What the big deal with yoga anyway?
For some reason, many still think yoga is only for hippies and kale-eating spiritual people. Well if you think this, you couldn’t be further away from the truth.
Yoga enriches you with the perfect core workout as well as a fantastic way to stretch muscles we may not give much regular attention to. Before we look at the core benefits of yoga, let’s see why it also offers an ideal pre-workout stretch routine.
Although many sports people neglect to stretch before a workout, sports game or surf session, I cannot emphasize how important it is to stretch your muscles before any physical activity.
Stretching gets your muscles ready for whatever you are about to do, this not only improves your performance of the activity but it also reduces your risk of serious injury. If muscles are stiff and not ready to defend the body against a fall you could tear them or worse break bones.
I hope I’ve now convinced you of the importance of a good stretch before any sport. Now let’s take a look at how yoga can be the perfect solution.
Yoga on a very basic level is made up of three parts, stretching, core workout and breathing.
Many yoga positions are centered on balance and centering the body, this means we engage our core muscles in order to maintain perfect balance.
While performing each yoga position you concentrate on your breath, the same way you would do when meditating. Taking note of your breath helps the body relax into the stretch and you are able to push yourself a little further and really get those muscles working.
There are a few sports I can think of where balance, flexibility, and focus are really important, skateboarding, skiing, wakeboarding, and of course surfing.
Now that you know a little more about the benefits of yoga perhaps you can see how beneficial it can be for your surfing. Let’s have a look at the top 5 helpful poses to improve your surfing.
Top 5 Yoga Positions for Surfing
The downward dog is a standard yoga pose which many will be aware of. What are the benefits and what’s the hype about it? Well, the downward dog gives the body a phenomenal stretch.
By stretching your body into the downward dog position you are getting a full stretch of your hamstrings, which is essential to do before any physical activity. With the downward dog, you also stretch your lower back, build arm and shoulder strength as well as get a healthy rush of blood to the head.
I do this position throughout my day just to wake up and get a kick of energy after sitting at a desk for many hours.
Another yoga pamphlet staple which I am sure many have seen. Often I have looked at yoga position and gone, ok wow what’s the big deal anyone can do that. Ah, well I was so wrong. You think your balance and core strength is as good as it was in first grade, nope think again.
Many of these positions are super challenging and the Tree Pose is no different. This position is great to gain balance and work out the core. It also provides practice to center yourself and work at regaining balance when it is lost.
A lot of regaining your balance has to do with being aware of where your center point is and keeping your breathing calm, steady and regular.
This is the perfect practice before hitting the waves. It creates balance and maintains focus while warming the core up.
There are a few different warrior positions. Depending on your flexibility or your yoga level you can choose which one you feel most comfortable doing.
The warrior is a position of strength, hence the name. It focuses on maintaining balance in any type of situation.
Perhaps you have mastered the Tree Pose and you feel your balance is superb. Doing the warrior shows you how to balance when your center is in a different direction.
During the Warrior Pose, you will balance while your torso is turned to the left or right. This will give the torso a much-needed stretch as well as show you your ability to stay upright when twisted in different positions.
Again these look easy, try the position, hold it and breathe.
The Garland Pose is a brilliant hip opener. You may think, well surfing isn’t gymnastic what am I opening my hips for?
By stretching your inner thigh or hips you are getting your body ready to move more fluidly while you surf. Performing a hip opening position has great benefits for the lower abdomen, and back too.
Stretching your hips before you surf, will make sure you are ready to bail in any position without tearing a muscle.
The Garland pose combines opening your hips with some centering balance work. It works as the perfect warm-up for the lower half of the body and works those hips into ready position.
If you are a runner, then this is a great pose too. Running has a lot of compression impact on the hips which can affect you in other sports. Try the garland pose before and after our activities and you will feel a difference.
Upward Facing Dog
Finally, we have an upward facing dog, or we could call it the submerging surfer. Looking at this pose you can see why it is a good idea before you hit the waves.
Coming up from under a wave, or getting up to catch a wave this is the motion you make. Opening up your chest and giving a good full breadth stretch is what is important here. This pose also warms up your arms and pulls the muscles from chin to hip to make sure they’re ready for when you’re in the water.
Remember, most of the time you head into the ocean to surf, the water is cooler than the outside air. This means that when you get into the water your muscles immediately contract and stiffen up.
Imagine if you have not warmed them up before how tight and immobile your body would be compared to doing a few super cool yoga poses before your surf?
Yoga is hugely beneficial to your mind, body, and soul and now to your surfing too. Breathe in, breathe out and hit the waves.