Gone are the days when I’d roll out of bed, grab my board, head to the beach, and jump straight into the surf…
If you’re over the age of sixteen—or just want to improve your surfing for that matter—you should spend at least ten minutes waking up your body with yoga. Surfing requires active muscles and fluid movements, so get loose before you get in. Here’s what I do before hitting the surf….
Okay—this is really a series of postures, but sun salutations are a great way to stretch your entire body, raise your heart rate, and get your blood flowing. Upward Dog or cobra improves the flexibility of your spine for the long paddle out. And Downward Dog stretches your shoulders and hamstrings, allowing you a relaxed surfing stance. Start in a standing position. Inhale and lift your arms over your head; exhale and sweep down into a forward fold. With your hands on the ground or on blocks, inhale and lift your chest; then exhale and step or jump (if you’re feeling like a rock star) into plank position. Take a breath in plank, then inhale and lower your chest to the ground. Exhale. Inhale and, straightening your arms, melt your heart through to cobra or upward facing dog. Breathe. Inhale and push your hips up and back into downward facing dog. Stay in dog for five breaths, stretching your shoulders and the backs of your legs. Next, inhale and step or jump your feet between your hands, coming into a forward fold. Exhale. Inhale and, rooting your feet firmly into the ground, lift your arms to the sky to come back to a standing position. Repeat this sequence at least three times.
Pigeon pose is one of the best stretches for hip flexibility. Yet, the name is a misnomer because I’ve never seen pigeons actually do it. Start in downward facing dog, and then bring your right knee to your right hand and your right foot towards your left hand. I aim to place my shin at a forty-five Degree angle to my thigh. But if you’re a “flexy lexy,” then go for ninety. Bring your butt down to the ground, while keeping your hips square to the front. Hold, and then repeat on the other side. Opening your hips in Pigeon everyday will not only improve your surfing, but it will also make you feel like Shakira on the dance floor.
3. The Surf Activator
The “surf activator” (I actually coined the phrase) turns your body into a well-oiled pop up machine…sort of. First, step your feet three to four feet apart from each other, keeping them parallel, with your heels on the ground. Slowly bend one knee at a time, dropping your butt as if you were sitting back in a chair. Listen to your body, go slow, and don’t push it. This is an intense hip and groin opener.
4. Yoga Crab on a Stability Ball
Paddling requires an arched back and lifted shoulders, which—let’s be honest—is not the easiest and most comfortable posture to maintain. This stretch will help you open your chest and shoulders, create space between your spinal vertebrae, and decompress your neck. By moving your feet slightly, you can target different areas in your back. People who work at a desk or computer will especially benefit from this stretch.