Written by Emma from noseridersurf.com
Surfing is not merely a sport; it embodies a lifestyle, a deep connection between the surfer and the sea.
The essence of surfing lies not only in the act of riding the waves but also in the harmony between body and mind. It builds a relationship with the ocean which goes beyond the physical and fosters a deeper connection with the ocean and the natural world – some might describe it as being spiritual. With its roots in Polynesia, this ancient practice is complemented by another incredible well. Yoga doesn’t just strengthen muscles and increase flexibility; it fosters mental clarity and mindfulness, enhancing a surfer’s overall performance in the water.
The Symbiosis of Yoga and Surfing
At first glance, the worlds of yoga and surfing might seem disparate, especially when you look at the sharp quick moves of short-boarders accomplishing aerials, but they share an intricate synergy. Yoga’s gentle yet powerful postures align perfectly with the dynamic movements required on the surfboard. With its focus on balance, strength, and flexibility, yoga parallels the demands of surfing, making it an ideal complementary practice.
By engaging the muscles required to flow through asanas, I’ve noticed a marked difference in my performance on my board. I like to keep my daily practice simple, with my focus on breathing into the poses and being mindful of my body.
Yoga Poses for Every Surfer
- Downward Dog: One of the most widely recognized yoga poses, Downward Dog strengthens your arms, wrists and shoulders – crucial for paddling out to the lineup. Stand with your hands and feet on the floor, with your heels touching the ground forming a triangle shape. Try to keep your legs straight without hyperextending the knee joint. If you have tight hamstrings like me, you can ‘peddle-out’ your legs as they build up their flexibility.
- Warrior Poses I and II: These poses increase your endurance and require a surprising amount of concentration to maintain. By stretching the hips, groin and shoulders, they help correct posture which in turn opens up your airways leading to improved circulation. Stand with your feet apart and move into a high lunge position, keeping your front knee bent at a right angle and your back leg stretched out behind you. Use your outstretched arms to help you hold your balance in this pose
- Tree Pose: Balance is key for surfing and whilst it appears to be a simple one, Tree Pose is excellent for building your balance. Stand with your one leg straight and lift the other so your foot is placed on the thigh of your standing leg. Keep your hands gently together in-front of your chest. If you’re struggling to find your balance, I recommend choosing a spot on the ground or ahead of you which isn’t moving and fixing your gaze on it – it works wonders!
- Pigeon Pose: This deep hip opener is a great way to prevent injuries and increase mobility in your hips, which will enable you to have a wide range of motion on your board. It can be a little tough at first, particularly if you have tight hips so take it slowly and remember to keep your hips straight. From all fours, bring your right knee forward, your right ankle should be somewhere in front of your left hip. Then slide your left leg back making sure your heel is pointed towards the ceiling.
Mindfulness and Meditation for Riding Waves
Beyond the physical benefits, yoga equips surfers with a powerful mental tool – mindfulness. Riding the perfect wave demands complete presence of mind and an acute awareness of one’s surroundings as well as body awareness. Yoga teaches practitioners to focus on their breath, promoting a state of mindfulness that is invaluable in the water. By learning to be present in the moment, we can read the waves better and adapt quickly, going with the flow of the ocean. I swear by a quick 10 minute meditation each morning, it helps me feel centered for the day.
Incorporating Yoga into Surfing Routines
Integrating yoga into your routine is not just about the physical postures and movements. Yoga is in the breath, it teaches you how to breathe properly (from your stomach) and how by timing our breathing with our movements we can achieve a state of equilibrium.
Breathing exercises and meditation play a crucial role in calming the mind and increasing lung capacity. This state of oneness has helped me remain calm and composed when conditions are more challenging. I now incorporate some quick yoga stretches and breathing exercises into my pre-surf warm up as I find a few minutes of mindful breathing makes a significant difference in my session. It also helps me calm any nagging imposter syndrome thoughts, and leave my daily life worries on the land so I can enjoy the waves fully.
Embrace the Surf-Yoga Connection
Surfing and yoga have long been known to compliment each other perfectly, they are not just sports one engages with, they come with a lifestyle that nurtures holistic wellbeing. My journey into both of them has been a transformative experience, like the push and pull of the ocean. They move in harmony with one another to elevate mind, body and soul.