… fish and chips, peanut butter and jam, avocado and marmite (seriously try it). Basically they are the perfect compliment to each other. We all know that the best training for surfing is surfing, but if you can’t get in the water, get on the mat. Even if you are surfing loads, get on the mat because all that back bending whilst paddling, hunching when going for a wave and rigidness of the feet whilst standing up can put pressure on the lower back, close your chest and round your shoulders and can stiffen your hips.
Now I’m no yoga guru, but I’ve been practising yoga pretty regularly for about three years and have incorporated a real good yoga-surf specific warmup at Errant Surf School in Newquay. Basically I totally appreciate the benefits yoga gives and try to pass this onto our students at the surf school.
The below yoga poses are my top five that I think every surfer should learn. They are about lengthening and releasing pressure in the spine, opening the chest and opening the hips to help rebalance your body from all that surfing.
*NOTE – These may not be the actual names of the yoga poses and they may not be executed perfectly by the model (my girlfriends little sister who has never done yoga before but I needed someone to take pics of as I’m currently injured) so I would 100% recommend going to your local yoga class. These are just some basics that I think help. Enjoy!
First things first, breathing – before practising these postures take a few minutes to engage with your breath. Sit on your mat or a towel on the floor, inhale into the rib cage and expand your chest. As you exhale draw your belly in. Focus on the breath whilst working in the postures; try not to hold your breath, flow with your breath and inhale as you move into pose, exhale as you move out of it. Each breath should be slow, deep, and even.
Pose 1: Downward Dog
- Lengthens hamstrings and calves and stretches the shoulders, hands and feet
- Strengthens your whole body
- Energises the body
- Relieves back pain
1. Get on the floor onto your hands and knees, with your knees directly under your hips, hip width apart and your wrists under your shoulders, shoulder width apart. Spread your palms and tuck your toes under.
2. Take an inhale and as you exhale lift your knees off the floor. Keeping the knees slightly bent lengthen your tail bone to the sky.
3. Continue to breath, with an exhale reach your heels towards the ground. Don’t lock your knees, keep your knees a little bent if you have trouble grasping this.
4. Focus on keeping your arms firm pressing through your fingers as if they were stuck to the ground.
5. Allow the head and neck to stay long and follow the natural line of the spine, don’t strain.
6. Try to hold for a minute, breathing into the rib cage.
Pose 2: Plank
- Strengthens arms and core
- Mentally tough pose that teaches us to breathe
- Start in a push up position.
- Make sure palms are directly under shoulders.
- Push heels towards the wall behind you.
- Tuck abs, engage your bum and legs and breathe.
Pose 3: Upward Dog
- Strengthens the arms, wrists and abds
- Increases the flexibility of the spine
- Great for pre/post surf
- From the plank pose, lower into the bottom part of a push up (prone position).
- Flip your toes so the tops are on the ground.
- Reach your chest up but don’t strain your neck
Pose 4: One Legged King Pigeon
- Opens the hips
- Stretches the thighs, groin and psoa muscles
- Opens and releases the chest and shoulders
1. Go back into Downward Dog after youyr upward dog and from Downward Facing Dog, bring your right knee up and in towards the chest. Drop the knee in between the hands towards the right wrist. Draw your ankle out from under the body and allow your right outer shin to rest on the floor. Don’t create pressure in the knee, allow the ankle to be where is comfortable for your knee (I’m struggling with injury at the moment so my leg is pretty much bent straight back but it is astill a good stretch and is better to gain flexibility slowly and gradually)
2. Your left leg should be extended straight from the hip and lengthened backwards.
3. Inhale lengthen the spine and sit tall opening your chest and shoulders. Exhale and release your torso over the bent leg extending your arms in front of you and rest your forehead on the floor. You can also come onto your forearms if more comfortable.
4. Inhale and slide your hands back towards your bent leg, lifting up and sitting tall. Exhale back into Downward Facing Dog.
5. Repeat on the other side; hold on each side for a good few breaths.
Pose 5: Wide Legged Standing Forward Fold with twist
- Stretches shoulders, upper back, hamstrings, calves, hips, lower back and lengthens spine
- Strengthens upper back, shoulders and legs
- Relieves neck and shoulder tension
- Opens the chest, shoulders and hips
- Draws together the shoulder blades
1. Stand at the front of your mat, place your hands on your hips and step your feet wide apart. Align your toes and heels and make sure the edges of your feet are parallel.
2. Inhale and lengthen your torso and as you exhale fold forward from the hips, bending the knees slightly.
3. Bring your hands to rest of the floor between your legs and under your chest. If your hands do not come to the floor use a block or a few books/ rolled up towel under your hands. Bring your left hand to the centre, still under your chest. Inhale and extend your right arm towards the sky. Keep your arm vertical and lengthen through the fingertips.
4: Exhale and release your arm down, inhale and with your right hand on the ground at centre, lift your left arm.
5. Ensure you twist through the torso rather than twisting through the hips, keep your hips level. Repeat 5 times on both sides.
6. Return both hands to centre. Turn your toes out and heels in slightly, squatting down. Bring your hands to your hips. Inhale and with a strong long spine lift your torso up. Keep the back as flat as possible.
Again, I would 100% recommend going to your local yoga class before going HAM on this yoga stuff. These are just some basics that will help with your surfing.