Want to surf like a pro?
Ok, so I can’t claim yoga will make that happen but I can say it will make it a little more likely. From your paddle form to your snaps, yoga can help in numerous ways.
For a start yoga is strengthening. Yes, really. This does depend on the style but just about any Vinyasa, Iyengar or Ashtanga class will build all-over body strength. The poses make the body move in so any different ways that every part benefits. Particularly core and all the little muscles we need active for great balance… kind of important for surfing.
As well as strengthening all of our stabiliser muscles, yoga trains the nervous and fascial systems. This improves our body awareness, proprioception and coordination, all of which contribute to excellent balance. Our balance is also much better is we are completely present in the moment, and yep you guessed it, yoga has it covered. Mindfulness teachings train the mind to stay on task and focussed, super important when performing in a constantly changing environment.
The deep breathing practice, Pranyama, improves breathing patterns. We engage proper breathing techniques to really utilise the lung capacity and control the breath. We start to utilise the diaphragm for deeper breathing with less effort. Breath retention techniques begin to train the body for long breath holds when required in hold down situations. The poses also open the body for better breathing. Yoga poses encourage space through not just the chest, but the back and Psoas which also contribute to breathing efficiency.
The meditative aspect of a yoga practice teaches us to be calm in more stressful, challenging or painful situations. If we can sit in a tough pose and slow the breath, and find some peace in it, we can better handle other tough situations.
Finally, what is an article on yoga without mentioning flexibility and mobility? If you want to make your manoeuvring easier, from popping up to squatting low for teeny barrels, you want flexibility. Explosive cut backs are easier with better rotation through the spine, a bigger range to wind up and tension in the fascia will give a much more powerful move when you release the twist. Flexibility also helps to prevent injuries. We’ve all had one foot slip and found ourselves unintentionally doing the splits, or we’ve been tumbled and twisted while the leg rope pulls one leg the other way. If we’re flexible we bend and go with it, if not we break.
Surfing and yoga really are a perfect match. If you’re still not convinced, ask the pros if they include it in their training. Everybody’s doing it, maybe it’s time you did too.