How Yoga Can Make You a Better Surfer

Improve your surfing performance by practicing yoga regularly

Cydney Connorr— The connections between yoga and surfing go far beyond the asanas. Ujjayi pranayama and meditations on the mat enhance your calmness and focus on the water. Both surfing and yoga keep you very present and focused, and they share a profound connection to the natural world. But all this said, the physical postures are a great place to start when discussing how your yoga practice can benefit your surfing.

Since it would be challenging to nail down just a few postures to best benefit your surfing (it all helps, and your body will tell you what it needs), I’ve broken my recommendations into three categories to suit a surfing-focused lifestyle.

Preparation for a Surf Adventure
You’ve just dished out some hard-earned cash on a flight to a surf destination you’ve been dreaming about. You want to arrive there stronger and more flexible than when you booked the ticket. Your shoulders, back and core are the most important areas to strengthen—unless you’re headed to Chicama or another epically long wave, in which case consider leg strengtheners as well (lucky you!).

The moves: Balancing postures and standing twists improve your ability to stick drops and make big turns.

Try: Crocodile plank (plank on your forearms, knees lifted). Holding this pose a few times throughout your practice will assist in building strength in the shoulders, back and core. If you desire extra paddling strength to get you into more waves and keep you in the water for extended periods then accept the challenge of crocodile plank pose and all plank variations.

Half moon pose and twisted half moon. This is a big balancing pose that also helps with body awareness as you need to feel where you back leg is in space. Adding twisting variations will increase mobility in your spine and tone abdominal muscles needed for quick pop ups and powerful maneuvers on your surfboard.

Same Day Surf
Instead of hitting class in the morning, which is often the best time to paddle out (since winds are low and the waves are glassy), a surf recovery class will keep you fluid for the following day. That said, should you need a warm up before you paddle out, lightly warm up your body so you don’t tire yourself out, avoiding any long, slow duration stretching. If a dawn patrol isn’t on your agenda, go for a morning practice based around mediation and breath.

The moves: Gentle backbends, gentle twists, simple balancing postures.

Try: Cobra and cobra variations. Cobra shares many properties with your initial body position when popping up on your board. Adding variations (i.e. looking over your shoulders while in cobra) will fine-tune your body for pop-ups.

Supine or seated two-knee twists with active legs. Keep this twist dynamic by finding a windshield wiping action with the legs while either seated or lying down.

Recovery After a Big Session
You surfed epic waves all day and can barely lift your arms. This is my—and will likely be your—favourite time to do yoga.

The moves: Incorporate shoulder openers, hip openers, light neck stretches, supine twists and plenty of forward folds to counter balance your time on the board.

Try: Standing forward fold with yoga mudra. It feels so good to fold forward after having your spine in extension during surfing. Plus, the added element of yoga mudra brings an opening to the chest, space to the neck and relief in the thoracic spine.

Pigeon pose. Hips tend to get tight and tired from sitting on a surfboard and pigeon is a great way to bring a different range of motion to them.

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