26 April, 2017 26 April, 2017

Yoga Poses For Surfing Superpowers

Whether you’re a young hot shot dropping the wallet in heats or a surfer past your prime (and feeling it) – yoga has proved to be highly beneficial for our kind. You don’t have to light incense and chant to feel the benefits of yoga, even a few simple poses can improve your strength and flexibility for surfing. Elly Whittaker, a Hatha yoga instructor from England, shared seven yoga poses with us to stretch out those sore shoulders, build core strength and get you ready for whatever the sea throws at you. 

  • Breath in and out through your nose throughout your yoga practice.
  • All images by: Arianna Germini

1) Seated twist (or Ardha Matsyendrasana):

Why do it?

Twists build stability and flexibility in the spine and put you in a calm state of mind. If you do no other yoga pose, take a good long twist everyday.

How to do it

  1. Start in a seated position with a straight spine with your legs out in front of you, bend your right knee and place it over your left leg.
  2. Turn over your right shoulder and place your right hand on the ground directly behind you.
  3. Inhale and stretch up your left hand, as you exhale use your core strength to turn your upper body to the right and look behind you.
  4. Finally, rest your left elbow on the outside of your right knee, hold the pose for up to 2 minutes.
  5. As you inhale, lengthen your spine upwards and as you exhale, twist a little deeper. Repeat the pose on the left side (always do asymmetrical poses on both sides).


2) Half locust pose (Ardha Salabhasana):

Why do it?

This pose is builds core and lower back strength, which are vital for surfing (and daily life).

How to do it

  1. Start lying down on your belly with your head raised and your hands resting on your lower back, palms facing upwards.
  2. Sweep your right arm forward and raise your left leg off the floor at the same time.
  3. Hold for 5 steady breaths.
  4. Lower your arms and legs back to the starting position and rest your left cheek on the floor.
  5. Then sweep your left arm in front of you and raise your right leg, hold for 5 breaths, then relax resting your right cheek on the ground.
  6. Repeat on each side 5 times.


3) Standing forward fold (Uttanasana):

Why do it?

This is a simple classic, it will help to stretch out your hips, hamstrings and calves and relieve tension in the neck and back.

How to do it

  1. Stand with your feet slightly apart, make sure your knees are soft (i.e. your legs are not completely straight).
  2. Fold forward from the hips and bring your fingers towards the ground. Let your head hang down. You can clasp each elbow and swing gently from side to side.
  3. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to a minute.
  4. For a deeper stretch, place your hands underneath your feet, palms facing up.


4) Gate pose (Parighasana):


Why do it?

Lateral poses are a great way to stretch the shoulders and the side body after a tough paddle session. This pose will also stretch your leg muscles to make popping up that little bit easier.

How to do it

  1. Start in a high knees position (not sitting back on your ankles), straighten your right leg out to your side and balance your weight evenly between your left knee and right foot.
  2. Rest your right hand on your right leg and slowly bend to your right side, using your lower back and core muscles to support your upper body.
  3. If it feels comfortable, stretch your left hand overhead to the right side. Don’t push yourself too far, stability is more important than flexibility.


5) Wide leg forward fold (Prasarita Padottonasana):

Why do it?

Stretches the legs, back and neck. Forward folds are the ultimate poses for soothing and grounding because they activate the part of the nervous system which stimulates deep rest and healing.

How to do it

  1. Stand with your legs wide apart (if you hold your arms out to your sides, your ankles should be underneath your wrists).
  2. Fold forward from your hips, aiming to bring the crown of your head towards the floor. Bring your hands to rest on your legs or the ground.
  3. For a deep shoulder stretch, clasp your hands behind your back and let them hang over your head.


6) Anjaneya’s pose (Anjaneyasana):

Why do it?

This is a strong backbend, so make sure you have warmed up with some of the earlier poses before you attempt this one. Backbends move energy into the chest and heart area which has an energising effect, making this is a good pose to do ahead of a big surf session.

How to do it

  1. Start in a high knees position, put your right foot forward and sink your hips towards the ground. Only sink forward as far as is comfortable.
  2. Reach your arms up and look upwards, this will create a strong bend in the lower back, lift your chest forwards and up to relieve some of the pressure on the back.
  3. Breathe deeply and hold the pose for 5 to 10 breaths, then repeat on the other side.


7) Child’s pose (Balasana):

Why do it?

This is great stretch for the back, shoulders, neck and hips, and as a forward fold it has a calming effect on the body. This is a great pose to recuperate at the end of the day or as a gentle warm up before a surf session.

How to do it?

  1. Start on all fours with your knees spread wide, sit back on your ankles and bring your chest to the ground.
  2. Let your forehead rest on the floor and reach your arms out in front of you.
  3. For a side-body stretch, walk your hands to the left-hand side and hold for 5 breaths, then move to the right side and hold.
  4. If the pose is uncomfortable for your legs, place a folded blanket on top of your ankles.
  5. Let gravity do most of the work for you, your hips will sink to the ground over time. Hold the pose for up to 2 minutes, or longer if you want to. 

Emotional and physiological stress show up as resistance when we practice yoga, the best way to release this tension is to hold the poses for around 90 seconds and work through the resistance in the body, but if you every feel pain, which is usually a short, sharp sensation, then you should ease off.

Elly Whittaker is a Hatha yoga instructor from England who is currently teaching yoga in Jeffrey’s Bay. She studied yoga at The Practice Bali, you can find her on Instagram as @ellywhittaker.

1 Comment

  1. Pretzel
    26 April, 2017 at 2:22 pm · Reply

    Only have to look at Slater at 45 and understand what Pilates and yoga can do for you .Machado and Gerry Lopez are also pro smow zen yoga masters.

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