Updated: Feb 26, 2019
Surf loves Yoga! The combination of Yoga & Surf is a truly magical one. On so many ways they complement each other. All though on a physical level I have experienced that yoga is a lot more beneficial for surf than surf is for yoga. Where Yoga opens up the body. Surf tends to close it, as you mainly (over) use the shoulders and there is a strong habit of overarching the lower back. Here’s a list of 5 poses to keep you open & stretched!
1.Mountain pose with hands clasped behind back. (Paschima baddha hastasana)
Why: After a long, fun day of surfing your shoulders might feel like they are up by your ears and your shoulder blades poked forward in full turtle pose.
Benefits: shoulder joint opening & opens chest.
How: Stand with feet hip width apart in mountain pose, clasp your hands behind your back (or place a belt around the wrists if shoulders are very tight) straighten the arms. Now keeping the clavicle bones wide, move the top of the shoulders back, trapezium down & shoulder blades in, hold for 30-60sec. Then change the interlock of the fingers and repeat the same actions.
2. Extended triangle pose (uthhita trikonasana)
Why: One of the most difficult parts of surfing is the take off. This is the moment when you need to get from a supine pose to a standing pose, while riding a long the wave. The main culprit for this difficulty is the hip area.
Benefits: Strengthens and stretches the hips, back, arms, thighs and legs.
How: Place your feet wide apart, feet parallel to each other. Turn your back foot slightly in and front foot, front leg 90degrees out. Have your heels inline with each other. Press the outer back foot strongly in the floor, extend the arms to the side, inhale & on an exhalation extend the front hand down on your leg. Keep a firm outer rotation of the front leg and move the tailbone strongly forward this will start opening the hip on the front leg. Now take the top arm overhead and extend the arm away from your head to start feeling a nice stretch on back leg outer hip area.
NOTE: One of the biggest beginners mistakes in this pose is to want to touch the floor. Instead come up higher. Keeping both shoulders parallel to the floor.
3.Locust pose (shalabasana)
Why: One of my all time favorite poses to stop the habit of overarching the lower back.
Benefits: build strength and flexibility in the back
How: Ly on your belly, face down, arms clasped behind your back. Lift up one leg and move it straight back & down, do the same with the other leg, this extends both legs back. Now move your buttock flesh strongly down towards your heels. Take a deep inhalation and on an exhalation move your legs arms, chest & head simultaneously up. There should be no pain or pressure in the lower back in this pose.
4.Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II) with foot on block
Why: Who doesn’t have tight front groins. If you are not sure where they are. Ly down on your back and place your thumb on your hipbone. Bend one leg to a 90degree angle and move your thumb down into the leg crease this is your front groin and very likely to be tight.
Benefits: Stretches the groins, chest and shoulders
How: Place your feet like in utthita trikonasana, only now wider apart. Again turn the back foot slightly in, front leg, front foot 90 degrees out. Extend both arms up parallel to the floor. Inhale and on an exhalation bend the front leg. Keep both sides of the trunk parallel.
NOTE: Keep the front leg rotated out, so that the knee doesn’t turn inwards while bending the leg to a 90degree angle. When you are in the pose make sure to anchor the outer back foot firmly down & then release deeply into the front groin.
5.Arms in cow face pose (Gomukasana arms)
Why: Lastly back to the shoulders again! As this is the area that suffers the most from surfing.
Benefits: frees the shoulder joints and opens the chest.
How: Raise your top arm. Next take your lower arm to your side and then up your back as far as possible with the back of your hand touching your back. Try to raise your rear hand further up your back. Next with your upper arm grasp the hand of your lower arm behind your back.
NOTE: Gomukasana is a notoriously difficult pose for tight-shouldered people, who aren't able to hook their fingers together. In this case use a belt between your hands if your hands do not come together.
Most of all keep breathing & smiling! Both on your mat & in the water!
(Note that these poses are only very briefly explained in this post, to practice them in depth seek the help of a qualified yoga teacher)