Why Yoga Will Improve Your Surfing

Posted on: March 19, 2019 by Holly
Yoga Rise Up

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past 20 years, you’ve probably heard once or twice about the practice of Yoga. And if you live in North America, you probably pass at least one Yoga studio on your commute each day. But unless you actually practice Yoga, you might still be wondering what all the fuss is about. Is Yoga actually that good for you and can it really make you a better surfer? We think yes.

Although it’s predicted that Yoga has been around for some 10,000 years and surfing (in one form or another) for close to 3,000, it’s likely that the two disciplines only came into contact in more recent years, when they became popular in Western culture. But even though the two practices developed on independently for thousands of years, there’s no denying that they compliment each other perfectly.

As two of the most ancient forms of self-expression, both surf and yoga require steady focus and breath, and flexibility and strength. In Yoga philosophy, these dualities are referred to a lot. It’s said that you cannot find balance unless you harness both the yin and the yang, sthira and sukha, steadiness and ease within your mind and body. And it’s because of this, among many other physical benefits, that Yoga is so beneficial for surfing.

Because on a yoga mat you are not battling the extreme conditions of the ocean, you have longer to explore that sense of balance. And once you cultivate it on land, it’s can be easier to apply to your time in the ocean. So when you’re feeling overwhelmed, or when the whole process of catching a wave and standing up seems to fast, you can recall the lessons you learned in Yoga to help you steady the breath and focus the mind, to help keep you present and focused.

But aside from the mental benefits that Yoga brings to the sport of surfing, there’s also the physical component as well. We’ll often observe our guests hobbling around with tight hips and stiff shoulders after their first day out in the surf. So an hour of stretching them out in our clifftop yoga shala is exactly what they need.

The hips will often get tight from straddling your surfboard, and the shoulders from paddling for hours on end. The neck can also get sore if you’re not used to holding your body in prone position for long periods of time. So why wait until you join us down here to begin practicing Yoga? start cultivating some of that strength and flexibility in your body and mind now with these 5 poses that we have found to be perfect preparation for your surfing vacation.

1. Sukhasana (hip-opener)

Sukhasana
Can be done with or without the props. If your lower back is rounding, it’s usually a good idea to sit up on a blanket or a bolster. Cross your legs in front of you. Make sure they are not tucked in too tight, you’re working toward your shins being parallel to the front of your mat. Work the soles of your feet outward. Inhale to sit up tall and exhale as you begin to hinge forward from the hips, reaching through the sternum and walking your hands forward. Pause when you feel like you’re at your limit and inhale to find more extension through the spine. Exhale and fold forward, allowing your head to descend and neck muscles to relax. Repeat for the other side.

2. King Arthur (hip-flexor release)

King Arthur
Start facing away from a wall, on your hands and knees (tabletop), toes curled under and the soles of your feet touching the wall. Bend the right foot towards your right hip and start to bring your bent right knee to the base of the wall. Place a foam block or folded blanket under the right knee. Slide the right shin and top of the foot up the wall vertically, toes pointing straight up. Step your left foot out onto the floor, stacking the ankle directly under the knee. Put slightly more weight in the heel of your left foot. Sink your hips back toward the wall, coming to the inside of your right foot. Repeat for the other side.

3. Locust (prone position)

Locust
Lie on your belly with your arms along the sides of your torso, palms up, forehead resting on the floor. Turn your big toes toward each other to inwardly rotate your thighs. Exhale and lift your head, upper torso, arms, and legs away from the floor. You’ll be resting on your lower ribs, belly, and front pelvis. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and stretch back actively through your fingertips. Reach strongly through your legs and feel a subtle lift of the navel.

4. Dolphin (shoulder opener)

Dolphin
Set your knees directly below your hips and your forearms on the floor with your shoulders directly above your wrists. Firmly press your palms together and your forearms into the floor. Curl your toes under, then exhale and lift your knees away from the floor. Lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling, and from your inner ankles draw the inner legs up. Continue to press the forearms actively into the floor. Firm your shoulder blades against your back. Hold your head between the upper arms; don’t let it hang or press heavily against the floor.

5. Leg Lifts (core stabilizer)

Leg Lifts
Lie on your back, with your legs fully extended along the floor. Stretch your arms alongside
your body, and turn your palms to face the floor. Place hands underneath buttocks for extra support. Bend both knees into your chest then extend them straight up to the sky. Press your core gently toward your spine and begin to slowly lower your legs until they’re hovering off the floor. Slowly bring them back up. Repeat 10 times.
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