The 6 Yoga Poses To Improve Your Surfing
These poses can be performed on the beach, right before you jump in the water, or at home post surfing. Hold each pose for around 30 seconds and keep a calm and steady breath. These poses will assist you in increasing the range of mobility in the muscles and joints to help you surf with more fluidity.
The way these poses are performed are a guide to stretch and strengthen. However ultimately you should always move into the poses mindfully and listen to your own body. If a pose does not feel comfortable for you, make any adjustments and modifications to get as comfortable as possible.
Cow face arms - Gomukhasana variation
* Stretches the shoulders, triceps and chest. Perfect for more fluid and powerful paddling, as the more lengthened our muscles are, the more force they can produce *
- Sit comfortably in a cross leg position, evening out the weight of the body into the sit bones. Drawing your attention to elongating the spine from the tailbone up to the crown of the head.
- Extend both arms out to the side of the body (creating a T shape).
- Reach the right arm up to the sky, bending the right elbow and dropping the right hand down towards the base of the neck. Rotate the left arm inwards so the back of the hand faces toward the front of the mat. Sweep the left arm behind the body, placing the left arm on the back.
- Squeeze the shoulder blades toward one another and try to clasp both hands together.
- Ensure that the right elbow doesn’t drop down to the side of the body. Focus on pointing the elbow to the sky.
- If you can’t clasp the hands together, you can use a strap or even a towel to move the hands closer together.
- Don’t forget to do the same stretch on the other arm.
Half boat pose – Ardha Navasana
* Tones the abdomen, strengthens the lower back and hip flexors. During surfing the abdomen is engaged almost 100 percent of the time, even whilst paddling. Strong hip flexors are essential to propel your legs forward from lying to standing in the pop up manoeuvre and of course, a strong lower back helps to keep us arched into the correct paddling position.*
- Start in a seated position with the knees bent and the soles of the feet are flat on the mat.
- Place the hands along side of the hips and creating length in the spine.
- Leaning the body back a couple of inches, lift the feet off the mat so they are up at 90 degrees so that you’re balancing on the sit bones. Maintain the length in the chest and the spine.
- Flex the feet in toward the body and if its not too much pressure on the lower spine, you can lengthen your arms along side of the lower legs, palms facing towards the legs.
Extended puppy pose – Uttana Shishonasana
*Stretches shoulders and upper back, a great yin style movement that can help relieve post surf tension that builds up from the repetitive movement of paddling*
- Starting on all fours in a tabletop position.
- Hips stacked over knees, knees hips width. Shoulders over wrists, wrists shoulders width.
- Resting the feet with the toes pointing to the back of the mat.
- Walk the hands one or two feet towards the front of the mat. As the chest descends towards the mat, rest the forehead down gently with no tension in the neck.
- Spread the fingers nice and wide. Create a nice space between the shoulders and the upper arms.
- Keep the arms active. Hips aren’t resting on the ankles, sit bones reach up to the sky.
Downward facing dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana
*Stretches hamstrings, calves, and shoulders. Tight hamstrings can cause us to limit our range of motion and appear hunched and a little awkward when compressing. Compression in surfing is used when trying to create and maintain speed, as well as through turns*
- Starting in a tabletop position on all fours.
- Walk the hands about one handprint forward towards the front on the mat. Spread the fingers as wide as you can.
- Lift the sit bones up to the sky keeping a slight micro bend in the knees.
- Tucking down the tailbone to prevent overarching in the lumbar region.
- Feet hips width, hands shoulders distance apart. Wrapping inner thighs toward each other. Almost like you’re holding a block between the thighs.
- Feel the sensation that you’re pushing the floor away with your hands. Try not to lock the elbow joint.
- If possible straighten out the knees a little bit more and draw the heels towards the mat. Try not to lock the knee joint and don’t force the heels down.
- Keep a nice space between the shoulders and upper arms.
- Keep the gaze down to the floor, don’t let the head hang down.
Pigeon pose – Eka Pada Rajakapotasana variation
* Stretches hip flexors, hip rotators, glutes, psoas and groin (over all opening the hips.) Surfers often have problems with their hips, especially as they age, so it's important to add some movement that works on opening and restoring proper mobility in this area*
- Start in a downward facing dog.
- Bend your left knee in toward the chest and roll the shoulders over the wrists and place the left knee behind the left wrist.
- Place the left ankle and foot away from the pelvis try to scoot it towards the front of the mat (be mindful that this will make the hip opener a bit more intense).
- Lower down the right leg and extend it long behind the body and relax the toes down onto the mat. Ensure that the back leg is engaged at all times, no allowing the right ankle to flop to either side.
- Engaging both of the legs and try to imagine that you’re levelling off the pelvis toward the front of the mat.
- Gently sinking into the hips, lowering the left sit bone down. If you feel like the hips aren’t level, place a pillow or a towel underneath the left sit bone to level off the hips.
- Lengthen the upper body, elongating the spine, rest the palms of the hands down onto the mat and keep the gaze toward.
- Again make sure you do the same pose on the opposite leg.
Salabasana – Locust pose
*Strengthens the glutes, arms and legs, and opens up the chest. When paddling it is important to have some engagement in the glutes. This helps to keep the body streamlined and suctioned onto the board, so that the force you create from your paddle pushes you forward with maximum efficiency.*
- Start by lying on the stomach, extending the legs behind and allow the arms to relax along side of the body.
- Lift the head, chest, arms, shoulders and legs off the mat. The lower belly and pelvis should remain on the mat.
- Squeeze the glutes and firm the thighs. Point the toes to the back of the mat.
- The arms should be parallel to the floor and engaged. Palms facing in toward the body.
- Squeeze the shoulder blades toward one another and keep the gaze down to the mat so that spine and neck are in one straight line.
- If you suffer from lower back pain, you can place the palms down onto the mat for more support.
Model/yoga instructor : Holly Cahill