21Jun Connecting Yoga & Surfing: Physical Connection
Surfing and yoga are both physically demanding activities. After a long surf session, a person feels fatigued and their muscles are sore, but one still has a feeling of overall relaxation and calmness. This experience is similar to a rigorous yoga session when a person feels their muscles have been lengthened, and stress has been released from their body. These are two very similar physical effects after practicing yoga, and after a great surf session.
Some of the physical training modalities to improve ones surfing abilities are flexibility, strength, endurance, balance and mental focus. It just happens to be the physical benefits of yoga are to increase overall flexibility (ROM), muscular strength, endurance, balance, and mental focus.
Increased Flexibility & Muscular Strength: During a well-rounded yoga practice, a person creates length and openness in their shoulders, neck, back, and hips. These are all primary body parts which need to be flexible for surfing. Flexibility not only improves ones surfing, it also decreases the risk of injury to keep you in the water for the next great swell. Along with flexibility, strength is important and many yoga poses increase ones strength within the shoulders and legs. A good example is in Warrior 1, 2 and 3 since it increases your leg and shoulder strength which improves your paddling and wave carving abilities.
Increased Endurance: A person needs to have endurance to be able to surf for an extended period of time without getting tired. By practicing yoga and pranayama (breathing exercise), a person can increase their V02 max (maximum amount of oxygen utilized for energy). By allowing the body to sufficiently use more oxygen, the intake increase turns into more energy and increases one’s endurance. When a person stays in a yoga pose for an extended amount of time, it increases their muscular endurance as well. While practicing Warrior 2, try sinking a little bit lower into the hips, and hold for 2-3 more breaths than usual. This creates an increase in a person’s overall endurance level. As a result, you will be able to surf longer and with more energy.
Increased Balance & Mental Focus: Balance plays a key role in a person’s surfing ability: being able to glide across the water and not fall, is mainly influenced by the ability to balance. In yoga, there are many balancing postures to increase a person’s overall stability. Along with balance, mental focus is an important part of surfing. Being able to pull into a barrel and make it out, takes mental focus and timing. Just as one practices yoga, you have mental focus from the point you enter the pose, while in the pose, and then as you make your way out the pose, a person is mentally focused and are in the present moment. While in a balanced yoga pose, a person concentrates on their drishti (gaze or focus point) which helps to improve both mental focus and balance both in and out of the water.
By incorporating yoga into a person’s workout routine, it will greatly improve the five most important physical aspects that are associated with improving a persons surfing abilities. Flexibility, Strength, Balance, Mental Focus, and Endurance.
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