Yoga can benefit just about anyone who practices. Whether you’re a sales executive, stay at home mom, or sports enthusiast, yoga can offer you a wide variety of positive results. Maybe you’re looking for flexibility, strength, or greater mobility. Perhaps you need peace of mind, a de-stressed brain, or a technique that can help with anxiety. Yoga can help with all of these things. But what about the athlete? Are their benefits for this individual, too? Of course!
There are definitely benefits of yoga for athletes. But aren’t the athletic types already strong, active, flexible, and mobile? Yes, but yoga can refine those attributes and even provide more to this active person. Now, being an athlete is a broad category, let’s narrow it down to something more specific: how about you surfers out there!
Yoga for surfers can offer so much to this particular athlete. Let’s take a look at some of the skills related to surfing and how yoga can help in these areas.
As you know, balance is the key to surfing; being able to stay atop a 6-foot to 7-foot surfboard. With balance comes focus and concentration. This is where yoga can be quite helpful.
This yoga posture is a basic yoga position, but it allows the yogi to practice balancing on one foot as well as developing greater focus and concentration.
Stand tall with both feet rooted into the ground. Be sure there is an even distribution of weight between both feet. Stand with your arms down by your side and gazed forward.
Shift your weight into your right foot. Press firmly into the floor to activate your leg muscles. Lift your left foot while bending your knee. Swing your knee outward to point to the side of the room. Place your foot on the inside of your right leg. Extend your arms into the air.
Hold this pose for 10-20 breaths. As you hold the position, you’ll experience the muscles in your feet and around your ankles actively working to keep you balanced on one foot. Further, your leg muscles will also be fully engaged to hold you steady. Keep your gaze forward; focus on something out in front of you.
Take deep breaths in and out. Tree Pose taps into your ability to stay tuned into the moment. Oh, and don’t forget to do the pose on the other side!
It takes a lot of strength, particularly core strength, to be a good surfer. When you practice Tree Pose, not only do you improve your balance and concentration, you also improve your core strength. It takes a strong mid-section to help balance on one foot. Another great yoga pose for developing more core strength is Boat Pose.
Start this posture by sitting on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you. Lean back and lift your feet off the floor. You can bend your knees and hold onto your legs as you situate yourself into the posture. As you inhale, feel the lengthening in your spine and torso. As you exhale, engage your abdominal muscles. Keep breathing in this fashion.
While seated in this posture, your body forms the letter “V,” but it is ok to keep your knees bent as you practice this pose. To perform the full expression of Boat Pose, you would extend your arms straight up into the air and straighten your legs.
This is quite a challenge at first, but over time, you can develop the core strength to practice the full posture. In the meantime, you can modify the pose. As you hold still in this posture, you are building endurance strength; being able to hold yourself steady in a demanding pose.
You are conditioning your transverse abdominal region as well as the rectus abdominal muscle region of your core. Both of these sections are key to developing a strong centre.
Upper Body Strength
Not only do you need to have good balance and a strong core for surfing, but upper body strength is also needed. As you swim out, you need to be able to paddle your board out to the waves then hoist yourself up to standing.
There are many poses in yoga that can help with upper body strength. One in particular is Low Plank Pose.
Low Plank Pose (aka Chaturanga Dandasana or Four Limbed Staff Pose)
This yoga position is basically the lowering of the entire body as if you’re doing a push-up, but you hold that position for a few breaths. You can start the posture in a high plank position, the start of the push-up. Slowly bend your elbows to lower your straight body down toward the floor.
Before touching the ground, hold your position; you’ll be hovering over the floor on your toes and hands. To help hold your body in place, be sure to engage your core muscles. Further, roll your shoulders away from the ground, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and engage your upper back muscles.
See if you can stay still in this Low Plank position for a few breaths. Again, you build muscle endurance while holding a strong posture like this. It will also give your the upper body strength for improved swimming then pressing yourself up to stand on your surf board.
Being flexible and limber is important while surfing, too. If you’re too stiff, you’re more likely to fall off your board. If you’re more agile and flexible, you’ll be able to move in unison with the unpredictable surf. You have to be able to ride the energy of the waves. A simple yoga pose for gaining some flexibility in your legs and back is Seated Forward Fold.
Seated Forward Fold
Start this posture by sitting on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you. Flex your feet to engage your leg muscles. Inhale to raise your arms overhead. This will lengthen your torso. Next, exhale, engage your ab muscles, then hinge at the hips to fold over your straight legs. You will begin to feel a stretch quality in your legs. If you need to, you can put a slight bend in your knees if you want to fold further. Also, it’s ok if your back begins to round. You may notice a stretch and lengthening feeling in your back if you do. Hold this posture for 10-20 breaths before rising.
A full yoga practice will emphasise all these key factors in improving the skills needed to be a good surfer. But the mentioned individual postures are some examples of how you can target specific areas of the body.
If you’re looking for a particular yoga style that taps into these areas, you may want to try a Power Vinyasa Yoga Class. This simply means that during the practice, you will be in constant motion, putting yourself through a variety of postures that fluidly connect to one another. This style, too, will also enhance your physical endurance.
There are many benefits of yoga for any athlete. But if you’re looking to improve your surfing game, you will find that yoga will complement all your other training efforts.