You come in from a session frothing. Nothing beats the pure satisfaction you get after a few hours of getting the waves of your life. The adrenaline in your veins pumping that feeling of being so alive you could jump out of your skin and back onto your board for another session.
The reality of that is when the adrenaline wears off – your dog tired and sore.
The aches and pains of strenuous paddling, the reminder in your arms whenever you need to lift something that you haven’t been keeping paddle fit – all are great reasons to be stretching. Something we all get lazy with. When the surf’s pumping there isn’t much time for anything else but being in the water. But if you want to be like good ol’ john “doc” ball (may he rest in peace) and still shredding into your 90’s, you need a contingency plan.
There isn’t a much of a better plan than yoga. Knowing the reality of that we aren’t always motivated to make time for stretching, I’ve put together 5 quick yoga poses you can bust out on the sand while you’re checking the waves.
Why do Yoga as a Surfer?
Yoga can improve your surfing! Just ask Kelly Slater, Fergal Smith, Alex Martins, Sally Fitzgibbons, Laura Enever..Well any celeb surfer really! They’ll back me up I swear by it.
Here’s a list of reasons why:
Increase of flexibility for lowered chance of injury
Balance training, more control in your turns or nose-rides
Strengthening in problem areas, less pain and chance of injury
Improves lung capacity for wipeouts
Boosts confidence in your strength, boosting your overall surf!
The 5 Poses
While putting together these poses, I’ve kept a few things in mind. Practicality.
I’ve been thoughtful towards the fact you probably won’t have a mat with you, so no poses that may result in you eating sand. Also, I don’t know about you, but busting out certain moves like a “happy baby” in public isn’t always going to float. It’s not the most flattering pose and it’s really unsafe if you are doing a dawn run and haven’t “been” yet.
Target muscles: We know the pain. We feel the pain. So these are all targeted at the particular sore spots you get as a surfer. Hips, back, shoulders and neck.
Beginner friendly: There’s a chance some of you have never touched your toes. I haven’t included poses like backbends; I don’t want you hospitalized before you’ve even got your feet wet.
You can spend about a minute on each one of these.
1. Horse Stance Back Stretch
Think of doing the “haka”. Feet a comfortable distance apart, turned out slightly, hands on the knees, take it turns to drop your shoulders towards the ground. Remembering to breath in as you swap sides and out as your drop the shoulder.
Stretches shoulders – optimum paddling
Torso twist increases spine flexibility
Leg and core warm up
2. Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog
Most of us have done it or seen it being done. Downward facing dog. Starting on all fours, knees under the hips and wrists under the shoulders. Inhale, lift your knees off the floor. Exhale, try lengthen your tailbone towards the sky and continue to inhale,exhale. It’s more important you try keep a straight back than it is that your feet will touch the floor. I’ve been doing yoga for a few years now and my feet still don’t always touch the floor!
Standing feet a bit more than hips width apart, inhale, exhale then bend at the hips to bring your hands to the floor between your feet (or use your board, some driftwood to rest on if you can’t reach). Take it in turns to leave one hand on the ground while the other shoots up to the sky. Try imagine a line running between your hands to help keep the shape.
Opens up hips, back and shoulders – all the problem areas
Relieves neck and shoulder tension
4. Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose) with arm circles
If you’re going to do any yoga pose for surfing, do this one pose. Come into a lunge with your right foot forward. Turn your left (back) foot to point away from your body. Rest your right forearm on your right thigh and on an exhale, bring your left arm in line with your head so your elbow and ear are (if they can) touching. Turn your face slightly upwards and breath. Then switch legs/arms.
Stretches all the smaller muscles between your ribs, which will increase lung capacity over time
Opens up shoulders for efficient paddling
Warm up for legs
5. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana/ One Legged King Pigeon Pose
Come back into your downward facing dog. Raise your right foot to the sky and then bring your knee to your nose, place your leg down so the ankle is behind your left arm and the knee between your hands. You may need to adjust your foot/knee depending on your hip flexibility. You’ll naturally come to fall onto your right hip, but try keep conscious of leveling your hips. From here you can choose to arch your back slightly, hold the pose, wiggle your but, grab your other foot…The options are endless depending on what level of yogi you are. One you’ve done one side, switch!
Extreme hip opener, more agility for your turns
Strengthens core and glute muscles for decreased risk of injury
Feels damn good
So there you have it. My favourite 5 poses to improve your surfing. They won’t be what wins you a world title but they are going to help you get there quicker!
If you are heading off on a surf trip and this article has inspired you to keep up some yoga, check out these amazing surf yoga retreats. There’s something for everyone in the list. Additionally find below a selection of our favourits:
Villa Mandala is the perfect escape for yogis looking to connect with their inner calm. The oceanfront property overlooks crystal clear blue waters and will help you find tranquility in both mind and body while learning new poses from experienced and fully certified in-house instructors.
90% of the time I go by Sacky. The other 5% is reserved for when mums angry then I'm Sarah. I travel the world as a freelance writer. My location is constantly changing. Chosen by the waves, season and vibe. My kryptonite is sunsets after a solid salty session, a few beers, guitar jams, smiling friends and a blazing beach bonfire.