Surf Training with Yoga
Surfers are passionate people who love their sport and believe that surf training is a must. No single activity can completely compare or mimic the complexity of strength, skill, balance and coordination needed to perform successfully in the water.
Surf training can improve performance and prepare you for the sport. Surfers need three things when it comes to being in the best physical surf shape – endurance, power, and core balance.
Any surf training on land must be easily translated to movement in the water. With surfing increasing in popularity, there’s been an interest in staying in “surf shape” when not in the water. This is especially true for those whose only opportunity to surf is a few times per year, like on vacation or at a surf-specific retreat.
As a student of yoga for 15 years and a teacher for 10, I credit my daily, vigorous yoga practice for increasing my skill as a surfer as well as picking it back up again with relative ease when I’ve been away from the ocean. I found that the more I focused on my yoga practice, the better I felt in the water.
Why yoga? First of all, there are a myriad of physical benefits through practicing yoga – from increased strength and flexibility to better coordination and balance. Of course, not all yoga is created equal. In my opinion, a challenging Vinyasa Flow, Power Yoga or Hatha Yoga class would be ideal to receive maximum benefit for your surf training.
In a flow style class there are many movements that mimic the actions required in surfing, such as arching up through the upper back while paddling, (like cobra or locust pose) and “popping up” to catch a wave. It’s more fluid and applicable.
A regular yoga practice also helps provide the mental focus and clarity that is needed for surfing. If you are not fully aware of your body and fully present in your surroundings, you will not fare well. With that in mind, meditation is also very beneficial. The practice of Pranayama in yoga (breathing techniques) also helps to increase capacity for holding breath as well as staying calm in stressful situations.
I would often find myself sitting on my board waiting for the next set, focusing on a calm meditative state as well as my breathing. This would give me the focus and the peace of mind I needed to face my fears and handle the water conditions.
Combining surfing with yoga has become a passion for me as well as many others. There is a good reason why some of the world’s finest surfers such as Gerry Lopez and Greg Long (who stepped into one of my yoga classes while I was teaching in Mancora, Peru) have been students of yoga for a very long time. I have also had the pleasure to work alongside professional surfer Rochelle Ballard, who created her own brand “Surf into Yoga”.
If you are serious about surf training, my advice to you is to start a regular yoga practice! You can continue to cross-train in any manner you wish. But nothing will prepare you for the physical as well as the mental demands quite like yoga.