Whether your a pro, or just starting out, having a regular yoga practice alongside your surf can only improve and get your body performing to its best and putting it in shape for the next session!
Anyone who’s tried surfing knows that handling yourself out in the water is a massive physical challenge in itself. In order to move around in the water as best we can, as fast as we can, for as long as we can means using different parts of our body all in correspondence to one another. It calls for that upper arm strength and back muscles most of us didn’t even know we had. In order to keep that chest nice and high from the board when paddling means our whole core has to be engaged as not to compress our lumber (lower spine). We’re engaging our whole body down to the tips of our toes in order to get that correct posture on the board but without over straining unnecessarily. And if that didn’t seem like like enough we then have to be mentally ready to commit to a wave and bring ourselves up to standing! The more awareness we have to all these different elements coming into play in what seems to be a moment, the faster we can improve and that’s where the yoga element comes into play. Yoga breaks things down and creates the space for you to explore your relationship with your own body. It’s the combination of the physical Asana (postures) and the mental aspect which helps prepare you for those waves.
Behind the Physical Movement we have: Timing and Breath
Just how the bottom of the sea determines a wave, our breath will determine our physical performance. Out in the water timing is everything and in order to be in correlation with the rhythm of the ocean we need to bring it back to our anchoring breath. If the breaths off, minds off, bodies off and that’s bye-bye waves and hello white wash, wipe outs and exhaustion. When we practice yoga asana the thing thats actually guiding us in and through these postures is our breathing (pranayama) and it’s that same breath that helps us navigate ourselves in the water. Every session spent out in the water is an opportunity into understanding the behaviour of the sea. There are moments to act quickly and moments to slow down and preserve our energy. If we are truly present we begin to recognise these moments and the intellect of our bodies does the rest. The practice of pranayama is what trains our minds to be ready to react in the water.
Remember the sea is always stronger then you and if we can’t be in rhythm with it we’re going to miss those rides that make surfing worth it! Post Waves: Brining Back to Earth Being out in the water is intense in so many aspects. When your out there your mind is having to work very hard, constantly calculating and considering the actions of the water. Our bodies are pushed to they’re physical limits. Keeping up a constant paddle, pop ups, lying prone for long periods of time and not to mention the impact of falling and getting up repeatedly! Its important to reground ourselves. Recalibrate the mind back to earth, release any tensions accumulated and stretch out the muscles. Taking the time to breath into and release tightness.Restorative and Yin yoga are great for this purpose. In doing so we give our minds and bodies a balanced experience. Yoga asana, building mind and breath awareness, the surf and stretch means all round soul nurturing goodness!
As your love for surfing grows and you begin to spend more time in the water, you will find that it is also important to expand your time exercising your pranayama. Taking your practice into the studio or into your home can make all the difference. If you need some help finding the right kind of mat, you can check out this guide.
The Salt House Team