Yoga for Surfers?
Updated: Oct 26
5 Reasons Why Yoga Will Help to Improve your Surfing
The connection between Yoga and Surf may not seem all that clear from the start but practicing both is highly beneficial. When taking a deeper dive into them, it’s easy to see how the two different activities align - like perfect waves and a beautiful sunset!
Some of many clichés Yogis are confronted with are „Yoga is for girls only“, „for those on a spiritual journey/self-discovering trip“, „only for flexible people“ or "not much of a workout"...
When some of our surf buddies were finally convinced to give it a try - I mean, after suffering from sleepless nights with shoulder and back pain - it turned out that some were running out of breath, touching the toes with the hands seemed as far away as the top of the Atlas mountain and balancing out in dancers pose is definitely not for girls only.
So what makes yoga and surf a dream team then? And why shouldn't get surfers past a yoga routine?
Let’s have a closer look at the 5 top benefits of a surf-yoga combo.
One of the reasons why many people flock to yoga is because it increases flexibility when practiced regularly. So even if you are not natural flexible, it is more important than ever to start. Stretching reduces stiffness, releases tight tissue and therefore leading to a lower risk for getting injured during your surf session.
Just the „simple“ movement of a pop-up and different surf maneuvers like turns and cutbacks require extreme hip flexibility.
Especially hips can become tight when overtraining them by extensive surfing or even underusing them by simply sitting too much in our daily life - in the office or on another netflix-marathon. These passive movements shorten the hip flexors and can lead to lower back pain and a decreased hip mobility.
By stretching your hip flexors - the muscles that connect the top of the thighs with the pelvis and lower back - your range of motion for turns will increase and therefore keep your hips and lower back happy.
Including these asanas into your yoga practice will lengthen and strengthen
your hip flexors:
Other poses that stretch out the hip flexors:
Upper body mobility
Apart from the hips, also your shoulders, chest and upper back are suffering from the inactive movements or overtraining.
Sitting at your desk in quite a stationary posture for several hours per day can lead to rounding of your shoulders which will cause pain in your neck and upper back.
While paddling, shoulders tend to go inwards which makes it important to include chest openers and shoulder stretches after each surf session or/and in a regular yoga practice.
Release tension on your shoulders and chest with these amazing poses:
Other poses that keep your upper body flexible:
Puppy dog pose (Melting heart)
Having strength is essential to your surf performance. Most of the time surfers are fighting against the ocean waves, paddling out and popping up on the board - basically a full body workout.
Many of the yoga asanas (yoga poses) in energizing/strenghtening yoga styles like Vinyasa and Astanga Yoga help targeting the full body - strengthening the core, arms, shoulders and lower back muscles — all of which are used when surfing.
Strong, powerful arms are key to making the most out of your surf as you can go for more surf sessions before feeling "that your arms fall off". Therefore a strong focus should be on toning your arm muscles to gain paddling power, which you will need to enjoy your surf session to the fullest: for paddling out, maneuvering on your board and speeding up before the pop-up.
Don’t have time for a proper yoga session every day? Even just doing a few rounds of Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar A and B) daily will energize you and build up your arm, leg and back muscles.
A proper breathing practice not just helps to maintain focus for a longer period of time and stay more conscious in the present moment, it also fills up your body with nourishing oxygen and releases stress and muscle tension.
In Yoga practice Pranayama or yogic breathing is one of the 8 limbs of yoga. Without mindful breathing, asanas would be just a physical exercise.
In the 3 Part-Yogic-Breath exercise you practice to slowly inhale through your nose into upper chest, ribcage and belly and release the air again step by step reverse up to the chest. By filling up your lungs with air completely, you train to expand your chest and rips which help you to breath more effortlessly.
A full inhalation increases your oxygen supply, which fuels your muscles and improves their strength and endurance, essential for paddling.
Especially for big wave surfers it is highly recommended to implement breathing exercises like holding the breath into the workout. Being able to control the breath while being under water during a wipeout can safe you from panicking and eventually losing control over an unexpected situation.
Check out this video to guide you through a class of 3-Part-breath-exercise:
Many poses in yoga challenge you to keep your balance. If you’re able to master balance, you’ll find that it brings together strength (see #2), focus (see #5) and breath (see #3).
Especially for beginner surfers it can be difficult to balance out the board on the water. In case you don’t have the sea next to you, there is plenty of asanas to prepare you for your next surf trip.
Check out this quick 7 Min. Video of "Better Balance Yoga" to improve balance for your surfing.
Being mindful and present in the activities you do, can make you forget about the stressful everyday life, enjoying every moment and reconnecting with nature, the ocean and yourself.
Meditation is an important part in every yoga practice and strengthens the ability to be mindful and present in the moment. In order to catch a wave you must align the mind, breath and body to paddle and popping-up at the right time and riding that wave until the very end.
Also with other surfers out there and around you and the unpredictable ocean you need to stay focused - for your own and your surf buddies safety.
But which yoga posture can help you with focus?
Eagle pose is one of the best yoga poses for gaining focus and balance.
Upper back, shoulders, thighs and hips get stretched out, but also deltoid and trapeze muscles, which you’ll use when paddling, will get deeply engaged.
Eagle pose is most helpful in keeping you focused while surfing. It’s easy to become frustrated with your environment, especially when the waves aren’t in your favor, or you’re a beginner. This will help counter those negative thoughts.
As we have read yoga and surfing is just a dream team, yin and yang, black and white and complementing each other perfectly.
If the 5 benefits did not convince you to implement yoga into your workout and you still struggle to tell your friends that you are into yoga, just call it "stretching".
Now it is time to get those muscles moving in every direction. YALAH! Let's go.
You'd like to combine surfing and daily yoga classes on your next surf holiday to Taghazout, Morocco? Check out our surf & yoga holiday package.