- Yoga complements surfing… building strength, flexibility and balance which are all important elements in the water.
- Learning how to control breathing might be the biggest benefit surfers will get from practicing yoga. Pretty sure there isn’t a pro-surfer out there who isn’t focused on proper breathing control.
- You can prevent injuries by indulging in a few stretching poses before paddling out to surf.
We’ve customized a photo list of yoga poses for surfers to practice regularly before or after surf. Before we drill down into our top yoga poses for surfers, please note that you should learn how to do these poses correctly with a qualified yoga instructor.
We’ve got this part covered for you if you join us in our beautiful beach paradise on a Namaste Ride.
Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog
Even if you’ve never done yoga, it’s highly likely that you’ve heard of the mother of all yoga poses… Downward Dog. Well, here’s the reason it’s a go-to pose for surfers. Dana Santas of Radius Yoga Conditioning, who’s worked with teams from the NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL and MLS, says that if athletes could pick just one yoga posture to perform, it should be Downward Dog. “I use this pose consistently in every one of my athlete’s warm-up programs, because it stretches, strengthens and stimulates the entire body. It also improves the flexibility of commonly tight lower-body muscles, helping to improve your range of motion and decreasing the chance of injury.”
Benefits of Downward Dog Pose:
- Stretches your shoulders, legs, and spine
- Strengthens your arms, legs and feet
- Helps relieve fatigue and rejuvenates the body
How To (Courtesy of YogaJournal):
- Begin on the floor on your hands and knees. Set your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly forward of your shoulders. Spread your palms, index fingers parallel or slightly turned out, and turn your toes under.
- Exhale and lift your knees away from the floor. At first keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis and press it lightly toward the pubis. Against this resistance, lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling, and from your inner ankles draw the inner legs up into the groins.
- Then with an exhalation, push your top thighs back and stretch your heels onto or down toward the floor. Straighten your knees but be sure not to lock them. Firm the outer thighs and roll the upper thighs inward slightly. Narrow the front of the pelvis.
- Firm the outer arms and press the bases of the index fingers actively into the floor. From these two points lift along your inner arms from the wrists to the tops of the shoulders. Firm your shoulder blades against your back, then widen them and draw them toward the tailbone. Keep the head between the upper arms; don’t let it hang.
- Adho Mukha Svanasana is one of the poses in the traditional Sun Salutation sequence. It’s also an excellent yoga asana all on its own. Stay in this pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes. Then bend your knees to the floor with an exhalation and rest in Child’s Pose.
Anjaneyasana – Low Lunge
The low lunge, or Anjaneyasana for the future yogis, tops our list. This pose helps address everyday lower-body soreness like tight quads or hips. It might look super simple, but there’s tons of upside to this pose:
Benefits of Low Lunge Pose
- Releases tension in the hips
- Stretches your hamstrings, quads and groin
- Helps build mental focus
- Start in Downward Dog. From there, exhale and step your right foot forward between your hands. Align knee over heel, then lower your left knee to the floor, placing the top of that foot on the floor.
- Slide the left leg back until you feel a comfortable stretch in the front thigh and groin. As you exhale, gradually take the lunge deeper by allowing the right knee to move slightly in front of the ankle.
- Now, inhale and lift your torso upright while sweeping your arms out to your sides and up overhead. Your arms should be straight and perpendicular to the floor. Engage your core and grow taller from your pelvis through the crown of your head. Keep your chin lifted slightly.
- Hold for 1 minute then exhale your torso down so you can place your hands on the floor on each side of your right foot. Turn your toes back under and, with another exhale, lift your left knee off of the floor and step back to Downward Dog.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana – One Legged King Pigeon Pose
The very act of surfing – which for the most part entails alternating between sitting on your board and riding it, i.e. being in a squat position – can lead to general hip tightness. Flexibility is key to taking your surfing to the next level. It’s required in all aspects… from your take off and drop in, to pumping and cutbacks… if your hips aren’t open you’ll know it. This is one of the deepest and most effective hip openers in yoga.
*So that you have something to aspire to… Nine-times world champion surfer Kelly Slater can touch the top of his head to his heels in King Pigeon Pose. Always great to have goals!
