Similar to many extreme sports, surfing requires a high level of concentration, balance and co-ordination. Dedicated training is required in order to surf to the best of your ability and yoga can be a helpful complimentary exercise. As well as helping to improve your flexibility, strength and balance, it also develops your ability to keep focused. Here are 3 simple yoga poses that you can practice before surfing to help prepare your body and mind.
Warrior 1 (Virabradrasana A)
GOOD FOR: Strengthening your shoulders, arms, legs, hips, ankles and back. Opens your chest. Improves focus, balance and stability.
In order to practice Warrior 1, step your front foot straight forward and position your back foot at 45 degree angle. Your feet aren’t on a type rope here; have a little space in between your feet so that you are able to square your hips to the front of the mat. Bend into your front knee and notice that your knee is directly above your ankle or less. With your hips facing forward, see if you can gently lengthen the tailbone down towards the mat to find a neutral positioning of the pelvis. As you raise your arms up straight above your head, ensure that your shoulders are relaxed as you draw your shoulder blades towards one another and broaden your chest. There is a tendency here to flare into the front ribs so notice that you are using your core muscles here by knitting the front ribs back.
GOOD FOR: strengthening and increasing flexibility throughout the entire back of the body, including the spine, legs, buttocks, and all of the muscles surrounding your ribs and upper torso.
Lie on your front with your neck long and forehead touching the mat. Stretch your arms in front of you, palms facing towards one another shoulder width apart. With your feet hip width apart, point your toes directly behind you. Firm up in your legs and draw your pubic bone down towards the ground. On your inhale, straighten your arms as you use the muscles along the backside of your body to raise chest and legs simultaneously. Hold this pose for 5 breaths, breathing slowly and evenly in and out through your nose.
Warrior 3 (Degasana)
Good for: Strengthening the ankles and legs. Strengthening the shoulders and muscles of the back. Toning the abdomen and improving balance and posture.
From standing step one foot back into a high lunge position with your front knee bent and left leg straightened behind you with your hips facing the front of you mat. From here, bring the midline of your torso (from the pubis to the sternum) half way down. Stretch your arms forward with your palms facing towards one another. From here, start to slowly straighten your front leg and bring your weight forward into your front foot. Keeping your hips facing down towards the mat, start to raise your leg behind you. Ensure that your upper body stays strong here and take your gaze to look ahead but be sure not to compress the back of your neck. Hold this pose for 5 deep breaths and to come out of the pose simply step your foot back to standing. Repeat Degasana for the same length of time on the other side.
To really benefit from these yoga poses, practice them in this order before you go on the water to prepare your muscles for surfing that day. Holding the poses for shorter durations (3-5 breaths) will help to ease the tissues and create circulation before going out on the water. Notice that you want to go gently, looking to relax and ease into the stretches rather than going as far as you can, this will help minimize your soreness and leave your ready for more surfing.