If you have a deep love of the ocean and a penchant for adventure, then it’s likely you’ve tried surfing and if you haven’t, then grab a board and get out there! Whether you’re brand new to surfing or a seasoned vet, you know that this incredible sport requires what can at times feel like superhuman upper body strength and stamina.
Learning how to paddle and pushing up can lead to fatigue, especially in the upper body. No matter how much work you do to build up endurance and flexibility in your back, chest and shoulders, it can often seem like you’re fighting a never-ending battle against sore muscles and achy joints.
This sweet post-surf yoga flow has been perfectly curated to help you combat all of that, plus is key in avoiding injury. Accessible to all levels, and with sticky shoulders in mind, these poses will leave you feeling spacious and limber, inevitably leading to longer surfs and the opportunity to catch more waves. We recommend taking some time after your surf and before your body stiffens to ease your muscles into relaxation, making those aches and pains fade away.
#1 Seated Meditation.
Find a comfortable place to sit, either cross-legged or on your shins, using pillows under your sit bones if you’d like. You can even lean your back against a wall or headboard for support. Close your eyes and take a moment to become still and quiet in your physical body. Feel your seat drop down, rooting through the lower half of your body. Let your shoulders melt away from your ears and bring a soft expression to your face. Begin to notice the natural rhythm of your breath, in and out of your nose. Welcome the chatter in your mind, and then let your mind become quiet and still just as your physical body has. Stay here for as long as you’d like.
#2 Eagle Arms.
Continue sitting comfortably.
- Reach your arms wide out to the sides, stretching fingertip to fingertip, and bring your right arm over your left, crossing at the elbows. You can bring your palms to touch, backs of hands to touch or even grab opposite shoulder with opposite hand.
- Reach your elbows away from your chest and slightly up towards the sky until you feel sensation in your upper back. Ensure your shoulders are softening away from your ears, and that you’re going to a depth where you can still breathe.
- Stay here and breathe for 10-15 slow breathes and then switch sides.
Eagle Arms, or Garudasana, is great for creating space in the upper thoracic and lower cervical spine, into the back of the heart and between the shoulder blades.
#3 Puppy Dog Pose.
- Come to all fours, stacking hips over knees and shoulders over wrists. If knees are sensitive you can double up your mat or kneel on a pillow for support.
- Walk your hands forward out in front of you, bring your forehead to the mat or a block and melt your heart back towards your thighs. Make sure that your hips remain over your knees to get the full benefits of the pose. You can explore walking your fingertips even further forward, lifting forearms and elbows up so that you are just on your finger pads to increase sensation in your shoulders and across your chest.
- Have 15 – 20 long breaths.
Puppy Dog Pose, or Anahatasana, is an incredible way to release tension that can build up around the shoulders and chest from paddling.
#4 Broken Branch.
- From puppy pose, slide forward so that you’re lying on your stomach. You can take a moment with your forehead resting on the floor to allow your shoulders and spine to neutralize.
- When you feel ready, prop yourself up on your forearms, bringing your elbows under your shoulders. Make sure you have a block or a pillow handy.
- Thread your right arm behind your left elbow, reaching your right hand to the left, and left hand to the right until you feel sensation in your upper back. Take a look to see that your hands are reaching equal distance away from you and that your shoulders are square to the mat.
- Let your head drop heavy and bring a block or pillow under your forehead so that your spine is supported. You should feel a stretch between your shoulder blades and maybe across your entire upper back.
- Let your legs and glutes relax and focus on breathing into where you feel sensation.
- Stay here for 2-3 minutes and switch sides.
Broken Wing is a serious crowd-pleaser amongst all surfers-it targets the upper back but also brings sweet relief to tension in the neck and shoulders.
#5 Broken Wing.
- From lying on your stomach, extend your right arm to the right so that your right wrist, elbow and shoulder are in one line.
- Bring your left hand under your left shoulder and roll yourself onto your right side, legs should be stacked and right cheek should rest on the mat-use a pillow under your head if you need more support.
- You could stay just like this if you feel sensation in the front of your right shoulder, or you could go deeper, wrapping your left arm behind you and tucking your left fingertips under your right ribs.
- Going deeper still, you could bend your left knee and stamp your left foot behind your right leg.
- Stay here for at least 15 breaths and then switch sides.
Both of these variations will increase sensation in your right shoulder and across your chest. Broken Branch is incredible for releasing tension in the chest and into your shoulders.
This flow is to be practiced ideally after every surf. You’ll find that with some consistency, not only will these poses create space in your physical body, but they will also help keep your mind calm and focused, and your breath deep and rhythmic when you’re out in the water-a win-win! Happy yoga-ing and even happier surfing!
All photos featuring one of our yoga instructors in Nicaragua, Sally Rubin, 500hr ERYT + 200 hr Yoga Teacher Trainer. You can read more about her and see her schedule here!