Do yoga and surfing go hand in hand?
Words by Sarah Grant.
Photography by Abbi Hughes. Lighting by Gina Goodman.
Obviously the best thing you can do to improve your surfing is to surf more. However, regular stretching and exercise will always help you. Surfing involves every muscle in your body, so when you are a little stiff in places, practices like yoga can limber you up again and keep you at the top of your game in flexibility, core strength as well as improving your mental wellbeing.
Here are some cool tips from yoga instructor Sarah Grant explaining her top postures that you can try out in the comfort of your home.
Tips on how to get into and out of positions and the benefits of each posture:
Yoga classes will often start with a salute to the sun so I thought what better way for surfers to get into yoga than a variation of Sun Salutation B. It is a short sequence which you can repeat in a cycle containing super postures which are perfect for surfers! Here’s how you do it:
1. At the start of each yoga practice it is important to take a moment to focus internally, set your intention and concentrate on the breath so my first yoga posture Samastitthi or ‘Equal Standing’.
This posture will give you the perfect start to a yoga routine, it is not a passive posture of simply standing straight it is the opportunity to zip up, grow tall and engage your physical body with focus.
Do you checks from the ground up!
* Stand with your feet together and spread your toes feeling the connection of the earth
* Straight legs with soft knees keeping the body strong but fluid like the sea
* Tuck the tail bone under slightly and engage your core bringing your navel to spine
* Bring your hands to the centre of your chest in prayer position with your fingers spread wide like sunbeams
* Roll your shoulders up and back dropping them away from your ears
* Ensure your chin is parallel to the ground and imagine yourself growing tall shining the very top of your head up to the sky
* Finally, now you are in correct alignment breathe in & out through the nose focusing on deepening the breath and take a moment just for you before you hit the surf.
2. Inhale and raise your arms up then on an exhale fold forward, try not to round your back and let you hands drop to the floor.
This posture is called ‘Uttanasana’ or simply ‘Forward Fold’ and provides a lovely lengthening of the spine, try engaging your core and see if you can notice how much that helps you to maybe fold a little bit further on an exhale!
3. Bending your knees and letting your palms become flat on the ground take a step (or a jump if you want to) back so you are in ‘Chataranga Dandasana’ or ‘Plank Pose’
Make sure that your shoulders are above your wrists and that your torso has not sunken down towards the ground. You are aiming for a nice straight ‘plank-like’ line from the heels all the way up to the top of the neck. This posture is magic for building strength in your abdomen, legs and spine and concentration!
4. On an exhale lower your body down to the ground making sure your elbow are tucked in and then inhale to raise the chest up to the sky sending the gaze with it as you do.
Exhale and push back to a ‘Downward Facing Dog’ a posture that is exactly what it says on the tin. A perfect pose for strengthening the arms, legs and torso as well as energizing the body.
5. The last posture of this sun salutation variation – before stepping through to finish (or re-start!) on Equal Standing – is Warrior 1. The Warrior asanas are popular for surfers, being a very strong posture, I like to call them my ‘I mean business’ postures. From Down Dog turn your left foot out and step through with your right foot in between your hands. Just like surfing, getting into your pop up position! With control bend into that front leg and raise the arms up to prayer position above your head. This is warrior 1. To come out of the posture bring your hands back down either side of your front foot, step back and repeat to the other side.
To end this simple sequence you can step both feet through to in between those hands or maybe take a little hop through with both feet together for a more challenging ‘re-set’.
Raise up with an inhale back to Equal Standing.
Salute those suns and enjoy the surf!
We would always advise you to join a class as doing yoga as a group activity can have a better response for your body and mind.
If you liked Sarah’s tips you can join her Yoga Class in Newquay at Oceanflow Yoga Studio, please visit her page for more information and its all for charity!