Surfing requires a lot of paddling. Your shoulders and your back are constantly active, rotating forward. Wave after wave, after wave. Sometimes you have to paddle against currents, crowds or close-outs. No wonder your muscles get sore!
Here are some yoga poses to stretch and release deep muscle tension. Hold the poses for a longer time (1-2 mins) so you release tension in the muscle fascia and joints.
These poses are also great for non-surfers and people who work behind desks or with computers (so basically everybody).
Note: If you have any injuries, consult your physician first.
1. Spinal Twist
Benefits & Precautions: Improves rotation in the spine and can be combined with a shoulder and hamstring stretch. If you feel any pressure on your eyes or your ears during the pose, come out of it and take a step back.
- Come onto hands and knees (knees under hips, hands under shoulders).
- Exhale, take your right arm and slide it under your left, coming on your right shoulder.
- Gently press your left hand into the floor, so you feel a little twist in your spine.
- Stay here for a couple of breaths.
- Then, come into the next pose (see picture below) by:
- Taking your left toes with your right hand. Keep the knee bent, or extend the leg (hamstring stretch).
- Now, stay here, or inhale and open your chest and your left shoulder by externally rotating your left arm.
- See what feels comfortable and stay there for 10 breaths.
- Exhale, release your leg, and inhale come back onto all fours.
- Repeat to the other side.
2. Extended Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana)
Benefits & Precautions: Excellent for stretching the spine and shoulders. If you have any knee problems, use a pillow or a blanket under your knees.
- Come onto all fours.
- Exhale, walk your hands forward and drop your forehead (or your chin) to the floor.
- Keep the arms active and so the elbows don’t touch the floor.
- A little curve in the lower back, stretch through your arms and pull a bit back through your hips to lengthen the spine.
- Stay here for about 10 breaths.
- Exhale, sink down on your heels.
3. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
Benefits & Precautions: Stretches the front of your body, your abdomen and chest, and strengthens your upper back muscles. Believed to be beneficial for depression. Avoid if you have any spinal injuries, if you’re pregnant or if you have weak abdominal muscles.
- Lie on your mat, face down with your arms next to your body, palms up.
- Exhale, activate your core, bend both knees and take hold of the ankles.
- Inhale into the chest with a sense of expansion, raise your chest and press your ankles into your hands.
- Press your shoulder blades against your back to open your heart, but keep the top of your shoulders away from your ears.
- Keep the knees in line with the hips if possible.
- Stay here for 10 breaths.
- Exhale and lower to the floor. Relax your shoulders, release your ankles and lie quietly for a couple of breaths.
4. Extended Side angle pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana)
Benefits & Precautions: Stretches the shoulders, latissimus dorsi (“swimmer’s muscle” in your back), chest, waist, spine, and increases stamina. Also releases tension in hips. You can do this pose sitting down (e.g. cross legged) if you prefer. Be careful with high blood pressure, spinal or ankle, knee or hip injuries.
- Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose).
- Step the feet approx. leg width apart.
- Have the outside edges of your feet parallel to the short edges of your mat.
- Turn your right foot out, aligning it with the arch or heel of your left foot.
- Hips are pointing forward (towards the long edge of your mat).
- Inhale your arms up.
- Exhale your arms to shoulder height, bending your right knee (don’t let the knee extend past your ankle). Look over your right shoulder.
- Inhale, reach your right arm forward and place it gently on your right thigh (no pressure, keep your core activated).
- Exhale, extend your left arm up.
- Keep your head in line with your spine (“smell your armpit”). Inhale and stretch.
- Press the outer edge of your left foot firmly into the floor to activate your left leg.
- Stay here for about 10 breaths.
- Inhale your arms back up to centre.
- Exhale and step back into Tadasana.
- Repeat to the other side.
5. LORD OF THE FISHES (ARDHA MATSYENDRASANA)
Benefits & Precautions: Improves rotation in the hip joints and in the spine. Believed to relieve fatigue. Avoid during pregnancy, in case of hernia or spinal injuries.
- Sit on your mat.
- Bend your left knee, and place your left foot close to your right buttock.
- Take your right foot and place it on the floor outside your left knee.
- Make sure both of your sit bones are connected to the floor (if not, keep your foot outside the shin instead of the knee). You can also keep your left leg straight if you experience pain in the knee.
- Inhale, extend your arms towards the ceiling, lengthening your spine.
- Exhale, rotate gently to the right, from the belly up. Let your core do the work, and let your head follow.
- Place your left elbow on your right knee.
- Take your right hand and place it behind your back, supporting your extended spine.
- Inhale (don’t force it), lengthen your spine a bit more.
- Exhale see if you can twist a bit further.
- Stay there for 5 breaths and repeat step 9 & 10.
- Inhale and unwind from the twist, letting your belly come back first, followed by your head.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
6. Reclined Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
Benefits & Precautions: Releases tension in spine, massages and stretches shoulder, internal organs, glutes, improves digestion. Avoid with spinal injuries.
- Start in Savasana (lie on your back on your mat)
- Bend your right leg, hook your right toes under your left knee
- Exhale, gently guide your right knee toward the floor (to the left). Make sure both of your shoulders stay connected to the mat (don’t let your knee come all the way down if your right shoulder comes up).
- Inhale, look to the right and stretch your right arm, try to see where the stretch feels best.
- Stay here for about 10 breaths, allowing gravity to drop your knee closer to the floor.
- Inhale, come back up.
- Exhale, repeat to the other side.
- When you’re ready, hug your knees into your chest for a couple of breaths.
- Exhale, extend your legs slowly along the floor.
Feel good all day!
What’s your favorite post surf/work yoga stretch?