What’s your favorite classic duo? Peanut butter and jelly? Batman and Robin? The moon and the stars? Our favorite: surfing and yoga.
There’s a reason why surfing and yoga is a commonly booked class combination at School of the World. Whether you’re a seasoned yogi that’s trying out a new hobby in the water, or an avid surfer that’s looking to establish a practice on solid ground, the two activities go together like cookies and milk, Netflix and chill, tacos and Tuesday… you get the point.
Like many sports and activities, physical strength is necessary in both surfing and yoga. Strong muscles not only allow for advancement in the practice but also keep us safe from injuries.
Core strength, shoulder, arm and wrist muscles and strong ankles are crucial when navigating a wave on a surfboard and transitioning into poses on a yoga mat. A strong core allows surfers the ability to pop up onto their boards without injury. Many Vinysa based yoga poses are core centric. Poses such as Warrior one and two, inversions and balancing poses all center from abdominal strength. Popping up on a surfboard and a chaturanga push up are nearly identical movements involving core, arm, wrist and ankle strength. The muscles gained from surfing lends a helpful edge to yogis looking to evolve their practice into poses such as handstands and arm balances.
Like any exercise, it’s important to treat your body with respect when practicing both yoga and surfing. Any prior injuries or pain during practice should be acknowledged. Always ask your instructor for helpful modifications and alternative ways of approaching the sport or the practice.
Just as strength is important to help prevent injuries, flexibility allows us to go deeper into yoga poses and be more nimble on our surfboards. The goal of finding flexibility in your yoga practice is not to be able to wrap your feet behind your head. Bodies are made differently. Some find it easy to bend into certain shapes, while others find peace in staying still.
When pairing surf and yoga, flexibility plays a role. Open hips allow surfers to navigate the waves quicker and more precise, directing the board with the ever changing flow of the ocean. Extended arm and leg muscles make it easier for a yogi to enter poses and shapes that require more space and elasticity
Devoting time to training your muscles and your body to expand is just as important as nailing the inversion or catching the wave. The key to finding a flexible practice in both surf and yoga is just that – practice.
The sound of the ocean is considered one of the most calming sounds in the world. The repetitive sound of waves crashing onto a beach is often compared to the inhale and exhale of our breath.
Breathwork, or pranayama, is a well known aspect of yoga. Focusing on breath often slows down our racing minds, and allows us to turn inward as opposed to only noticing what is happening around us. Yogis who practice breath control and meditation often find that they’re able to go deeper into their physical practice as well as their mental practice. The same is true for surfing.
With all of the external stimulations that a surfer can feel while on their board, it’s important to have a grounding force that promotes a clear and calm mind. Finding your breath and using it as a guide is crucial to staying safe while in the water.
Clearing your mind can be a simple meditation before stepping onto your mat or your board, or intentional breathwork practices designed to help you stay present and alert in the moment. There is no right or wrong way to allow your breath to calm your senses.
At School of the World, we often pair yoga with our surf lessons by practicing a quick and invigorating beach side flow before we hit the surf or a mindful practice to finish the day. Whether you’re an experienced yogi, surfer or new to both, we believe that both activities offer the truest sense of, another favorite duo, Yin and Yang.