The secret to being able to surf with as much looseness and freedom as a super-stoked grommet is simple – it’s called YOGA... A surfers best friend...
I know, I know… if you are a surfer, there may be a voice way back in the back of your brain that says, "I’m just too tight to do that yoga stuff."
What a shame. If you hear some kind of rendition of those words in your internal dialogue then do yourself a favour and silence it. You're missing out on the most intelligent activity that any surfer can do. Surfing without doing yoga is like being trapped in a 5 mm wetsuit. Surfing after you have yoga in your life is like ripping in tropical water in just your boardshorts. No crust. No thick restictive layer holding you back. Man, you will be bionic. Loose. Powerful. Free. Capable of the snappiest turns. Possessing the focus of a Samuri warrior in the most extreme conditions. It’s magic.
One of the main places that we can loose our flexibility quickly is in the shoulders. Doing the following 10 minutes of shoulder openers will not only increase your paddling power, but also extend the lease on your body. Remember – it’s just ten minutes. Enjoy.
Download this routine on MP3 audio
1 – Da Pose: One arm front body stretch:
» Why: Stretches primarily the pectoral, deltoids and biceps on one side.
Hold one minute and repeat on the next side.
- Hold onto on to a pole with your left arm (the side of your car, a tree, a wall, etc. all work equally well.)
- Now lean your weight away from the pole.
- Be specific with your alignment. To really isolate the pecs and biceps, move the left side of the body forward and the right side of the body back, so your shoulders stay square.
- Also, try and stand as upright as possible with the pelvis in neutral (not tilted forward or back too much)
2 – Da Pose: Two arm front body stretch:
» Why: Streches both the pectoral, deltoids and biceps on both sides simultaneously.
Breathe deeply for one minute.
- Hold a towel, or a strap, or a t-shirt with both arms. Choose a width that is comfortable for you.
- Slowly draw the towel over your head, so the arms are behind your back.
- The body will want to find the path of least resistance by tilting the rib cage backwards. This is because the pecs attach to the ribs. Shorten (contract) the abdominal muscles that attach from the pelvis to the rib cage to bring your front ribs down in the direction of your pelvis. In other words, don’t arch your back.
3 – Da Pose: Half Moon – side body stretch.
» Why: This stretches the side of the body especially the oblique muscles (which help you twist in surfing), the lats and seratus anterior muscles (which help generate the pulling power when you paddle)
Relax and breathe for one minute and repeat on the next side.
- Press both feet down the ground, spread through the toes to really root the feet.
- Let the right hand hold the left wrist.
- On an inhalation, reach upwards first through the hands in order to get the body and spine as long as possible.
- Exhale, reach the arms to the right as you press the hips left . Look up and under the left biceps muscle
- Don’t "shrug" your shoulders. As you reach through the arms, draw the shoulder blades down the back so you do not create tension in the traps.
- Stay aligned. The right shoulder rolls under, the left shoulder rolls back. The Right side of the pelvis presses forward and the arms reach behind you slightly.
The next three stretches can be done in standing, seated or in a kneeling position.
4 – Da Pose: Eagle pose
» Why: This stretches the back body – Romboids and Trapezius muscles, which hold the shoulder blades in place during paddling.
Breathe into the opening for 45 seconds and repeat on the next side.
- Wrap the arms around each other by bringing the right arm under the left. Ideally the palms will touch.
- Optimally, the elbows, the nose and the palms will be in the same line
- Lift the hands up and away from you, so you feel a widening in the shoulder blades. This should feel sweet since they normally contract during paddling.
5 – Da Pose: Deltoid/Rotator Cuff stretch – arm adduction
» Why: streches shoulders and deltoids
Breathe into this juicy one for 45 sends and repeat on the next side.
- Bring the left arm across the body and reach the left arm to the right.
- Bend the right arm and press the inner right arm (elbow crease) into the left elbow.
- Reach the right arm towards the right ear
- Straighten through the left arm and slightly press it against the right arm.
- Make the arm as long as possible by subtly moving it in two directions – as you reach the left hand right, move the left shoulder left.
6 – Gomukasana
Gomukasana level 2
6 – Gomukasana
Gomukasana level 1 (modified)
» Why: Stretches deltoids, triceps and chest
- Draw the left hand behind the back towards the shoulder blade. Palm faces out.
- Reach the right hand skyward and turn the palm towards you.
- Bend the right arm and clasp hands. Clasping hands may not happen if you have logged up a lot of paddling hours in your life, so if you need to, hold a towel with your right hand, dangle it towards the left hand and then clasp. Don’t worry, your body will open more in time.
- Lift (press) the right elbow up and again take any excess arching out of the lower back by bring the lower front ribs towards the upper front pelvis.
7 – Da Pose: Forward Bend.
Keep the back straight and flex at the hip joints. Using straight arms and pressing the hands down can increase the ease of the pelvis tilting forward. I worked like this for years and years before holding my feet
Rounding the back may make you feel like you are going further into the pose because your head is closer to your feet. However this creates a lot of pressure on the disks and vertebrae of the lower back.
It doesn't allow you to effectively lengthen the hamstrings, calf muscles or lower back.
» Why: Because we are constantly shorting the back body the lift the chest as we paddle (extension), we can tend to lose our forward bending ability (‘flex’-ability).
- Start in seated with the knees slightly bent.
- Keep the back straight.
- Start to straighten the legs while subtly pressing the heels down gathering the inner thighs in.
- Feel the crown of the head lifting away from the bottom of the pelvis so that the back stays straight (as per photos above)
- Breathe and be patient while the hammies open up.
Eoin Finn teaches yoga in Vancouver most days and in Tofino on Wednesday Nights.
He will be teaching a Yoga for Surfing Workshop in Tofino BC Fri Aug 27th.
find out more at http://www.vancouveryoga.com/