Yoga for Surfers
This blog post will be outlining the benefits of yoga for surfing and some poses you can carry out before and after your surf session. The post is written by Freewave’s Surf Instructor Anna Young and there is a link to her Youtube Channel and Instagram at the bottom of the page.
Yoga and surfing complement each other really well and the practice of both activities together can help massively to improve surfing performance and the overall experience. Yoga focusses on flexibility, strength and balance which is also vital for surfing. Surfing can be very strenuous on your body and it is not uncommon to wake up the following day after surfing with lots of aches and pains from all the paddling and popping up. That’s where yoga can come in – it will prime your body ready for a surf and relieve any tension, aches and pains following a session in the water.
Benefits of yoga for surfing
Relieves any aches, pains and niggles especially in the lower back, hips, shoulders and neck
Increases flexibility in tight areas especially in hamstrings and shoulders
Builds core strength
Increases respiratory health by practising breathe awareness
Yoga teaches you to be patient, stay calm and keep your focus in challenging situations which can be similar for surfing
Leaves you feeling blissfully energised
It takes a lot less time than you think, a quick 5 – 15-minute stretch will do you worlds of good before and after a surf. The key is little and often.
Poses for the pains
Below is the most common aches and pains that surfers experience and different poses to help stretch out any tension and prepare the body for a surf.
Sitting on the board and popping up can really work the hip rotators and can, therefore, become very tight if they are not stretched out before and afterwards. Having increased hip flexibility means you can have a full range of motion which can prevent pressure build up in the lower back.
Pose: Pigeon Pose
Paddling out to sea and to catch a wave requires strong strokes using mostly our shoulders. If they are not stretched out after you will definitely feel it the next day. Although paddling does use your shoulders, it doesn’t include the whole group of muscles on your shoulder. So it is important to strengthen this evenly by holding plank and side plank poses.
Poses: Upward Facing Dog
Holding your front body off the board whilst paddling uses lower back and neck strength. It’s also important to warm up the neck before a session as rapidly rotating the head to check waves coming can cause a strain if not warmed up properly.
Poses: Forward Fold
There is no doubt most surfers have experienced lower back pain after a surf. This can be because of inflexibility in the hips/hamstrings, a weak core or stiffness in the spine. Yoga focusses on strengthening the core using balances and holding poses that require activation of the abdominal muscles.
Increasing core strength will also improve the speed and consistency of your pop up, enhance your balance whilst riding and reduce fatigue so you can stay in the water for longer.
- Childs Pose
- Half Twisted Lizard
Seeing as yoga is all about the union of breath and movement it would be wrong to miss mentioning this key tool in the practice. Breath is also important in surfing of course when you’re being held down after being wiped out. In yoga, a consistent deep inhalation and exhalation help to focus your attention on something constant whilst carrying out the session. Long deep breaths also calm the central nervous system which can help whilst being held down when surfing. So the practice of concentrating on deep long breaths whilst practising both yoga and surfing will help in multiple ways.
Practise: Before the practice of either yoga or surfing take 5 rounds of deep breaths. Inhale for a count of 3, hold the breath at the top for a count of 3, exhale for the count of 3 then hold empty lungs for a count of 3 before repeating. Aim to increase the length of these breaths.
Some experienced yogi monks are able to take a whole minute to complete one breath. This would come in handy to keep calm when taking a few waves on the head!
This Article was written by Anna Young.
Follow Anna on Instagram @anyo_yoga
Keep up to date with lots of yoga videos on Anna’s Youtube channel Anna Young Yoga