Photo Cred: Brooke at Indie Yoga San Diego
JULY 30, 2014
BY TIFFANY BRODEN
If you ever step into a yoga class, the first practice you’ll start cultivating from within yourself is called Ujjayi breath, or ocean breath.
This breath, when done correctly, sounds like a powerful ocean crashing on the shore – with every inhale the ocean pulling back and every exhale the ocean waves washing up in the sand. It’s a slow, powerful breath that comes deep from within and can be directed to any muscle, cavity or organ in your body.
This breath is continued throughout the yoga practice and can give you the willpower to not give up and to push through even the toughest postures. If you continue to do yoga, you’ll find that this “ocean breath” can help in any aspect of your life. It’s meditative, calming and assuring that you’re strong enough to do anything you want – or take on any set that comes your way.
Yoga, like surfing, is a live-in-the-present mindset that takes focus, dedication and determination. That’s why yoga is one of the best cross-training choices you can make for surfing. While you’re strengthening some of the biggest muscles groups in your body, you’re also strengthening your focus. To get you started on your yoga path I’ve come up with some of my favorite postures to coexist with your surfing routine.
Postures for better balance on a surfboard
Sometimes getting the balance right on your board is a little tough. These poses can help you to become more aware of your body and how you should be distributing yourself on your surfboard.
1. Warrior III: This pose in Sanskrit is Virabhadrasana III, or fierce warrior. To get in this pose, stand at the back of your mat and raise your arms straight above your head with the palms facing towards each other. Next, take a two to three footstep forward with your right foot and using your core, tilt your upper body forward while lifting your left leg back. Make sure to keep your right standing leg as straight as possible and your left hip in line with your right hip. Your arms will be parallel to the ground, palms still facing each other.
2. Half Moon Pose: Or Utthia Trikonasana. From Warrior III, place your right fingertips to the mat while twisting your upper body to the sky, reaching your left hand up. Make sure to keep your left leg, spine and neck in a straight line. To challenge your balance further, lift your right hand off your mat.
Arm strengthening postures for paddling
Some days are better than others for catching good waves. But one thing for sure is no matter the surf – you’ll be doing a lot of paddling. These postures can help strengthen the muscles in your arm so you can become a better paddler.
3. Dolphin pose: This pose is a downward facing dog on your forearms. Lift your hips to the sky while pressing your heals to the floor and your chest to your thighs. To take this pose further, come into dolphin plank, or a forearm plank. Keep your torso parallel to the floor.
4. Four-Limbed Staff Pose: Or Chaturanga Dandasana. This pose is basically a low pushup, but with your elbows so close to your ribs they’re touching. Make sure to keep your body in a straight line, as if you were holding a plank. This pose is included in the Chaturanga flow, which starts at a plank, lowered to Four-Limbed Staff Pose, to Upward Facing Dog to Downward Facing Dog.
Spine flexibility poses for better pop-ups
In yoga, they say you’re as old as your spine feels. So it’s good to keep your back in a flexible condition, especially when you’re about to pop-up for the best wave of the day.
5. Cobra pose: This pose shares a lot of similarities of popping up on your surfboard. Start laying flat on your stomach. Put your arms like “grasshopper” arms by your chest. Lift up using your spine. You can take this pose further by separating your feet to the corners of your mat and lifting up your chest by pressing the ground away with straight arms.
6. Fish Pose: Or Matsyasana. Lie on your back and lift your pelvis off the floor. Put your hands under your butt and push your chest toward the sky and set the crown of your head to the floor. You’re spine will be inverted forward and you’ll be looking toward the back.
A long surf session can be exhausting and can leave you feeling a little sore and beat up. Recover for the next paddle out with the following postures.
7. Standing Forward Bend: Or Uttanasana. In this pose, you fold your chest to your thighs, bending your knees (or straightening them) as much as you need to keep your back straight. Let your head hang heavy and let your arms go wherever comfortable. It’s good for many reasons: It’s an inversion. Meaning that the blood flows a different way than it usually does, and it’s an amazing stretch for your lower back and legs.
8. Happy Baby Pose: Or Ananda Balasana. Lie on your back and lift your knees into your stomach. Grab your feet from either the outside or inside of your arches. Kick up with flat feet as you pull down gently. This is good for stretching out the hamstrings and hips from sitting on your surfboard.
Tiffany Broden is a resident of Seattle, WA who is always finding adventures in the Northwest. On the weekends you can usually find her in the mountains snowboarding or at the beach surfing. When she’s not on an epic adventure you can find her at home doing arts and crafts or yoga. She graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead in 2011 with a degree in Mass Communications with an emphasis in advertising. She is currently working for a material handling company doing in-house marketing.