Are you a surfer with dreams of catching the perfect wave? Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned surfer, incorporating yoga into your surf routine can help improve your balance, strength, and flexibility.
Get ready to ride those waves with ease and grace. Let's dive into the world of yoga for surfers and discover how this ancient practice can help you catch the perfect wave, including FREE workout videos!! So make sure you stick around until the end!
Yoga is not just about achieving the perfect pose; it's a practice that connects the mind, body, and breath. By incorporating yoga into your fitness routine, you can increase your body awareness, improve your focus, and gain mental clarity – all essential qualities for catching waves and staying in perfect balance on your surfboard. From dynamic yoga flows that build core strength to restorative poses that promote recovery, there are a variety of yoga practices that can complement your surf training.
The benefits of yoga for surfers
Yoga offers a wide range of benefits for surfers:
🧘 Firstly, it helps to improve balance and stability.
Surfing requires core strength and the ability to maintain balance on a constantly moving surface. Yoga poses such as Tree Pose and Warrior III can help strengthen the muscles used for balance and stability, allowing you to stay on your board with ease.
🧘♂️ Secondly, yoga improves strength, flexibility, and recovery.
Many surfers struggle with tight muscles, particularly in the shoulders, hips, and hamstrings. Yoga poses like Downward Dog and Pigeon Pose help to stretch and strengthen these areas, allowing for a greater range of motion and preventing injuries.
🧘♀️ Additionally, yoga promotes mental focus and relaxation.
Surfing requires concentration and the ability to stay calm under pressure. The mindfulness and breathing techniques learned in yoga can help you stay present in the moment, allowing you to make split-second decisions and ride waves with confidence.
1. Pre-surf warm-up for stability and balance
Before hitting the waves, it's important to warm up your body and prepare it for the demands of surfing. Start with a few rounds of Sun Salutations to awaken your muscles and get your blood flowing.
This sequence of poses, including Downward Dog, Plank, and Cobra, helps to warm up your entire body and increase joint mobility.
Virabhadrasana 3/ Warrior 3: Single Leg Deadlift
Next, focus on exercises that target stability and balance. One effective warm-up exercise is the Single Leg Deadlift. Stand on one leg and hinge forward at the hips, reaching forward with both hands or your opposite hand towards the ground while extending your opposite leg behind you. You can also 'play' with your balance after a bit of practice moving the arms around, forward and back, and into a prayer position in front of your chest.
This exercise strengthens your core and improves your balance, which is crucial for maintaining stability on your surfboard.
Vasisthasana: Side Plank
Another great warm-up exercise is the Side Plank. Start in a plank position, then shift your weight onto one hand and rotate your body to the side, lifting your opposite arm towards the ceiling. Hold for a few breaths before switching sides. At first, if this is too strong, you can always drop the bottom knee to build arm and side core strength.
This pose targets the muscles in your shoulders, core, and legs, helping to build strength and stability.
A Beginner-friendly 50-minute Yoga Core Warm-Up:
2. Yoga stretches for shoulder support
Surfing puts a lot of strain on the shoulders, so it's important to stretch and strengthen this area to prevent injuries.
Gomukhasana: Cow Face Pose
One effective stretch is the Cow Face Pose. You can either focus just on the arms or the upper and lower body (full pose) to get a deep stretch for the whole body.
Upper body/Arms only - Sit on the ground with cross legs bring one arm overhead and bend it at the elbow. Reach your other arm behind your back (opposite direction, downwards) and try to clasp your hands together. If the hands don't reach, grab clothing or use a strap/belt or something between the hands.
Lower body/Legs (also known as 'Shoe Lace' pose independently) - Sitting on the ground, extend the legs out in front of you, then bend your right knee and step the right foot over the left leg, then lean to the left and bend your left knee underneath, coming into a tighter version of a cross-legged position (to bring both knees as close together as you can - a great hip stretch!).
The full variation (upper and lower body together) is a great pose for the entire body stretching shoulders, arms, hips, thighs, ankles and back. The upper body/arms 'alone' is one of my favourites for shoulders and helps open up the chest and deeper shoulder muscles, improving your range of motion for paddling.
Ardha Pincha Mayurasana: Dolphin Pose
Another beneficial pose for shoulder support is the Dolphin Pose. Start in a forearm plank position, then lift your hips towards the ceiling, by walking your feet towards your elbows, coming into an inverted V shape. Press your forearms into the ground and draw your shoulder blades towards each other. While here you could also move gently forward and back, to create strength and mobility in the shoulders
This pose helps to strengthen the muscles in your shoulders and upper back, reducing the risk of injuries while paddling.
Adho Mukha Savasana: Downward Dog Pose
Downward Dog, an inverted V shape is great for stretching out the entire back line of the body and lengthening the spine and is good for tight hamstrings.
Variation (deeper stretch) - From downward dog, walk hands towards your feet (halfway) to a short dog to stretch deeper, then take the opposite hand to the opposite leg (wherever you can reach) and gently pull yourself towards that leg creating a spinal twist, stretching both shoulder, spine and legs.
This stretch is great if you're looking for a stabilising pose that strengthens your shoulders, arms and upper back (all used in paddling) plus also great for relieving back pain.