Benefits of One Legged King Pigeon Pose:
- Stretches your thighs, groin and psoa muscles
- Opens and releases the chest and shoulders
- Opens the hips
How To (Courtesy of YogaJournal):
- Begin on all fours, with your knees directly below your hips, and your hands slightly ahead of your shoulders. Slide your right knee forward to the back of your right wrist; at the same time angle your right shin under your torso and bring your right foot to the front of your left knee. The outside of your right shin will now rest on the floor. Slowly slide your left leg back, straightening the knee and descending the front of the thigh to the floor. Lower the outside of your right buttock to the floor. Position the right heel just in front of the left hip.
- The right knee can angle slightly to the right, outside the line of the hip. Look back at your left leg. It should extend straight out of the hip (and not be angled off to the left), and rotated slightly inwardly, so its midline presses against the floor. Exhale and lay your torso down on the inner right thigh for a few breaths. Stretch your arms forward.
- Then slide your hands back toward the front shin and push your fingertips firmly to the floor. Lift your torso away from the thigh. Lengthen the lower back by pressing your tailbone down and forward; at the same time, and lift your pubis toward the navel. Roll your left hip point toward the right heel, and lengthen the left front groin.
- Stay in this position for a minute. Then, with your hands back on the floor, carefully slide the left knee forward, then exhale and lift up and back into Downward Dog Pose. Take a few breaths, drop the knees to all-fours on another exhalation, and repeat with the legs reversed for the same length of time.
Jathara Parivrtti Variation – Twist Variations
You already know that Costa Rica is full of superfoods, but we just found out that yoga has “superposes” – I know it sounds fishy, but apparently the term has been recently adopted to describe certain yoga poses that boast some hefty “nutritional value” for our bodies. Read more about it here and then bust out this twist for some serious spinal stretching:
Benefits of Jathara Parivrtti Variation:
- Rotates the spine and lubricates discs
- Stretches the muscles of the lower back
- Builds strength and flexibility in spinal musculature
- Lie on your right side, with your shoulders and knees stacked. Draw your knees up towards the body to a 45 degree angle. Take your arms out to your right side at shoulder height with the palms pressed together.
- Inhale, lift left arm, reaching through the fingertips, and release it to the ground on your left side. Allow your head to follow. Try to have both shoulder blades on the ground. Exhale.
- Then extend your right leg, keeping the left knee bent over the right leg and hold it with your right hand. Inhale and extend your left arm directly up, releasing to the mat and lie the upper torso and shoulders equally on the mat.
- Take a few breaths in the pose, breathing and expanding into the ribcage. Repeat for your other side
Parivrtta Prasarita Padottanasana – Revolved Wide Legged Standing Forward Fold
Eoin Finn of Blissology Yoga is a yogi and surfer that has trained Olympians. We’re taking notes from this seasoned pro who points out that this pose helps with all carving and spinning maneuvers, lengthens and strengthens the internal and external oblique muscles while lengthening the hamstrings, calf and back muscles. No shortage of benefits here!
Benefits of Revolved Wide Legged Standing Forward Fold:
- Stretches your hamstrings, calves, and hips
- Strengthens your feet, ankles, and legs
- Lengthens and ease your neck muscles
- Begin by standing with the arms spread wide and the feet roughly under the palms. Bring the hands to the hips, inhale, and lengthen the spine.
- Exhale and fold at the hip joints. Bring the hands under the shoulders. Bring the right hand under the center of the chest. Inhale, then lengthen the spine again and exhale.
- Twist to the left and reach the left hand high. Try and keep the head and sacrum on the central axis so it feels like someone is pulling your left hand to the sky. Breathe long and deep, lengthening on inhales and twisting more on exhales for 30 seconds. Repeat, and enjoy on the other side.
Garudasana – Eagle Pose
Remember playing Twister.?.. Where you had to stretch in every way humanly (and non-humanly) possible while balancing in an unsteady position? Well, Eagle Pose is kind of like that.
For a surfer, Eagle is an excellent pose for improving concentration, balance and your sense of body in space – especially your feet. Awareness of body motions is critical in surfing, or you’ll be retrieving your board all day long. As you practice this pose, think about your perfect take off, popping up smoothly, getting your feet in the right spot effortlessly, transitioning through your turns, and adjusting your feet in a barrel. It will pay off!
