Yoga is ideal to add into a daily routine for surf training, to increase your flexibility and bring you more peace of mind, to stay focused in the water. These sequences of yoga postures (asanas), easy to do on the beach pre-surf, are beneficial for preparing the larger muscle groups used for surfing, such as the hip flexors, shoulders, back, obliques, glutes, and hamstrings.
Whilst doing these poses, breathe deeply in and out through your nose and hold each pose for 5 breaths.
1. Squat with Side Lunge
WHY: Improves balance and core strength, helps opening the hip flexors, glutes, stretches and strengthens the hamstrings, back and neck, it is essential for surfers to have a good range of movement through the hips.
HOW TO: With your feet a bit wider than hip width, squat and reach your sitting bones towards the earth (if your heels do not reach the earth, place a folded towel under your heels or make sand pillows). Lift your chest and crown of head towards the sky. Bring your palms to press together in front of your chest and rest your elbows on the insides of the knees. To move into the side lunge, extend your right leg out to the right and flex your foot so your toes leave the earth and draw back towards your shin, and you are resting on your heel. Keep your hands on the earth if you need them for balance, otherwise, bring the palms of your hands together in front of your chest. Push into the left foot to ensure you are using your leg strength and not putting pressure on your joints. Hold for five breaths and repeat on the other side.
2. Extended Side Angle Pose
WHY: Intense stretch for both sides of the body, strengthens the legs, increases flexibility in the hip joints, stretches the thighs and back, opens the shoulders and chest, stretching the broadest muscle of the back, hips and quadriceps for powerful surfing. Energises the whole body.
HOW TO: Starting from a high lunge position with the right foot forward and the feet roughly 3-4 feet apart, bring the left heel towards the earth so that the heels of both feet align and the toes of the left foot turn towards the right foot. Extend your left arm straight up to the sky and turning the left palm to face toward your head reach the arm over your left ear, with the palm facing the earth. Feel the stretch through the entire left side of your body. If your neck allows, turn your head to look at the left arm. Try to find equal length of the right side of your torso as you do on the left. Hold for 5 breaths and repeat on the other side.
3. One-Legged Downward-Facing Dog Pose
WHY: Lengthens the legs and reduces stiffness in the shoulders, strengthens the arms and legs, raising one leg bent at the knee and lifting the hip provides hip opening which is key to surfing performance.
HOW TO: Stepping your feet and hands just over a metre apart, with the feet parallel to each other, hip width apart and the hands shoulder width apart, draw the chest back towards your thighs coming into downward facing dog. Engage the muscles of your thighs and draw your heels down towards the earth (keep knees bent if hamstrings are tight or you will any discomfort in the lower back). You will feel an intense stretch from your buttocks, to your spine and down to your hands. From downward facing dog ground your left heel and raise your right leg to the sky, bend your right knee and open the hip as you lengthen the tailbone. Breath into your side body for 5 breaths, straighten your leg, level the hips and and release the foot to the earth. Repeat on the other side.
4. Low Lunge Pose
WHY: Warms up the hip flexors, stretches the psoas, torso, lower abs and lower back.
HOW TO: Step the right foot forward about one meter and lower the back knee to the earth and untuck the toes. Lunge onto the front leg until it forms a right angle (90°) where the knee is directly above the ankle and you feel a stretch in the left thigh and hip flexors. Reach your left arm to the sky, and extend the arm overhead towards your right, creating a lateral stretch on the left side. Hold for 5 breaths. Return to downward facing dog and switch sides.
5. Standing Forward Bend
WHY: Lengthens hamstrings and spine, opens chest and loosens shoulders.
HOW TO: Stand with your feet hip width apart and clasp your hands behind your back, lift your chest for expansion, gaze to the sky and draw your hands down towards your feet. Then fold forward from the hip crease, lengthening the spine and extending the arms overhead, draw your shoulders away from your ears, opening and stretching your paddling muscles. Press into your heels, engage your thigh muscles and use your core strength to bring you back to a standing position.
6. Standing Spinal Twist
WHY: The twisting action from the waist in this pose makes the waist supple and flexible, toning the back muscles and the abdomen.
HOW TO: From the previous pose, lower the arms to the earth and widen your stance so the feet are about 1 metre apart. Place one hand directly under your chest as you lift the other arm to the sky, rotating the chest to the sky, hold for 5 breaths. Release that arm to the earth and repeat on the other side.
7. Eagle Pose (Arms)
WHY: Stretches shoulders and the lower and upper back.
HOW TO: Come to a kneeling position with your toes tucked under so you feel a deep stretch in the feet, and sit back on your heels. Extend your arms out to the sides turning the palms up toward to the sky, then extend them out in front of you crossing the arms in front of your torso, so the right arm is under the left arm and bend your elbows. Relax the shoulders down as you gently lift the elbows so the forearms are perpendicular to the earth and the backs of your hands are facing each other. Enjoy the stretch across your upper back and shoulders.
By Kath Moore