By Ana Graziosi – Yoga Teacher and Keen Surfer
Why Yoga is Good
for the Surfer You Are
Surfing and Yoga go together hand in hand, like toast and tea.
Similar to a wetsuit, your body needs a solid layer of strength along with an element of stretchiness to be able to move well and effectively to best work your line down the wave and shred it up.
As the body ages you'll find that the more flexible you are the better, in terms of preventing injury and maintaining longevity in your sport.
Getting flexible can sound daunting for those of us that love a good physical workout but haven’t found the time to stretch.
Yoga can be a great option for helping the body finds that happy balance between strength and flexibility. These two aspects of bodywork are crucial in maintaining longevity and grace through our sports, activities and growing older.
In finding the right yoga class for your body and mind not only can you build confidence in the sports and activities you already do but you can actually lower your injury risk by making your body more malleable and resilient to the falls or oops moments along the way.Having had yoga in my life for sixteen years and becoming a yoga teacher, I highly recommend starting soon but take your time get into it slowly, calmly.
I remember the days when my hamstrings would scream at me from just trying to straighten my legs up in the sky while laying on my back, it’s been a long road but I’m happy I started and I think my hamstrings are too.
Flexibility and yoga aren’t about contorting your body into odd pretzel like shapes, sure sometimes more advanced practises can look that way, but more than that it’s about getting in tune with your body, listening to it, feeling what it needs most and setting small goals and intentions to work towards that help heal not only your body but mind.
Not only does it teach you patience it shows you how to breathe through the toughest of moments on the yoga mat which can often translate directly into you day to day life bringing you more peace and awareness.
Flexibility helps us find space in our bodies and lives, it helps us not react so abruptly and awkwardly in our movements. Through flexibility we find fluidity and flow in our activities and the greater stream of life.
Set up your tools to start: hydrate, have some nonrestrictive clothing on, and get on a yoga mat. Finding a good teacher can take time, it’s like finding a great therapist, sometimes you link and the experience is profound sometimes you don’t, that's fine, don't give up. Keep searching and find what works for you, even if you begin with an at home practice.
Start slow warming up the body, take a few breaths with your eyes closed if you want. The goal is to get calm as the body won’t ease into opening and stretching if we are in a subconscious state of fight or flight. It does this naturally as a form of protection but the tensing of these muscles structures can cause more harm long term than good. We have to tune into a deeper level of our calm state to let our body to know that it can trust us and that it won’t be harmed but coaxed into new shapes and movements that allow for space and serenity between our tissues, breath and bodies.
Moving and breathing simultaneously with awareness allows us to respect and learn more about our bodies scanning the corners that are often neglected through our day-to-day life.
As you become more aware of your body in your flexibility training you can set boundaries and intentions for yourself following the ebbs and flows of the body and mind, maybe even developing more confidence to place that same practice into surfing more challenging waves. Finding that balance is what flexibility is all about and what works best for your body depending where you are in your own life and mind body experience. Take your time, slow it down, listen and then act more mindfully. Breathing deeply you may just surprise yourself with the goals you achieve however small they make up the greater picture of your life and how you choose to live.
Most of all enjoy, notice the more you stretch the better it feels, sometimes hip and heart openers can feel quite euphoric as we breathe fresh oxygenated blood into areas of the body that need flow and movement from years of stagnation and immobility. Change is good, change is adaptation, change and movement is life. See if you can find flexibility in the corners of your lips as you stretch them to your ears, take a deep breath and notice if that brings any change to your sports, activities and life.