“Om dude” are not two words that you often hear together. But for surfers, the ancient tradition of yoga offers a host of benefits that can complement their love of the waves.
Whether you ride your board every day or once a year, you are familiar with the aches and pains that spending a few hours gliding on the rough and tumbling waves can bring to your body. But surfer-specific yoga moves provide relief to sore and banged up muscles while also improving surfing performance.
Here is what you need to know about yoga for surfers:
Yoga’s meditative focus is very similar to the concentration and sense of oneness that a surfer might feel as he or she gets in the zone of catching waves. Therefore surfers who adopt a yoga practice will be very much at home with this Indian mind-body practice. They may even find that the breath and posture control will enhance their mental acuity as they confront challenging rides in the water.
Yoga postures enhance flexibility and balance, both of which are essential for taking your surfing to the next level. In addition, yoga improves endurance and lung capacity, making your performance, whether you’re paddling your board or jumping to your feet, more powerful than ever before.
While any yoga postures can offer something to the surfer, here are a few notables:
Four-Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana): This arm balancing pose is very challenging, even for those with lots of upper body strength. But it is such an important pose for surfers because it helps stretch and open the shoulders while also enhancing their strength and engaging the core muscles of the abdominal wall. Start by coming into plank pose and then slowly bending your elbows as you keep them snug towards the sides of your body. Focus on pressing the index fingers into your mat, reaching your tailbone toward your pelvis and keeping the legs engaged by drawing up through the quadriceps muscles. Stay in this posture for a minimum of three breaths to start.
Boat Pose (Navasana): This balancing pose improves strength in the shoulders, back and core while also stretching the tight areas of the thigh and chest muscles. From a seated position, lift your legs and arms in the air so that your legs are at about a 45-degree angle and your arms are outstretched and parallel with your legs, fingers reaching towards your toes. Keep opening through the front of your chest as you breathe into tightness. Work to straighten your legs as you hold this posture for a minimum of five breaths.
Yoga should be practiced with as much lightness yet thoughtfulness as surfing waves. While there are only a few surfer-specific yoga classes offered, there are a small handful of yoga for surfer DVDs that you can experiment with. But since all yoga postures can enhance surfing performance, taking a yoga class with a qualified teacher is the best option for a safe and effective practice.