Benefits of Eagle Pose:
- Loosens and strengthens ankles and hips, wrists and shoulders
- Releases tightness between shoulder blades and across sacrum
- Strengthens legs
How To (Courtesy of YogaJournal):
- Stand up tall. Bend your knees slightly, lift your left foot up and, balancing on your right foot, cross your left thigh over the right. Point your left toes toward the floor, press the foot back, and then hook the top of the foot behind the lower right calf. Balance on the right foot.
- Stretch your arms straight forward, parallel to the floor, and spread your scapulas wide across the back of your torso. Cross the arms in front of your torso so that the right arm is above the left, then bend your elbows. Snug the right elbow into the crook of the left, and raise the forearms perpendicular to the floor. The backs of your hands should be facing each other.
- Press the right hand to the right and the left hand to the left, so that the palms are now facing each other. The thumb of the right hand should pass in front of the little finger of the left. Now press the palms together (as much as is possible for you), lift your elbows up, and stretch the fingers toward the ceiling.
- Stay for 15 to 30 seconds, then unwind the legs and arms and stand in Tadasana again. Repeat for the same length of time with the arms and legs reversed.
Uttana Shishosana – Extended Puppy Pose
This puppy is pretty much a mini downward dog. The extended puppy pose is a mild forward bend and won’t present the same challenge as some of the previous poses. While this is a beginner pose, it’s still great at targeting your spine, stretching and strengthening it simultaneously. The extended puppy pose is the perfect pose when you need a stretch or if you’re feeling stressed out and fatigued, as it relieves built up tensions naturally.
Benefits of Extended Puppy Pose:
- Stretches and improves flexibility in the spine and shoulders
- Strengthens and stretches the arms, hips, and upper back
- Relieves tension and stress
How To (Courtesy of Yoga15.com)
- Come to all fours in the middle of your mat with your knees hip width apart and your hands directly underneath your shoulders. Walk your hands forward, press your hips half way back towards your heels and rest your forehead on the mat.
- Reach through your fingertips and draw your hips back to feel a nice long stretch in the arms, shoulders and spine. Stay in the pose for a few deep breaths.
- To come out of the pose, walk your hands back, sit back on your heels and come up to kneeling.
Ardha Matsyendrasana – Sitting Half Spinal Twist
Surfing is a full-body sport that combines strength, balance and flexibility. For this reasons we’ve included a lot of postures that bend the spinal column either backward or forward. But to really become flexible, we need to twist laterally. This pose is a favorite of Boyne, who has taught yoga professionally at Harvard and in Cambridge for 15 years, overseeing Men’s soccer and other sports. Boyne says, “Yoga can help athletes iron out [muscle] holding patterns. It matters, because muscles tensed in the body can lead to inefficiencies.” He notes that certain places are more vulnerable to injury: “if you can unlock tensions, you can open up the flow of energy.”
Benefits of Half Lord of the Fishes Pose:
- Tones and strengthens abs and oblique’s
- Stretches and energizes the spine
- Open the shoulders, neck, and hips
- Kneel down with your legs together, resting on your heels. Then sit to the right of your feet.
- Lift your left leg over your right, placing the foot against the outside of the right knee. Bring your right heel in close to your buttocks. Keep the spine erect.
- Stretch your arms out to the sides at shoulder level, and twist around to the left.
- Now bring the right arm down on the outside of the left knee and hold the left foot in the right hand, placing your left hand on the floor behind you. Exhaling, twist as far as possible to the left. Look over the left shoulder.
Special thanks to Heidi Michelle from Dragon Fly Yoga who spends November to April in Costa Rica doing retreats and yoga teach training certifications at Selva Armonia Retreat Center, SUP Yoga and giving classes at Danyasa studio. The rest of the year she travels and teaches around the world, check out her website to see if you can have a chance to practice with this amazing yogini. There’s really nothing the same as learning from a pro in person. Blogs on the internet can only assist so much so make time to check out a local class at Danyasa Studio and team up with Dominical Waverider to take your surfing to a new level. Pura Vida!