alongside these physical aspects of surf yoga, surfers can tap into a deeper connection with themselves and the ocean—enabling them to ride waves with heightened awareness and an increased sense of joy.
So grab your mat, dive into this transformative yoga practice for surfers, and embark on a journey of self-discovery both on land best yoga, and in the water!
I think yoga is such a great way for mums to get back into the water too. I know it helped me so much to prepare my body for getting back into surfing. Finding it hard to get iinto the water again as a mum?? I have a an article with some tips here.
If your interested in finding out who the famous surfing trailblazers are – Have a look at this interesting take on surfing history.
Here are some of my other favourites: perfect pose stretches for surfers.
- Downward Facing Dog
- Plank Pose
- Upward Facing Dog
- Seated Forward Bend
- Locust Pose
- Child’s Pose
- Warrior II Pose
- Cobra Pose
- Half Moon Pose
- Boat Pose
- Mountain Pose
- Dolphin Pose
- Eagle Pose
Frequently Asked Questions: Yoga and Surfing
1. What is the best yoga for surfers?
- Answer: The best yoga for surfers incorporates poses that enhance flexibility, strength, balance, and focus. Sequences that include Sun Salutations, Warrior poses, Triangle Pose, and hip openers like Pigeon Pose are particularly beneficial. Additionally, practices that emphasise breath control can also be advantageous for improving lung capacity and stamina during surfing.
2. Should surfers do yoga?
- Answer: Absolutely! Yoga offers numerous benefits for surfers, including improved balance, flexibility, and core strength. It also aids in injury prevention by enhancing joint mobility and muscle elasticity. Furthermore, yoga’s emphasis on mindfulness and deep breathing can help surfers maintain calmness and focus on the waves.
3. Is it better to do yoga before or after surfing?
- Answer: Both have their advantages. Doing yoga before surfing can serve as a warm-up, activating key muscle groups and preparing the mind and body for the demands of surfing. A post-surf yoga session can aid in cooling down, stretching out tight muscles, and promoting relaxation and recovery.
4. What is the power of yoga and surfing?
- Answer: Both yoga and surfing cultivate a deep connection between the mind, body, and environment. Together, they promote a sense of balance, strength, and harmony. While surfing harnesses the energy of the ocean, yoga helps channel inner energy, creating a synergistic effect that can deeply enhance the overall experience.