Yoga is a spiritual and grounding practice that aims to promote bodily health with breathing techniques and stretches that enhance your balance, flexibility, coordination, and strength.
All of these functions are key components of your surfing, and yoga for surfers is one of the best ways in which you can improve these facets when out of the water.
Professional surfers more often than not take yoga extremely seriously, an integrated aspect into their pro surfing fitness routine, but the good news for the average surfer is that you really don't need hour-long classes three times a week to practice this body art.
Yoga poses for surfers are rather simple and straightforward, and by doing them before and/or after a surf session or a workout, you not only ready your body for the strain to come to prevent injury, but also to help recover and re-ground yourself after a long session with these unique forms of surfing stretches.
So let's get into some of the best yoga poses for surfers and who you should incorporate this practice into your surfing fitness with the 12 best yoga poses for surfers.
Before hitting on some actual poses for you to practice, there are a few essential aspects about yoga that you must keep in mind before pursuing it.
When practicing yoga, you must be completely present in the moment. Don't let your mind wander into thinking about the waves or that air reverse you finally landed, and instead focus all of your attention on the feelings within your body and the present.
Just as you must force yourself below the wild whitewash in a duck dive, underneath the waves, and into the quiet calm, you must do the same for your mind so that it can maintain a sheer prowess in your mental approach to surfing.
By being grounded and focused in the moment when practicing yoga for surfing, this creates a zen-like state within your mind. One that, when you finally do paddle out, will stay with you and help you to navigate the ever-changing conditions and personalities of the waves we ride.
Breathing techniques are an integral part of any yoga routine and are especially important in terms of yoga for surfing. After all, our breath is technically our lifeline.
From ensuring that our lungs and cardiovascular system can run at all-time highs as we paddle to dealing with long hold-downs, breathing is everything.
And good news for us, better breathing is one of the most prominent benefits of yoga.
Not only do the breathing practices of yoga help to keep us calm and centered in the water, even when conditions become intimidating, as controlling your breath can also control your fear elements, but it also helps our muscles to exert the energy needed to throw buckets out the back by providing ample oxygen.
Simply breathe deep and into your core when executing any of these forms of surfing stretches, and breathe out through your belly with a long and controlled exhale when transitioning out of the stretch.
Now for the good stuff! A simple and easy to implement yoga routine for any time throughout the day, but that is especially beneficial before and after you surf or workout.
Extended mountain pose is such an amazing way to start out either a yoga or a surf session, as it allows you to take a few moments of breaths to appreciate both this low-intensity stretch and the moment you are living in.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms at the side in a standard mountain pose. Take a deep breath and slightly arch your back as you lift them up and above your head. Bring your hands together, extend your chest out, and hold before breathing out to bring your hands back to your side.
From extended mountain pose, you can further open your chest and stretch your arms and back with a standing side stretch.
Take one of your arms that are currently raised above your head and begin to bring it towards the side of your knee as you exhale. Keep the other arm extended and pointed outwards as you lean deep into the side of the arm that is now parallel with your leg, and hold this position, transition up and back into the extended mountain before stretching the other side.
After the mountain pose, stay standing and move into the eagle pose, one of the best yoga poses for surfers to target lower body strength and flexibility with balance.
Bend your knees and then balance on one foot. Take the opposite leg and swing your calf around so that one hip rests on the other, taking the top of the foot and hooking it onto the back of your balanced leg’s calf.
Then bring your arms and extend them in front of your body, wrapping them together with your fingers locked and pointed to the sky and hands now holding in this twisted position. One elbow should rest on the other arm's forearm and bicep crease, and switch sides when done.
If any yoga pose should act as a yoga pose for surfers, this should be the one, as it very similarly mimics your body position on a board while riding a wave.
Warrior II pose is all about opening up the hips and the groin, exactly what you need for quick and powerful turns.
Stand in a lunge position with your front foot pointed straight and knee bent 90 degrees. Extend your back leg outwards to straighten it, keeping this foot pointed to the right or left (depending on what leg). Extend your arms out to both sides and hold this position as you engage your hips and dip them to the ground as you breathe.
The downward-facing dog is one of the most popular yoga postures for a reason, and that's because downward dog is beneficial for your entire body. This yoga pose will lengthen your spine, and you will feel the stretch throughout your calves, hamstrings, and shoulders.
Place your feet on the back of a yoga mat or the sand, and plant your hands onto the ground. Gently lift your spine as you take a deep breath, sticking your butt into the air and trying your best to keep the soles of your feet against the ground to create an upside-down “V” with your body, and hold this position as long as you wish.
Cobra pose is a great pose to move into after downward dog and is an effective yoga pose for surfers to stretch out their chest, shoulders, and abs in a position that looks similar to our pop-up.
Laying on a mat, the sand, or even your surfboard, keep your toes pointed down as you use your palms to extend your back into an upwards arch, lifting your head into the sky as you breathe into this incredible stretch.
For a yoga posture with strength as its basis (great for pre-surf warm-ups), after your cobra pose, flatten your back so that it is parallel to the ground and use your forearms as your support to enter a plank position.
Breathe deeply and hold this pose for as long as you can for a subtle muscle warm-up and stretch that targets your core while also strengthening your arms and spine.
From the plank pose, you can effortlessly transition into the locust pose.
Laying on your stomach, keep your arms against your body (pointed towards your feet), and use your core to engage your body upwards as you lift your feet and head off the ground. You will immediately feel this stretch working your core and your lower back, so hold as long as possible.
An all-inclusive yoga posture, the boat pose does a ton. This pose strengthens your abdomen, improves your balance, and also provides a much-needed stretch to your spine, hips, and hamstrings.
Sit on your butt with your legs in front of you. Using your core, lift your legs up while keeping them straight, extending your arms out until your hands touch your knees, creating a “U” shape with your body.
If you need a little help in this pose, just use your hands to grab behind your legs to assist in holding them up.
Begin on all fours.
With wrists shoulder-width apart, slowly begin to walk your hands out in front of you. Once extended, as you exhale, push your butt up into the sky so that your legs form a 90-degree angle with the back of your knee and your thighs.
Bring your forehead down to the mat, extend your arms in front of you without letting your forearms touch the mat, and enjoy one of the best whole body surfing stretches of which you can do.
A child's pose is a great yoga pose for surfers to move into after the extended puppy pose.
From the puppy pose, sit back up on your knees and hold your thighs together. This time, lower your stomach down and onto the tops of your thighs, keeping your arms against your body with fingers pointed to your feet, exhaling as you lower your body down.
Feel this pose open your hips, and breathe deeply into them as you hold for as long as you like.
For another variation of a child's pose that will benefit your surfing, try an extended child's pose.
From standard child's pose, simply move your thighs a few inches apart, angling your knees slightly in opposite directions. Take your hands that were once by your side and extend them to now stretch far out in front of your head, and hold this position for a few breaths.
Yoga is extremely beneficial to your overall health and your surfing. But to reap these benefits, you have to practice it.
The more yoga you do the better, even if it's just small fifteen-minute windows throughout the day, and practicing these poses before you surf is one of the best ways to warm up, stretch, and prevent injury.
Use these poses as a baseline to learning yoga if yoga is new to you, and never stop taking the time to progress your practice, as there are more than just these 12 poses that will all make you feel and surf better.
We might be telling you this now, but soon you will discover this newfound feeling of bodily relief that yoga provides, and it will become something that you will crave almost as much as some crispy waves.
Okay, maybe not as much as waves, but it does feel good, so give it a shot before the next time you paddle out!