Kitesurfing requires a high level of concentration and co-ordination in every movement you make. In order to practice kiting to the best of your ability, hours of training is required and yoga can be an effective complimentary exercise. Not only does it help to improve your flexibility, strength and balance but it also develops your ability to keep focused. Here are 3 simple yoga poses that you can practice before and after your kiting session to help prepare your body and mind.
GOOD FOR: Stretching the Psoas muscle and broadening the chest to help improve posture.
Excessive kiting can easily fatigue the abdominal muscles. When this happens, the main hip flexor – the Psoas – starts to substitute the abs. For this reason, it is common for kitesurfers to have very contracted Psoas muscles. Over time, this can cause problems for the lower back. For this posture, Low Lunge, make sure that your front bent knee is directly above the ankle and that your knee is tracking over the foot. You can simply place both hands on your front knee or clasp your hands behind you. In either option, make sure that you draw your shoulder blades towards one another to help broaden your chest. Depending on your flexibility, either look straight ahead or tilt your head upwards (without collapsing into your neck). Hold this pose for 5 deep breaths on each side, breathing in and out through your nose.
GOOD FOR: stretching the abdominal muscles and opening up the chest to help improve posture.
A strong core is crucial for being on the water for several hours. Every jump or turn puts pressure on our upper body, which is mainly supported by our core: the abdominal muscles and muscles in the lower back. For this posture, Cobra, simply lie on your front with your legs straight. Firm up the muscles in your legs and have your feet hip width apart with your toes pointing behind you. Push down through your pubic bone to avoid collapsing into the lower portion of the spine. Place your weight onto your forearms. Ensure that your forearms are parallel to one another with your elbows directly beneath your shoulders. Make sure that your neck is long as you look straight ahead. You can also stretch the muscles in your neck in this pose by simply looking towards your left, right and downwards. As before, practice this pose before and after being out on the water and hold for 5 deep breaths, breathing in and out through your nose.
Downward Facing Dog
GOOD FOR: stretching and strengthening the wrists, arms, shoulders and calf muscles.
In order to transition in to this posture, come onto the floor on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Notice that your feet are hip width apart and your hands are shoulder width apart. Spread your fingers wide. Hug your arm bones into the sockets and push the floor away from you as you lift your hips into the air. Initially, keep your knees bent to allow you to lengthen your spine. Maintaining the length of your spine, slowly straighten your legs and allow your heels to drop towards the ground. Take your gaze to look between your feet. In this Yoga pose, the back should be lengthened along its entire length so be careful not let your chest hang downwards or make your back extremely sunken. Again, hold this pose for 5 deep breaths, breathing in and out through your nose.
To really benefit from these yoga poses, practice them in this order before you go on the water to prepare your muscles for the challenges of the day. Once you have finished your kiting session, repeat the 3 poses in the opposite order and end with a few minutes of relaxation lying on your back. For the pre-kiting session do shorter durations of the poses above to ease the tissues and create circulation and when you get home – if it feels comfortable – stay slightly longer in each pose so the muscles can relax and re-lengthen in preparation for your next day on the water. Notice for both scenarios 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 kiting!