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Yoga and surfing have a natural partnership.

THEY ARE WAYS OF LIFE–disciplines that, with time, help you combat fear, breathe deeper, and achieve the kind of bliss that only riding a wave or pressing into your first headstand can provide.

The physical benefits of yoga also complement the flexibility and power needed to have maximum fun and prevent injuries when surfing.  Below are six poses that will make your arms and back stronger, help you avoid the nagging lower back pain so common in surfers, and maybe help you look hotter in a bathing suit too.

(Note: The images do not necessarily correlate with the yoga poses listed. Click on the hyperlinks for how-to videos by experts.)

1.  Garudasana or Eagle Pose (arms only).

Benefits:  Stretches upper back and shoulders.  Essential before and after long paddling sessions, especially on windy days.

How:  After extending your arms in front of you, cross your right arm above your left in front of your torso, bend your elbows, and rest the right elbow into the left’s crook.  With your forearms perpendicular to the floor, press your palms together, and continue to lift your elbows to feel more of the stretch.  Switch sides after 15-30 seconds.

2. Malasana or Squat / Garland Pose.

Benefits:  Opens up the hip flexors and strengthens the back.  Great to prevent hip cramping when sitting with spread legs for a while.  Also, try this with Eagle arms (above).

How:  Separate your feet wide enough that you can squat comfortably between them.  If this hurts your knees, support your seat with a bolster, and if your heels come off the ground, place a rolled up towel beneath them.  Placing your hands in prayer, press your elbows into your thighs to open your chest and hips.   Hold for 60 seconds.

Bow by: SuperFantastic

3.  Chaturanga Dandasana or Four-Limbed Staff Pose.

Benefits:  Core, triceps, core, back, core.  Your pop-ups will improve like nobody’s business.

How:  From a plank position with your wrists lined up with your chest, lower your body to a hover over the floor while keeping your back flat, your elbows hugging your sides and engaging your abdominals.  Hold the hover for 10-30 seconds, and repeat from plank pose.

4.  Shalabhasana or Locust Pose.

Benefits:  Strengthens the spinal and gluteal muscles, backs of arms and legs; Stretches shoulders and chest.  Non-aggressive back bends help to build the spinal support for all the back-arching surfers do when paddling for waves and looking behind them.

How:  Lie on your belly, and place palms on floor next to your chest.  Without gripping your buttock muscles, lift your head, upper torso, and legs off the floor on an inhale.  Use your hands as gentle support (not to push your torso up) so that your weight is on your lower ribs, belly and pelvis.  Reach through your legs to not crunch your lower back and hold for 10-30 seconds.  Repeat two to three times.

5.  Navasana or Boat Pose.

Benefits:  Strengthens core; Stretches back muscles.  While good for overall strength, this pose will help with deep breathing and focus.

How:  Sitting up, use your hands to center your weight between your sit-bones and tailbone.  Place your hands right behind your seat to open your chest and flatten your back.  Engaging your core muscles, lift your feet off the ground.  Keeping your chest open, work toward straight legs before lifting your hands off the ground and reaching your fingers towards your feet.  Hold for 20-30 seconds.  Repeat two to three times.

Yoga on Beach by: Frerieke

6.  Balasana or Happy Baby Pose (with an added twist).

Benefits:  Releases tight hips and back muscles.  Yes, you will look silly doing this in public.  But half of yoga is to turn your focus inward, so forget about the bros who give you a hard time and breathe.

How:  Lie on your back, bend your knees towards your torso, lift your feet off the ground and grab them.  Open your knees wider than your torso, and try to push your tailbone towards the ground while moving your knees towards your armpits.  Hold for 60 seconds.  For the twist, release your feet, and let both knees fall to the right side of your body while looking over your left shoulder.  After 60 seconds, repeat on the other side.

So stretch out, wax up, and enjoy!  (Please don’t take this article as dispensing medical advice.  It is merely my insight as a yoga instructor and avid surfer.  And I wrote this disclaimer because I am also a lawyer.)

Feature Image by: Chudo Sveta

Community Connection

Learn some easy beach yoga with Brave New Traveler.



About The Author

Benita Hussain

Benita Hussain is the former Editor of Matador Sports. With a degree from Cornell University, she is a writer, lawyer and yoga teacher . She has also written for GOOD, Women's Adventure, SIERRA and Wave Lines, among others, and she was featured in Lonely Planet's Around the World with 40 Lonely Planet Bloggers.

  • Nancy

    Super piece, Benita. This actually inspires me to try surfing. I never thought about yoga and surfing having a natural partnership till now, but it totally makes sense.

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  • Anjeanette

    Chaturanga is not always the easiest pose for me. Thanks for mentioning it. I found that Leeann Carey has a great free yoga video on (chaturanga dandasana. Your readers might want to check it out:

  • xcel suits   

    Wow Can’t believe the magic of Yoga. Yoga certainly has become worldwide famous with its benefits. So surfers go for yoga if you want to improve your surfing

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  • gibran

    I like your suggestion of poses, I always feel better and ready for a surf after doing yoga. We’ve recently added yoga,, at Bodhi Surf School in Costa Rica for our guests.

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  • Manuel porras

    i like this post is very interesting

  • microdermabrasion

    Well, the existing 6 posses are really looking authentic and healthy way to keep our body fit. And the post inforamtion really discloses the best of information about the Yoga situations. I am really highly impressed to see a. Thanks for sharing some coolest info about it.

  • yvonne

    Hey wow, these are exctly the poses we would include in a warm up for a surf session.
    Check out our Yoga and Surf retreats in Portugal:

  • Yuko Iwasaki

    In my sequence, I contain.

  • Bintang Bob

    I’m trying to understand Garudasana but it makes no sense to me. Maybe some pictures would really help. If you know what to do it might seem obvious, but I’m completely new to yoga and I can’t get my head around the pose.The way I understand it I would have to snap my arms in two to make it work and I don’t think that would help me surf very well.

  • Kelly Fivebears

    Nice set there, thank you.

  • Joe lavaty

    I surf/snowboard a lot and I recently decided to try Yoga. It was hard to learn at first but I found a Yoga mat that really made it easier. It is called the CopyCat Yoga mat. It has hand/foot placements printed right on the mat so you know how to easily do each pose (reminded me of twister). No question it has made me a better surfer/snowboarder but it also made my body even better. I lost weight, got stronger and have better balance which translates directly into the boardsports. Check it out if you are interested in giving Yoga a try. Just a really cool idea that made Yoga possible for me.

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