Yoga For Surfers: Part Three
Stretching post surf is essential to keep the body supple and prevent the typical tightening and knots that can develop. Spend 5-10 minutes on at least some of the following poses after each session and you’ll notice that your body recovers much more quickly after a good surf instead of feeling so worked over.
You shouldn’t force yourself into any yoga pose, instead work slowly with the gentle softening of the body and listen to when it tells you to back off. Try to hold each pose for 5 slow breaths.
1. Wide Leg Forward Bend
Open the back of the legs from with a wide leg forward bend. Stand with legs hip width apart toes facing forward. Exhale and lower the chest toward the thighs, keeping the back straight and knees bent to start with.
For a deeper stretch, straighten the legs and reach the arms between the legs, try to lengthen both sides of the waist.
2. Standing forward bend – Utthita Uttanasana
A mild inversion to open the back of the legs all the way through the achilles, calves, hamstrings and glutes. Fold forward with bent or straight legs and a long spine. Feel the sides of the body lengthen and the neck stay soft. Remember to bend the knees and keep the back straight if the hammies are tight!
3. Triangle – Utthita Trikonasana
Start with legs apart, the toes of the front leg face away and the back foot parallel to the mat. Inhale to lift arms to the side and exhale to reach and extend to the side, folding the bottom arm down to the leg and the top arm to the sky.
4. Warrior I – Virabradhasana I
From Triangle, inhale to stand and turn the back foot out at 45 degrees. Draw the back hip forward to keep the hips square and keep weight in both feet. Inhale and reach the arms above the head and soften the shoulders away from the ears. Exhale to soften into the front bent knee keeping it over the ankle and facing forward.
Hold here or for more chest opening clasp hands or elbows behind the back and press the knuckles to the floor.
5. Crescent Lunge –Anjaneyasana variation
Turn the back toes under and hands on the hips in the standing position. Exhale to bend into the front knee at 90 degrees, knee over the ankle. Keep the back leg bent if the hamstrings are tight and only straighten it if you can keep the pelvis square to the front of your mat. Square the hips square and tuck your tailbone to keep the pelvis from tipping forward. To open the chest even more and counteract the paddling, reach your hands behind your back and clasp alternate elbows or interlace fingertips. With bent elbows to start, snuggle the shoulder blades together and press the knuckles to the floor.
6. Low lunge – Anjaneyasana
From Crescent Lunge lower the back knee to the floor and flatten the back of the foot to the floor (check you have enough padding under the knee). Lower your hands to the floor or blocks, front foot between your hands and directly below your knee. Inhale and lift your chest up and forward, press the shoulder blades in against the back. Keeping your hips square, draw the tailbone down toward the floor and gently press the belly toward the spine.
7. Pigeon – Eka pada raja kapotanasana
Pigeon pose will release tension from deep in the outer hip and glutes. From Low lunge, bend the front leg to the floor and tuck the heel in close to the groin. The front knee will point off to the side not straight ahead. Keep the front foot flexed to protect the knee. Slowly slide the left leg back, keeping it straight, back of the foot flat on the ground. Stay upright and reach up and forward with the chest and square the hips.
8. Seated Twist – Ardha Matseyendasana
Twists are so beneficial for the spine and are a great way to unwind after asking a lot from your back in the surf. Think about lengthening the spine as much as you can. Sit down with one leg folded so the heel rests near the groin, the other bent leg can place its flat foot beside the shin or cross it over to nestle against the other thigh. The opposite arm either holds onto the top leg or the elbow crosses to the outside of the knee to deepen the twist. Press down firmly through both sit bones and the flat foot before exhaling into the twist. Repeat the above sequence on the other side.
9. Chest opener
Counteract the use of the shoulders by opening them up in this delicious front of body stretch. Sit with hand behind you and fingers facing forward. Bend the elbows if you need to as you puff out the chest and squeeze the shoulder blades together.
10. Puppy Pose
Surfers need to open their upper back and the following 3 poses will have you feeling good From hands and knees, walk the hands forward until hips are over the knees, soften the chest and rest the forehead on the ground.
11. Thread the Needle
From Puppy pose, walk the hands back in towards the chest, exhale to thread one arm underneath the body and rest the shoulder on the ground, palm facing up. Use the other hand to stabilise and press both shoulder blades together.
12. Child’s Pose – Balasana
Find comfort for the spine as you relax into child’s pose. From Thread the Needle, spread the knees out wider and release the bottom down over the heels. Let the chest soften and rest the forehead on the ground.