By yoga instructor Philly Lewis. Photos by Lizzie Churchill
If you surf, I’m sure you know by now how yoga can completely enhance your surfing, it seems that the pair now go hand in hand! And it’s not surprising, yoga focuses on body flexibility, strength and balance—the three main things you need when surfing. Each asana (pose) in yoga is opening a certain area of the body, whilst strengthening another, the perfect combination. The repetitive motion in surfing leads to the body getting super tight, particularly in the shoulders and hips, yoga helps to release this tension. It gives the body balance.
However, finding (ironically) the balance between the two is something we all struggle with. The last thing you want to do after a 2 hour surf is spend the next hour stretching, and who has that much free time anyway? Definitely not me… And if the waves are pumping, there’s no way your going to give up your surf time for yoga. We have to make the most of the waves! So here are 5 of my favourite poses every surfer should know, to do before or after a surf. The best thing about it? You can do them all in 10 minutes!
(Pose 1) Lizard with added quad stretch – Utthan Pristhasana
Lizard is one of my favourites for a juicy hip opener. It also targets the hip flexor’s which feels amazing after surfing. It opens the chest and prepares for deeper hip openers like Pigeon Pose (pose 5). Lengthens the spine and add in the quad stretch, it’s a winner!
Place the front foot on the outside of your mat, bend into the front knee and allow the knee to fall out to the side. Reach back with your hand to take a hold of your foot and draw towards your sit bones as your hips draw forward. Keep your heart towards the sky.
(Pose 2) Wide Legged Forward Bend – Prasarita Padottanasana C
A yummy forward fold with an added shoulder opener! This pose stretches the back and inside of the legs, opens the hips, stretches the spine, shoulders and chest. The added shoulder opener feels amazing, it reverses the constant forward pull of your shoulders from all that paddle movement. It also grounds you and calms the mind.
Step the legs wide apart, slightly pigeon toed, engage the thighs by drawing them up. Clasp the hands behind the back and fold forward over the legs. Squeeze the shoulder blades onto the back and allow the hands to fall to the floor.
(Pose 3) – Twisted Chair Pose – Parivrtta Utkatasana
Twists can feel amazing after a long surf, they can stretch and open the upper back, shoulders and chest area all in one go! They are great for relieving those paddle muscles. Twisted Chair Pose also strengthens the hip flexor muscles, the front of your thighs and adductor muscles of the inner thigh. Leg strength is key for generating speed on a wave and better balance when standing.
Bring the feet together and lower the hips as if you were sitting on an imaginary chair. Stack knees on top of the ankle and ancor the pelvis down. Keep the spine elongated and pelvis tucked in. Bring hands to the heart centre and twist placing elbow on the outside of thigh. Push the palms together to draw the heart and torso round. Make sure knees stay in line with one another.
(Pose 4) – Reverse Warrior – Viparita Virabhadrasana
Be a warrior! This pose has all the benefits of Warrior 2 with an added stretch of the side body, an area that can get seriously tight whilst paddling. It improves your balance, strengthen’s the legs, open’s the chest and wakes up your hips and groin area, perfect for all those pop up’s.
Place the front foot in between the hands, spin round on the back heel, make sure the front heel is aligned with the back foot, bend into the front knee. Reach to the back of your mat, rotate the heart up to the sky and stay strong through the legs.
(Pose 5) – Pigeon Pose – Eka Pada Kapotasana
As surfer’s we over use the hip rotators and they can become incredibly tight. This pose open’s the hips back up, elongates the back, stretches the deep glutes, groin and psoas muscle. It also relieves the piriformis muscle which can get tight just from sitting on our boards. Pigeon pose is an amazing one to completely relax in and get deep into the muscles. Open hips means we have a full range of motion and relieves pressure on the lower back.
Keeping the hips level, try and bring the lower leg parallel to the front of your mat. Keep the foot flexed to protect the knee, heart forward and breath into the hip opener. If the hips are low to the mat, exhale onto the forearms and maybe fold completely over the front leg. If your hips can’t stay level, use a yoga block to help.
Philly is running surf and yoga retreats with pro-surfer Alan Stokes. Their Wild & Free retreats offer boutique surf & yoga adventures with expert mentoring from two of the best in their field.
Follow Philly and to find out more about Wild and Free Retreats go to FB @wildandfreeretreats Instagram wildandfreeretreats