"It's all about where your mind's at"
Although it might not seem like it at first but surfing and yoga have a lot in common. Both practices require a combination of strength, flexibility, balance, and focus. Many surfers draw on the techniques of Yoga to improve their performance and mindset in the water. Surfing isn’t just about catching waves, but also being in tune with your body and the ocean. Taking in mindful moment while waiting for a set to roll in, appreciating the natural beauty around you, the embodiment of courage as you take off on a wave and the complete elation as you ride down the line.
These moments, although simple, are hard-fought for because surfing isn’t as effortless as it looks! Learning to surf requires many years of dedication and commitment and it helps to have additional tools in the kit, like Yoga to help make your surfing feel more easeful and enjoyable.
Five yogic techniques that can help improve your surfing
1. Pranayama (breath work)
Breath control is an essential aspect of yoga, and it can be especially helpful during surfing to maintain a steady breath while navigating the waves. The one thing that is guaranteed in surfing are the wipe outs! By using yogic techniques you can learn to expand your lung capacity (ie hold your breath longer) to help you feel more confident underwater when duck diving and wiping out. There are simple yogic techniques that can help calm the mind and body, increase lung capacity, and improve oxygen flow. Pranayama can also be useful for managing anxiety or fear that may come up when paddling out, taking off on waves or being caught on the inside (getting trapped on the shoreward side of an incoming wave, or set).
See below for a short alternate nostril pranayama to help you get started.
2. Asana (physical postures)
Yoga asanas are the physical poses or flow of yoga. Asanas can help you build strength, increase flexibility, improve mobility and assist with balance - all of which are important for surfing. Our favourite poses to prepare for surfing are:
Warrior I: Strengthens the legs, core, and arms, and improves balance and stability. The step through into this pose also helps to prepare for popping up on your board.
Dolphin Pose: Great for your the arms, shoulders, and core, and stretches the hamstrings and calves.
Lizard lunge: Helps improve flexibility in the hips and quadriceps. It also stretches and strengthens glutes, hamstrings and releases tension in your back. Just like Warrior 1 pose, the step through to lizard lunge will help you cultivate a seamless pop-up as well.
Tree pose: Although you won’t be balancing on one leg in the water, tree pose is great for increasing focus and balance and creating a sense of connection to the Earth, which then flows into your connection to your surfboard and feeling grounded.
3. Dristi (focused gaze)
Dristi is an important element of yoga that can be useful for helping you focus while out in the waves. In yoga, dristi is used to improve concentration and achieve a meditative state, and this can translate into your surfing by choosing a specific point of focus, to help you stay present in the moment and avoid distractions. Dristi can also help you anticipate and react to changes in the ocean conditions by keeping a relaxed and focused gaze on where you are going when paddling out or catching a wave.
4. Svadhasyaya (Self-study)
Svadhasyaya is the fourth Niyama of the Yoga Sutras that is translated to ‘self-study’ or ‘self-reflection’. Using this ancient Yoga technique of reflection and learning can help cultivate a deeper understanding of your experiences in the water. Svadhasyaya can help you learn from mistakes and identify areas for improvement, improve performance and create a more mindful approach to catching waves. To practice self-reflection, take some time after each surfing session to reflect on your experience. Ask yourself questions like: What went well today? What challenges did I face, and how did I overcome them? What can I do better next time?
5. Dhyāna (meditation)
Meditation can help create mental clarity and calmness, increase body awareness, relieve stress, centre attention, sharpen concentration and cultivate gratitude. Surfing can also be a form of meditation, being out in nature, in sync with the rhythm of the ocean and the waves is a deeply spiritual experience for many. Regular meditation can help motivate you to surf, and remove blocks from your mindset, like fear, ego and negative self-talk. You can mediate when on land to practice or even take a brief moment while in the water to breathe and appreciate the experience. Have you ever closed your eyes between sets? Try it, and simply stay in the moment.
The ocean is believed to have healing properties for body and spirit, which is why we created our latest design, whether you are a surfer or just love the ocean we want to bring the soothing energy of the waves to you, where ever you may be. So, close your eyes, imagine the sand under your feet, taste the salt in the air and hear the waves lap against the shore as you step onto your ZONE Surfs Up Yoga mat.
Our Surf’s Up Yoga mat has surfboard guidelines to help you practice your pop-up, work on your alignment and feel connected to the Earth and the waves.