Surfing is a great way to keep yourself active. Not only does it help strengthen your body, but it can help calm your mind as well. The benefits of surfing are not unknown, whether you are an expert or just getting started.
However, surfing can also leave your body sore at times, around the shoulders and your back, especially when you are still getting into the habit of surfing. Aches and pains are actually quite common; stretching, massaging, and doing light workouts can help alleviate them. But we recommend a more robust solution: post-surfing yoga.
Surfing and Yoga for a Healthier Body and Mind
Yoga will help give your body the strength, balance, and flexibility it needs to perform well on the waves. Yoga practices are also known to help calm the mind and alleviate stress. When paired with surfing, this centuries-old practice can be incredibly beneficial for both the mind and the body. Many people simply crave the “stillness” yoga and surfing has to offer, a momentary calm in a rather hectic lifestyle. You will find yourself far more grounded once you incorporate both practices into your day-to-day activities.
The Best Yoga Practices to Incorporate in Your Post Surfing Sequence
Some instructors might have you complete certain yoga poses in a specified order, but there is no real right or wrong yoga order. You simply need to make sure that your sequence has a flow. It is recommended to begin with floor asanas to loosen your muscles before going into more complex standing poses. Consider what you hope to achieve by the practice and which part of your body you hope to target for the best results.
For surfers, we usually pay attention to three central areas of focus; the arms and shoulders, the hips, legs and lower back, and finally, the spine and core. Here are some recommended yoga poses you can incorporate into your sequence accordingly.
For Arms and Shoulders
If your arms are sore from paddling while surfing, this pose should help you straighten them out. The Eagle pose is meant to stretch your upper back and shoulders and facilitate healthier movement patterns of the shoulder complex when you are paddling. Since 50-60% of your total time surfing usually ends up paddling, you need to work on your arms and shoulders.
Child's Pose or Balasana
Next, we have the child's pose, a great way to alleviate any tightness in your shoulders and arms from paddling. The child’s pose helps you release the muscles of your body as you stretch forward and breathe in and out.
Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward-Facing Dog
The downward-facing dog is one of the most popular yoga poses used by surfers and non-surfers alike. It is an excellent pose to help loosen up the muscles of your shoulder girdle (the set of bones that connect your arms to your trunk) and open up your hamstrings. This yoga pose is popular because it works on flexibility and building strength simultaneously, offering twice the benefits.
For Hips, Legs, and Lower Back
King Arthur's Pose
King Arthur’s pose will have you now focus on your legs and hips, particularly the hip flexors and quadriceps (hip flexor and knee extensor muscles). This pose is a bit more challenging but is incredibly effective at loosening up tight quadriceps that may make your legs and hips sore.
Cobra Pose or Bhujangasana
Now, we move our focus to the lower back and abdominals with the Cobra pose, a type of backstretch meant to target the lower back, hips, and thigh muscles. It will also help you build strength and flexibility, increase your range of motions, and stretch out the shoulders and chest. Cobra pose can be quite effective at lowering back pain as well.
Pigeon Pose or Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
The pigeon pose helps stretch your hips and lower back, improving the flexibility of your hip flexors and lower back muscles. This also helps to alleviate sciatic and back pain and any lower back stiffness due to long surfing sessions and paddling. Overusing hips flexors can make them stiff; the pigeon pose will help successfully release any built-up tension inside your hips.
For the spine and core
Virabhadrasana II or Warrior II Pose
The Warrior 2 pose is a great way to strengthen your body’s core and increase stamina and focus. That’s not all; this is a full-body pose meaning that it will put all of your muscles to work, including your legs, glutes, hips, core, chest, shoulders, and arms. The longer you hold this pose, the more you develop endurance and stamina.
The warrior 2 pose looks similar to a standard surfing stance. When you practice the warrior 2 pose, you strengthen your core stamina which is much needed if you hope to improve your surfing capabilities.
Seated Side Stretch or Parsva Upavistha Konasana
Let's keep our focus on the spine now; the seated side stretch or the side bend pose is an excellent pose to work with! It is a rather soothing yoga pose that will stretch out your neck, shoulders, and back, almost the entirety of your spine. This yoga pose will help loosen and release any tension in your spine and back.
Meditation, A Part Of Post Surfing Yoga
Surfing can be incredibly therapeutic on its own; meditation, however, can prove to be complementary to the art of surfing. While the stretches from yoga will help cover the physical aspects of surfing, you can use meditation to ease the stress and the frustrations building up in your mind. Mediation paired with surfing will have you successfully focusing on the complete mind-body-soul trio.
Mediation does not have a strict sequence to follow, but it will help you focus on breathing and letting go of thoughts clouding your mind. It is a great way to unwind after a stressful day, especially when you have just finished a surfing session. The best part: you don't have to be a pro at either to gain the benefits of these activities!