How to Surf Better – the Yoga Connection
There has been numerous talk of the correlation between yoga and surfing. But is it all just a bunch of malarky? How could downward dog possibly improve my performance in the water? Read on to find out how.
Relearning how to breathe.
Breathing, the most basic thing alive right? Well, not really. Most of us walk around breathing, but only just. A lot of us are chronic shallow breathers. We breathe into our mouth without properly filling our lungs. This seriously disadvantages us on both a physiological and mental level – we don’t even know what we are missing out on. The more oxygen we are getting to our blood and brain, the more clearly we can think and act. When we don’t breathe to our fullest extent, we are depriving our muscles of the nutrients they need to perform at their best. Yoga focusses on training us to breathe thoroughly to achieve both mental and physical awareness.
Stop thinking, start feeling.
Ever had one of those magical surfs where everything comes together? You don’t know why but you feel invincible. This is called a state of “flow” and this occurs through feeling our feelings, not thinking. Yoga focusses on quietening the mind so that the body can connect to its own areas of strength and weakness. By doing this, we learn what our bodies are trying to tell us and can react accordingly. In surfing, we are engaged with feeling. The power of the ocean and the speed of the waves gives us that “feeling” of thrill. How often does a manoeuvre feel good to complete? Learning to connect with how we are feeling in the ocean will lead to a higher chance of achieving “flow” – our ideal state to be in for increased pleasure and performance.
Flexibility for better performance and reduce injury.
Often in surfing our bodies are contorted into abstract positions. Our bodies are constantly being put under stress from all the physical activity we do as surfers. Keeping flexible allows our bodies to keep supple and prevent reaching a “breaking” point. Regular stretching and keeping flexible in the water will mean that that our technique can remain more fluid, especially on our backhand where are hips are required to be very loose. Flexibility of the back, neck and shoulders in particular allows us to complete manoeuvres that require full rotation, making for seamless and attractive surfing.
Not only does surfing have its physical benefits…
But it also provides a place where we as people can make space for ourselves. We can put down the emotional demands that we place on ourselves and have time to recuperate. If you have not reached your goals, if you are frustrated with your current place in life, or if you need a moment to quite the mind and enjoy the feeling of your body being attended to, yoga can assist you to enjoy the present moment. Remember, although it is good to work hard and achieve goals, it is also important to be kind to yourself and enjoy life along the way!
So get bendy, work hard, be kind and get yourself in the water!