Surfing and yoga are two excellent ways to keep fit and to clear the mind, but ever wondered if they could be done as a partnership?
We’re gonna take you through it.
Yoga And Surfing: The Ultimate Duo
Both yoga and surfing benefit the body and mind. Most notably are the following areas:
Undoubtedly, it’s easier to surf the stronger you are. Getting out in the water requires serious upper body and leg power. Practising the art of yoga will support these areas. Some of the poses in yoga will build your core, perhaps better than working out everyday at the gym!
Learning to relax and stretch correctly whilst taking part in yoga certainly will help in your flexibility. Being flexible while surfing can help with your bottom turn and hopping up on the board.
It will also help the muscles after a good surf to recover – meaning you’ll be less likely to injure yourself.
It goes without saying that balance is vital when surfing. Yoga can help you with your balance through the practise of balancing with poses. It will also help with focusing your mind – focussed minds can focus on surfing!
Fundamental in yoga. The right breathing technique will also assist with your focus on the waves.
Your Mental Health
Yoga brings your mind and your body together as one. This connection will bring you closer to your goals by making you less stressed and bringing your body to relaxation.
The 10 Best Yoga Poses For Surfers
Yoga is complex and it can be difficult to know what poses will work for you when surfing. Let’s take a look at some of the best poses that could help.
Supported Headstand (The Salamba Sirsasana)
The practise will require you to remain upright whilst upside down. Put the support on your forearms and head. This pose will strengthen your core and calm your mind.
The Lotus (The Padmasana)
A pose mainly for the mind, but it does give a support to your lower back – essential when surfing. It requires you to sit cross-legged with your feet on your thighs. At first, it might be uncomfortable or painful but with practise, you’ll get there and feel the full benefits.
The Twist (Bharadvajasana)
Quite simple this one. Sit down with your legs crossed and twist to the left. This assists your core and builds muscles in your lower back. Really good pose to get into yoga with, due to its simplicity.
The Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
One of the most recognizable poses in yoga. Hands and feet are placed on the floor and lift your back up, in the shape of an acute angle. Great for your core and upper body strength.
The Hero (Supta Virasana)
This pose involves getting on your knees, putting your arms behind you and gripping your toes. Now, stretch all the way back. This will give your legs and torso a good stretch. All aspects of yoga (breathing, strength etc.) are brought into play here.
The Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana)
This pose is another highly identifiable yoga classic. Bend your right knee and stretch the left leg back. Your arms need to be stretched out, one in front of you and one behind. Most of your body is stretched here and it has the added benefit of helping with back pains or discomforts.
The Seat (Paschimottanasana)
Another basic one. Sit down with your legs stretched out in front of you. Then bend your torso with your hands on your toes. This will give your legs a real stretch and strengthen your muscles in your back.
The Sphinx (Salamba Bhujangasana)
This starts with you lying on the floor flat. Then, put your hands down with your elbows slightly bent. Push up from this position with your head looking directly up. Of course, this position will look like a sphinx.
The Camel (Ustrasana)
This position will require some practise to get right. Get onto your knees and lean all the way back, putting your hands on your toes. Your head should be looking at the ceiling now. This pose will stretch your abdominal muscles and give your whole body a real test.
The Chair (Utkatasana)
Simple but effective. Stand and then slightly bend your knees. Now, stretch your arms all the way up either side of your head. This will resemble a chair shape. A good breathing exercise and great for the heart.
Yoga Before Surfing
Doing some yoga before surfing will be of great help. Getting some training for your lung capacity before exerting serious energy is massively beneficial.
Not just that, if you’re a beginner or have any sort of anxiety about the water – yoga can calm you right down before getting out on the board.
It is recommended to start with some basic breathing exercises. In and out. If you’re doing yoga right before hitting the waves, it is better to not do any poses that are too challenging or that you are not used to.
Best poses for pre-surfing are:
. Warrior 2
. Downward facing dog
. Plank (pushup position with your elbows on the floor)
. The twist
Yoga After Surfing
This is key to preventing injuries caused by fatigue and muscle use. A post-yoga session can help you relax, reflect and rejuvenate. There are some great poses to help with this:
. Meditation (sat cross-legged with your eyes closed. Listen to the waves)
. The lotus
. Broken branch (lying face down with your right arm over to the left, your left arm over to the right)
Vinyasa Yoga For Surfing
Vinyasa yoga is effectively “flow” yoga. Going from pose to pose. This is great practise for surfers who want to improve their movements on the board – going from paddling to standing requires a lot of strength, balance and discipline.
There are some great flow programmes out there – some of which are done at surfer camps.
Let’s take you through an example sequence that can improve your balance and strength.
Note: Before every pose; remember to breathe! Inhale… exhale.
- The standing twist: Stand up and move your arm straight up whilst slightly twisting your hips
- Downward facing dog
- Low lunge (one knee down, other leg spread far)
- Downward facing dog
- Low lunge
- Warrior 2 twist
These poses are fantastic exercise and will improve your general fitness for surfing – but this particular sequence is perfect training for surfing pop-up.
For those that have been surfing, you’ll know the sheer dynamic strength and power required to go from a horizontal position and pop up to a standing position.
Using A Yoga/Swiss/Exercise Ball
There are a variety of exercises that can improve your body and mind ready for surfing and a great one is the use of the yoga ball. Here are some methods:
The Jackknife: Move into a push-up position with your feet and toes on the ball. Move the ball with your feet closer to your chest. This will improve your core strength and concentration.
The Plankx1: Get into a push-up position and plank with the ball. Your muscles will strengthen all over as your body fights the urge to fall off
The Plankx2: Same method but use only 1 hand
Dumbbell Challenges: Hold two dumbbells and lie flat on the ball. Lift the dumbbells from one side of your body to the other. Your core is being worked with your upper body and your lower body is also getting stronger as it tries to stay in position.
Another idea is to kneel on the ball (after you’ve got your composure) and slowly move the dumbbells at the same time above your shoulders.
Bird Dogs: You’ve got one knee on the ball, your other leg is stretched to the back (off the ball.) You have one hand on the ball and the other arm is stretched straight in front of you (like a Superman.)
What Are The Other Exercises?
Along with yoga, you could opt to use an indo-board (balancing on a board) or think of typical core exercises you might find in your local gym or health club.
Core exercises are by far the most beneficial for surfing. Great core exercises that a lot of surfers swear by are:
- Push-ups (this is actually a crucial one. If you can perfect a push-up, you’ll invariably improve your pop-up)
- Dumbbell twist
- Bungee twist with one arm
- Bear crawls (you get on your hands with your feet as close to your chest as you can. Crawl up and down an area. This takes all your bodyweight and is a fantastic core exercise)
- Kettlebell lunge/squat
We’ve seen just how inter-linked surfing and yoga are. The same disciplines and fitness are required to be a great surfer, as it is to be a yogi.
It’s important to stay fit both physically and mentally and if that improves your surfing – that’s a huge bonus right? Have fun hitting the waves!