Updated: Jun 16
Surfing is a discipline that requires hard work and practice and can be hard on our bodies over time. It doesn't matter if you have surfed only once or you are a seasoned shredder. We all know just how physical of a sport surfing can be. Over time, we can feel our bodies tighten-up, and close-off in specific areas, especially our lower backs, chest and hips.
Of course, the best way to practice surfing, is to surf. But another amazing way of improving your flexibility and reducing the risk of long term injury is yoga. In general, the biggest problems with surfing anatomy are a closed chest and the compression in the lumbar spine because of the paddling position. Tight hip flexors can also be a common problem because of the movements involved with more advanced surfing. Yoga has the ability to help with all of these potential issues and with the help of our own Yoga Instructor at Surf Cascais we have put together a list of 5 basic yoga poses that are bound to keep you on the right track in the water.
Twist Yoga poses release tension in the lower back, which very commonly build up in a surfer’s body. By stretching the back muscles, realigning and lengthening the spine and hydrating the spinal disks this pose will help to keep your back in great surfing condition.
Lying on your back, bring your arms out to the sides with the palms facing down in a T position. Bend the right knee and place the right foot on the left knee.
Exhale drop the right knee over to the left side of your body, twisting the spine and low back. Look at the right finger tips.
Keep the shoulders flat to the floor, close the eyes, and relax into the posture. Let gravity pull the knee down, so you do not have to use any effort in this posture.
Breathe and hold for 6-10 breaths.
To release: inhale and roll the hips back to the floor and exhale the leg back down to the floor.
Repeat on other side.
This is another pose that will help with your lower back and flexibility in the spine. The Paschimottanasana covers a whole lot of systems in the body and is also particularly useful for other health issues, such as high blood pressure.
Breathe out and bring your arms down placing the palms on the ground.
After the exertion limit reached inhale and raise up stretching up your arms straight above your head.
Stay in this position as long as possible.
If possible hold of your toes and pull on them to help you go forward.
Place your hands on your legs, wherever they reach, without putting much effort.
Slowly breathe out and bend forward from the hip joint, chin moving toward the toes keeping the spine erect.
Breathing in, slowly raise your both the arms straight above your head and stretch up.
Bring your respiration to normal.
Keep the spine erect and toes flexed towards you.
Sit up with the legs stretched out straight in front of you on the floor.
Also known as Tree Pose, this position will help with two fundamental elements of your surfing, balance and focus. This pose requires the practitioner to stand on one leg with the other leg bent so the foot rests on the inside of the thigh, hence helping you to practice focusing on being steady and balanced.
Stand with 2 inches feet apart.
Focus on a point in front. While exhaling, bend the right leg and place the foot on the inside of the left thigh. The heel should be touching the perineum.
Inhale and extend the arms up and join the palms together.
In this position continue deep breathing pulling in the tummy muscles and expanding the spine upwards with every exhalation.
Stay here as long as you can focusing on one point.
Slowly exhaling bring the arms down and then the right foot down to rest.
Continue this with the other foot.
Adho Mukha Svanasana
This is a famous pose that even the non-yogis among us will at least have heard of. Otherwise known as "Downward Facing Dog", the beginner pose is an excellent way to open the shoulders and extend the spine. This pose also helps strengthen our legs, which is another important area of the body that we shouldn't forget about as athletes.
Come onto all fours. Form a table such that your back forms the table top and your hands and feet from the legs of the table.
As your breath out lift the hips up, straightening the knees and elbows, form an inverted V-shape with the body.
Hands are shoulder width apart, feet are hip width apart and parallel to each other. Toes point straight ahead.
Press your hands into the ground. Widen through the shoulder blades. Keep the neck lengthened by touching the ears to the inner arms.
Hold the downward dog pose and take long deep breaths. Look towards the navel.
Exhale. Bend the knees, return to table pose. Relax.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
The Pidgeon pose is one more pose that can help a wide variety of surfing muscles. This pose helps to stretch the hips, groin and psoas muscles. This pose is also very beneficial for those hip flexors, which is a part of the body that can be very easily neglected.
From downward facing dog, bring the right leg up into a down dog split.
Bend your right knee and bring that leg forward as if you were going to step into a lunge. Instead of placing your food down as you would for a lunge, bring your right knee to the floor on the outside of your right hand.
Release your left knee to your mat. The front of your left leg is as flat on the floor as possible.
Square your hips towards the front of your mat.
Take padding (a folded blanket works well) under the right side of your butt as necessary to make the pose more comfortable.
With these five poses we hope you can keep fit and stay surfing as much as possible. They can be practised daily, before and after surfing and even on flat days. Of course, it's always advised to go and take actual classes for even more insight into yoga.
You can also come and see how Surf and Yoga go hand in hand at our villa. You can take a look at our Surf and Yoga camp packages on our website. You can also follow us on Instagram and Facebook to get a taste of daily surf and yoga life in Cascais.