Yoga and surfing. While these two activities seem to have stark differences, they are often and increasingly paired together. Other than the admiration of granola-types, what do these two sports have in common? And why are surf legends like Gerry Lopez becoming equally as respected and renowned in the yoga world as they are in the surfing world? It all comes down to what yoga has to offer surfers. Increased mobility, balance, and fluidity. Seems pretty great right? Yoga’s focus on stability, breath control, and strength give surfers exactly what they need to improve out of the water. So, dive in and learn how you can improve your surfing just in time for your next trip to WRSC!
Sukhasana (Easy Pose)
Contrary to its name, Easy pose proves challenging for those of us who spend much of the day seated in chairs, or even on boards in the lineup. To execute this pose, come into a seated position with your butt planted firmly on the floor. Cross your legs with your feet situated directly below your knees. Seem pretty easy right? Not exactly, now you need to press your hip bones into the floor while simultaneously reaching your head up to elongate the spine, pressing your chest outward in the process and keeping your shoulders down. Even though you’re doing a lot, for someone who’s just sitting on the floor, it’s important to keep your face and jaw relaxed during the whole process. As surfers, our hips are very rarely in an open position. We are either sitting on are a board or crouched on top of it riding a wave. This pose is crucial to maintaining proper hip function and health.
Adho Mukha śvānāsana (Downward Facing Dog)
Downward Facing Dog is simple, yet incredibly effective when it comes to training hamstring flexibility, which is key to an efficient pop-up. Begin on the floor on your hands and knees. Your knees should be directly below your hips at the same width, your wrist should be under your shoulders at the same width. Spread your palms, keeping your index fingers parallel. Take a breath, as you exhale lift your knees off the floor, keeping them slightly bent. Start to lengthen your tailbone to the sky. As you continue to breathe, push your quadriceps back and attempt to place your heels on the ground. The pose should be done with your head, neck, and spine in line and with firm arms. When done correctly, Downward Facing Dog will lengthen your hamstrings and calves, strengthen your shoulders, and relieve common back pain.
Virabhadra (Warrior Two)
The Warrior Two pose looks almost identical to that exaggerated surf stance that’s taught on the beach at surf lessons. To execute this pose, begin with your legs spread, with locked knees. Extend your arms, just slightly above parallel to the ground. This is the Five-Pointed Star position. From the Five-Pointed Star, turn your right foot to face outward, running parallel with your extended arm above. Bend your right knee directly over your ankle. Your hips should be open, both arms extended, with your head turned looking down the arm above your bent knee.
Paripurna (Boat Pose)
The boat pose should be your go-to for developing core strength. Core strength in surfing translates directly to increased balance and rotational power, so power surfers listen up. To execute this pose, sit on the floor with your feet extended in front of you. With straight legs and pointed toes, lift your feet off of the floor, raising them to an approximate 45-degree angle. Straighten your arms out in-front of you to maintain balance and hold this pose with a tight core. This ab burner is a must for those who want improved core strength, hamstring flexibility, and even aided digestion.
Urdva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog)
The Upward Facing Dog is possibly the most known and practiced yoga poses by those who do not actually practice yoga. To execute this pose, begin in the pushup position or high plank, lower yourself down into the bottom of the pushup position while shifting your feet so that the tops of your feet are now facing the ground. From there, raise your chest and elongate your spine with a nice slow bend as your chest rises upwards. For surfers, this pose should feel natural, it essentially mimics the first step of a good pop up. This pose will stretch your chest, hips, shoulders, and allow your lungs to expand. Not only does this pose strengthen your legs and shoulders, it increased core awareness and balance in a surf familiar stance.