There are so many parallels between yoga and surfing. The skills you learn and practice on the yoga mat translate to the surfboard across so many different levels. Through this next series of blogs we will start uncovering some of these parallels.
Today, our focus is on the core. The practice of yoga is super beneficial in stabilizing and strengthening the body’s core. The core extends far beyond the muscles of the abs, and having a strong core protects our spine and reduces our risk of injury. A stabilized core allows us to move with strength and speed in a safe and effective way. Having a strong core can also help our balance, which is a huge benefit for surfing.
A strong and stabilized core increases your chances of having an quick pop-up and a successful ride.
Here are 3 yoga postures you can practice to strengthen your core and improve your pop up speed and balance on the surf board:
Bridge Posture: Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Step 1: Lay supine on floor. Feet hip width apart so that you can graze your heels with your fingertips.
Step 2: Press feet and arms into the floor. Inhale and lift hips, firming the buttocks but not over squeezing. Lift buttocks until thighs are almost parallel to earth. Stack your knees over your heels. Engage your inner thighs muscles to keep the thighs and knees drawing towards each other maintaining hip width distance apart. Press into the feet to lift hips more, engaging the inner thigh muscles more to relax the buttock slightly.
Step 3: Lengthen sternum towards chin, chin slightly lifted from sternum. Walk one shoulder blade underneath the body at a time, interlock fingers and press hands into the earth. Open across the chest as you feel the length in the back of the neck.
Surf Specific Benefits: This one is not an obvious core strengthener but specific to surfing the benefits are huge! You are opening the chest and counteracting all of that forward rotation in the pectoral muscles from paddling. At the same time lengthening and strengthening your spine and opening the hip flexors (great for a fast pop up), while strengthening the glutes!!! This is a strengthening and healing posture when it comes to our surf specific muscles. Highly recommended!
* Hold for up to 30 seconds maintaining steady breath in and out through the nose.
Side Plank Posture: Vasisthasana
Step 1: From Downward Dog or Forward Plank shift onto the knife edge of the right foot. Bring the left hand onto the left hip and stack the right wrist slightly in front of the right shoulder. Root the right hand into the earth pressing through every knuckle mound to ease pressure on the wrist. Step the left foot back to meet the right, stacking the feet.
*If stacking the feet is too extreme, you can step the left foot to the centre line of the body, with the knee bent and the foot on the ground as kick stand.
Step 2: Open your hips, chest and gaze to the left side, extend the left arm to the sky. Gaze straightforward or gaze up towards the left hand.
Step 3: Hold with hips lifted, breathing steady. To increase intensity lift the left leg towards the sky. You can hold static or pulse. If pulsing, inhale to lift the left leg and exhale to slowly lower left leg until it hovers above the right. Move slowly with precision and control.
* Hold for 30 seconds. Rest. Take a forward facing plank for 30 seconds. Switch sides. Repeat 2 or 3 times on each side! Between each side take 30 seconds in forward plank.
Surf Specific Benefits: Strengthens the abdominals, the hips and improve overall sense of balance!
Baby Cobra: Bhujangasana
Step 1: Lay on your belly. Press the tops of your feet into the earth. Engage your thighs and feel your tailbone lengthening down towards the heels. Press your feet, thighs into the earth. Engaging the glutes and feeling the continued length from the tailbone towards the heels.
Step 2: Hands on the floor, stretch fingertips wide and root every knuckle mound into the earth. Hands underneath shoulders. Elbows close to the body. (Like grasshopper legs)!
Step 3: Use an inhale breath to slowly press into the palms, lifting the chest. Maintain firm contact with the lower body into the ground, feeling the spine long and tailbone lengthening towards heels as the chest lifts. Shoulders firming into the back body. In this baby cobra variation take a mini lift, gazing forward. (You are so lifted and engaged through the legs and core that you can hover your hands off of the mat for a moment).
* Hold for 15-30 seconds with steady breath through the nose. Slowly release. Repeat 2- 3 times and then take Child’s Posture.
Surf Specific Benefits: Strengthens the spine, abdominals and buttocks while opening through the chest and shoulders. This posture preps the body for a strong and stable paddling position and a solid foundation to start your pop-up from.
Remember to breathe through all of these postures using nose breathing. If you are not sure about your alignment head to a studio and ask your local yoga teacher some questions or come on a retreat and we will help you out!! Ultimately, the goal of these postures is gain some strength while creating opening. There is no need to push, force or achieve anything through these postures. Modifications are always available. Have a beautiful Tuesday and practice, practice, practice!