Instant 10-minute shoulder release:
If you’re looking to release tight shoulders, try out our 10-minute Shoulder Stretch. These stretches get deep into the shoulder tissues and work more on connective tissues (like in Yin) rather than muscles.
So take care, hold for as long as feels good and never over-stretch - listen to your body:
3. Yoga for flexibility and mobility
Flexibility and mobility are key for surfers, as they allow for fluid movements on the board.
Anjaneyasana: Low Lunge
One pose that targets both flexibility and mobility is the Low Lunge. Step one foot forward into a lunge position, with your back knee on the ground. Place your hands on your front knee and gently press your hips forward.
This pose stretches the hip flexors and quads, improving your range of motion for turns and manoeuvres on the board.
Pashchimottanasana: Seated Forward Bend
Another beneficial pose for surfers is the Seated Forward Bend. Sit on the ground with your legs extended in front of you, then fold forward from the hips, reaching towards your feet. Bend the knees slightly and do not worry if you cannot reach the toes, just hold whatever part of the legs you can reach and focus on lengthening through the spine, rather than being able to reach the toes!
This pose stretches the hamstrings and lower back, increasing your flexibility for paddling and popping up on the board.
Parivrtta Prasarita Padottanasana: Wide-legged Forward Fold Twists
Begin in a wide-legged forward bend position with your feet apart, and then shift your right hand towards the centre of your mat. Inhale deeply and extend your left arm skyward while simultaneously twisting your upper body to the left, allowing your head to follow your arm. Hold the wide-legged forward bend twist for about 30 seconds before transitioning to the opposite side. Remember to keep softness in your knees and you can use a block or something if your hands don't reach the ground.
A wide-legged forward fold with a twist is a yoga pose combining elements of a wide-legged forward bend and a spinal twist. This pose provides a stretch to the hamstrings, inner thighs, and lower back, while also promoting spinal and shoulder flexibility and balance. Great when you start to work on turns!
4. Yoga for mental focus and relaxation
Surfing requires not only physical strength but also mental focus and relaxation. One effective yoga practice for this is Pranayama or yogic breathing. Sit in a comfortable position and take slow, deep breaths in and out through your nose. Focus on lengthening your inhales, allowing your breath to become slow and steady.
This practice helps to calm the mind, reduce stress, and improve concentration – all qualities that are essential for catching waves and staying composed in challenging conditions.
Try my free 5 minutes breathing exercises:
Another helpful practice for mental focus and relaxation is Yoga Nidra or yogic sleep. 20mins of Yoga Nidra is said to be the equivalent of 2 hours sleep! The best bit is you just come to a comfortable lying down position, make yourself comfortable and close your eyes. Yoga Nidra is a guided meditation and involves being guided through visualisations, and sensations in the body like bringing your awareness to different parts of your body, starting from your toes and moving up to your head. It is very relaxing and the more you practice the more effective it gets! This guided meditation helps to relax both the body and mind, promoting deep rest and rejuvenation.
Try this free 20mins Introduction to Yoga Nidra on our 'Sleep Well Course', scroll down to "The Details' section:
5. Free 2-part Beginner Surf Fit Strength Routine
To further enhance your surfing performance, try incorporating a 2-part Surf Fit Strength Routine into your yoga practice. These exercises are designed to fit around a 'busy' schedule and are recommended to be done 2-3 times a week for 3 weeks. This routine focuses on building strength in the core, upper body, and legs – key areas for surfing:
Beginners Surf Fit Strength - Part 1 Upper Body
Beginners Surf Fit Strength - Part 2 Lower Body
6. Yoga retreats for surfers
If you're looking to immerse yourself in the world of yoga and surfing, consider attending a yoga retreat specifically designed for surfers or a retreat that offers both surf and yoga. These retreats offer the perfect opportunity to deepen your yoga practice, improve your surfing skills, and connect with like-minded individuals.
During a surf and yoga retreat, you can expect to start each day with a yoga class that targets the specific muscle groups used in surfing and warms up the body for a day in the water. Afterwards, you'll have the opportunity to hit the waves and put your newly acquired skills to the test. In the evenings, you can unwind as the sun sets with restorative yoga classes and enjoy delicious, healthy meals that nourish your body.
Designed with different adventurers in mind, here at Wild & Free Adventures our retreats cater to surfers and yogis of all levels, whether you're a newbie catching your first wave or a seasoned pro seeking to refine your skills.
Beyond enhancing your surfing performance, our Surf & Yoga Retreats and Adventures offer a chance to take a break from the daily grind and reconnect with nature. It's a chance for both men and women to rediscover their connection with the world around them.
So, pack your bags, roll out your mat, and get ready for an unforgettable experience that combines the best of yoga and surfing. Your perfect wave is waiting – join us!
Conclusion: Enhance your surfing with yoga
Yoga and surfing are a match made in heaven.
By incorporating yoga into your surf routine, you can improve your balance, strength, flexibility, and mental focus – all essential qualities for catching the perfect wave. From dynamic flows that build core strength to restorative poses that promote recovery, there are a variety of yoga practices that can complement your surf training.
So, next time you head out for a surf session, don't forget to roll out your mat and spend some time on your yoga practice. Not only will it enhance your surfing performance, but it will also bring a sense of peace and harmony to your mind and body. Get ready to ride those waves with ease and grace, and experience the powerful synergy between yoga and surfing.