Whether you’re an expert surfer or just getting your feet wet in the surf, yoga is one of the best ways to keep your body loose and agile for the waves.
Surfing does wondrous things to the body and mind, but it can also come with tightening and pressure on the back, shoulders, and hips. “My back and neck always feel great after surfing,” said no surfer, ever.
This Yoga For Surfers tutorial will take you through 21 yoga poses that focus on lengthening and releasing pressure in the spine, stretching all those surfing muscles, and opening the chest, shoulders, and hips.
We worked with one of our favorite yoga teachers back home to create a sequence of yoga poses specifically for surfers. Julia Sparkman has been teaching yoga for the better part of the past five years and last summer, she tried surfing for the first time… She describes learning how to surf as “a very humbling experience.” (Yep, been there!)
Right away, Julia realized that swimming in the ocean and being on a surfboard required her to use muscles she didn’t use on a regular basis. At the studio, Julia told me that yoga was saving her from surfing soreness and it was keeping her limber. Wunderbar! A Yoga For Surfers collaboration was born!
Below, Julia shares a pre- and post-surf yoga flow that will take your surfing stretches to a new level. Watch and follow along with the video below, or scroll through for photos and descriptions of a simple flow and additional poses.
If you’re an experienced yogi, you’re probably familiar with many of these poses. And if you’re new to yoga, no worries! The poses are suitable for beginners… just consider these souped up surfing stretches 🙂 . Vamos!
• Yoga For Surfers •
• Pre-Surf Yoga Poses •
Before you jump in the water, it is essential to warm and open your body — specifically the hips and the shoulders. These poses do not require a mat, simply have a towel or t-shirt ready for when you lay your forehead down in Child’s Pose.
To begin, rest in Child’s Pose:
Guide your big toes to touch, spread your knees as wide as comfortable.
Crawl your hands forward and rest your ears between your relaxed arms.
Notice how the back of my heart is lifted in this photo. Allow yourself to soften your shoulders away from your ears and melt your heart towards the earth.
From Child’s Pose, press yourself into Tabletop, rise onto all fours. Inhale and lift your right hand towards the sky. Exhale, Thread the Needle. Pull your right arm through and rest your right cheek on the earth.
Place your hand in a way that allows you to breathe and create space across your collarbones. Stay for at least a few rounds of breath.
As you’re ready, press yourself back to Tabletop. Once you’re stable, inhale your left hand to the sky. Exhale, Thread the Needle. Notice if there is something you need to shift on this side and work to match the duration to that of the right side to keep your body balanced.
Once your left side feels complete, press back into Tabletop. Take a deep breath in, exhale Downward Facing Dog:
Use the strength of your belly to lift your hips towards the sky. Press weight evenly across your palms and guide your heart back towards your legs. Take as deep of a bend in your knees as necessary.
To build heat, shift back and forth from Down Dog to High Plank 3-5x
On your last High Plank, hold for a few rounds of breath. Then, slowly lower down to your belly.
Press into the toenail side of your feet so much your knees lift of the earth. Release all of your breath. Inhale, Cobra Pose. Lift your chest of the earth using the strength of your lower belly.
Lower back to the earth and repeat 3x. On the last one, press into High Plank, then move back into Downward Dog.
Once you’re feeling warm, move through a few rounds of Sun Salutation A:
Step into a Forward Fold at the top of your mat. Inhale Halfway Lift, guide your palms to your shins. Exhale, Forward Fold.
Inhale, Mountain Pose.
Exhale, Forward Fold.
From here, you can either move through Inhale Halfway Lift, Exhale Fold, Inhale Mountain Pose as many times as your body feels it needs. Or, you can take a Chaturanga Dandasana in between.
Chaturanga Dandasana starts after Forward Fold… Inhale, Halfway Lift. Exhale, Chaturanga Dandasana… Move from high plank to mid-plank:
From mid-plank, inhale, Upward-Facing Dog:
Engage your legs and belly. Exhale, Downward Dog.
To integrate Chaturanga Dandasana into Sun Salutation A, from Down Dog, step back to the top of your mat and flow through Mountain Pose. When you fold from Mountain Pose, take Chaturanga Dandasana after your Halfway Lift.
After you’ve practiced a Sun Salutation Flow, here are some recommended balancing postures to try on before you surf:
Keep your knee over your ankle and engage your full body as you breathe. Repeat on Left and Right sides.
Extended Side Angle
From Warrior 2, hinge forward and rest your forearm on your thigh to create space through your inner thigh and side bodies. Shift weight to the knife edge of your back foot and rotate your bottom ribs to your top hand. After Warrior 2, move into:
Point your knees in the direction of your big toes. Guide your belly up and in. As you sink low, lift through the crown of your head.
Wrap your right leg up over your left, wrap your right arm under your left. You can kick stand your toe to the earth and give yourself a hug to release pressure from the bind. Once you’re in a shape that works for you, be short in your legs and tall in your spine.
• Post-Surf Yoga Poses •
After you surf, start standing and move through a few rounds of Sun Salutation A without Chaturanga Dandasana.
Step back to Downward Dog. Inhale, lift your Right/Left leg to the sky. Exhale, Low Lunge, step your photo between your hands. Drop your back leg to the earth, inhale, Kneeling Crescent Lunge
Keep your front knee over your ankle. Squeeze your things to the midline of your body and pull your navel in. After a few rounds of breath, inhale your hands to heart center. Exhale, Modified Crescent Twist.
First towards your right (left elbow outside of right leg), then to your left (right elbow outside of left leg).
Keep your core engaged. As you inhale, extend from the crown of your head, as you exhale, pull your ribs to the sky.
To release, bring your hands to the inside of your foot onto the earth for Runner’s Lunge.
Walk your foot forward so your ankle moves in front of your knee. If you are tight, you may want to grab something to rest your hands on. To get more of a stretch, move to your forearms.
Do Kneeling Crescent, Modified Crescent Twist, and Runner’s Lunge on the Right. Then, press back to Downward Dog and repeat on the left.
Once your body has loosened up, here are some recommended stretches:
Grab a towel with you right hand, inhale your right hand to the sky. As you exhale, drop your right hand towards the back of your heart and reach up with your left hand to grab the dangling towel. Release, roll out your shoulders and repeat on the left.
Stack your right ankle on top of your left knee, hold and breath. Then, switch sides.
From Down Dog, inhale, lift your left into the sky. Exhale, Half Pigeon. Bring your knee as close as you can behind your wrist. Either stay lifted or lower down. Repeat on the other side.
Four a restorative hip opener, lay down on your back with your feet on the earth hip width distance apart. Place your ankle on opposite knee. Breath and repeat.
Finish with your favorite twist…
Lay down on your back, lift your knees to stack over your hips, drop both knees to the left and breath. Come back to center and lower knees to the right.
Extend your left leg long, inhale your right knee in towards your armpit. Exhale, Supine Twist. Guide your knee to the left, breath and relax towards to earth as you use your breath and belly strength to twist. No need to get your knee or both shoulders to the earth, worry about keep your breath. Repeat on left side.
At the end, be sure to take a moment to sit and appreciate how fortunate you are to have a healthy body to surf and practice yoga.
Thanks a million to Julia for creating and sharing her Yoga For Surfers poses!
***Wardrobe by Vuori Clothing