Since moving to the west coast, surfing has played a (large?) role in my life. What we do on the weekends (tofino, tofino. tofino), where we travel to (“is there an ocean?” “is there surf?”), when we travel (winter storms = best waves). I’ve written about surfing and yoga poses I do here and recently, lessons from learning to surf here.
Whether you’re paddling into or just want a stronger core, yoga is a great tool to help increase flexibility, balance, core strength and gain awareness. A strong core (more on that HERE!) is the perfect starting point for surfing, and yoga teaches us to be present, remain calm and to return to our breath again and again no matter what the outside circumstances.
Goddess pose with eagle arms pose
Step three feet apart. Turn your toes out 45 degrees and spin your heels in. On an exhale, bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Make sure your knees are over the center of your foot. Raise your arms straight ahead to shoulder height, palms facing one another. Cross your right arm on top of the left and bend and hook your elbows. The backs of your hand reach for one another or wrap around your wrists. On an inhale, lift your forearms up a few inches and, on an exhale, reach the forearms away from you, spreading your shoulders on your back. Engage your core by drawing your navel in and up. Inhale, straighten the legs a few inches, exhale, sit deeper as the hips lower toward thigh height. Pulse with breath a few times then slowly free the arms and straighten the legs. Repeat on the other side.
Warrior 2 to side angle pose
Step your feet wide apart and raise your arms up to shoulder height. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees and turn your left foot perpendicular to the right. Inhale, engage your core and exhale bend into the right knee. Your knee should track over the center of your foot. Ground the outer edge of your back foot up the entire leg Bring your right forearm to your thigh and stretch and reach your left arm up to the sky. Lengthen the sides of your body while turning the underbelly of your waist and chest up to the sky. Breathe into the sides of the body and the entire length of your spine. Repeat on the left side.
Plank gains strength and stability in your core and shoulders (building power for your pop-ups!). Start on hands and knees, placing your hands directly under your shoulders, spread your fingers apart, grounding all four corners of your palms. Tuck your toes under and lift up behind your knees to straighten your legs. Hips and shoulders should be at the same height. Draw your abdominal wall up to support the entire length of your spine. Your tailbone lengthens in the direction of your heels as your pubic bone moves toward your navel and your navel extends toward your heart. Keep your neck long and breathe.
Heart chakra pose
Start on hands and knees and walk your arms forward, lowering your chest and forehead toward the ground. Keep your hips right above your knees. Press into the palms, lift the forearms up off the ground and melt the back of the heart.
Lie on your belly and place your hands under your shoulders. Lengthen your buttocks toward your heels and extend and reach through your legs and spread your toes. Press the pelvis down and lift your hands, chest and feet off the ground. Lift with the whole of the spine and keep the legs active and strong. Keep space in your lower back (no compressing or jamming!).
Cristi Christensen, co-founder of Yoga Surf Camp, a 180-minute workshop that combines beachfront yoga with surf lessons at Exhale Center for Sacred Movement in Venice, Calif.