- Rosalind Southward
Yoga for Surfers Sequence
Updated: Jan 3, 2020
This is a sequence you can do at home to ease the tension in the body after a full on surfing session. We'll focus on stretching the chest, side body, hips, and legs, as well as building strength in the core and shoulders to keep us injury free, and able to paddle and surf for longer! Here we go!
(**If you pregnant work with a teacher to modify this sequence accordingly as a number of poses will not be suitable).
- A cushion to sit on if hips are tight
- A strap or towel if shoulders are tight
Alternate nostril breathing
Alternate nostril breathing is a great breathing exercise to calm the nervous system and help us down regulate – great for after a pumping session in the waves!
Sit cross legged or however is comfortable for you, with a straight spine.
Tip – if your hips feel tight in cross legged, sit on some padding like a cushion. Lifting the hips higher than the knees can make it more accessible.
Fold down the first two fingers on the right hand. Close right nostril using right thumb.
Inhale through left nostril for 4. Hold the breath for 12, closing both nostrils using ring finger and thumb. Exhale through right nostril for 8.
Inhale through right side for 4. Close nostrils and hold breath for 12. Exhale through left for 8. Repeat 2 more rounds.
Seated side bend with 2 arm positions
This helps to stretch and open the side body. Relaxing the neck releases tension (and can help to drain any water out of your ears!)
Sit cross legged sitting on a cushion if hips feel tight. Place the right hand on the floor 18” to the outside of right hip.
Inhale and extend the left arm above the left ear, exhale sidebend to the right.
Bend the right arm so the forearm hovers above the floor and slide the right shoulder blade down away from the ear.
Inhale extend through the left arm, exhale relax right ear towards right shoulder to relax the neck. Hold for 3 breaths.
For the second arm position, exhale and lower the left arm down to a 45 degree angle in line with the hip. Left hand hovers around 12” above the floor. Inhale breathe into left side of neck, exhale let the neck relax. Hold for 3 breaths.
To release inhale and reach through the left arm to bring your torso up. Use the right hand on the side of your face to help the head up.
Repeat on the other side.
Tip: If you have water in one ear, work the side that allows you to relax that ear towards the shoulder first to encourage the water to drain out.
Elbow to Knee:
These Forrest Yoga abdominals will strengthen the core to support the back and offer more support whether you are on your board or on your yoga mat!
Lie on your back, legs bent and feet off the floor. Have ankles just below level of the knees.
Inhale lift head and shoulders up.
Pause, hold the breath, press low back down and curl tailbone up.
Exhale, move both elbows towards left knee and extend right leg out. Pull belly down at the end.
Inhale to come back to centre, bending both legs. Hold the breath, press low back down and curl tailbone up.
Exhale, move elbows towards right knee and extend left leg. Pull belly down.
Inhale back to centre.
Repeat 4 more on each side. Move slowly and with your breath so you feel the abdominal muscles activating.
Top tips – Lift the extended leg higher if you find you arch in your lower back when you extend it. Lift the bottom shoulder blade up off the mat as you move elbows towards the knee to get more activation in the core.
A great pose to open the front body after abdominals (and paddling your board!)
Lie on your back, legs bent and feet flat on the floor. Brush fingertips to the heels to help you position your knees above your ankles. Relax the arms a little out to the sides.
Inhale, feel the ribs expanding with your breath.
Exhale, press through feet to lift lower, mid and upper back up into bridge.
Inhale lengthen the rib cage. Exhale send the thigh bones forward.
Hold for 4 breaths. Use your leg strength and glutes to lift the hips up. Breathe into the front body, especially the front of the hips.
To come out of the pose, exhaling lower upper, mid, and lower back down. Tuck the tailbone as you lower to lengthen the low back.
Dolphin and turbo dog are great poses for strengthening the muscles that support the shoulders.
From a kneeling position place your forearms on the floor shoulder distance apart and parallel to each other. Take an inhale to expand the upper back, tuck toes under and lift the knees up, straightening the legs to come into dolphin. Press through the forearms so the head isn't touching the floor. Breathe into the upper back and broaden the shoulder blades to activate the muscles in the armpit/chest area.
Tip - Keep knees down if need be, or bend the legs at the knees if the stretch is too intense in the backs of the legs.
Hold for 4 breaths and then release, bringing the knees down. Rest back in child’s pose for a few breaths.
The slightly more fiery cousin of downward dog!
Start on hands and knees in tabletop.
Inhale and expand the upper back, exhale and bend arms at elbows so the forearms hover above the mat. Squeeze inner elbows towards each other to activate the chest muscles.
Stay here in turbo puppy, or tuck toes under and lift the knees, straightening the legs to come into Turbo dog. Hold for 5 breaths.
Tip – it’s not called Turbo for nothing! Bring knees down if it feels too intense. Enjoy the sense of strength as you activate the muscles necessary to hold this pose.
Chest Opener on the wall
This is a great pose for tight pecs and chest.
Stand sideways on, forearm distance away from a wall with the right foot forwards in warrior one.
Feet hip distance apart, hips point forward and back foot turned in to 45 degrees. Bend the front leg to 90 degrees.
Inhale lift the right arm up and walk the hand back on the wall until you find a ‘sweet’ stretch in the front of your right shoulder.
Inhale into right pecs, exhale press right hand into the wall shifting your torso away from the wall to open the chest.
Hold for 5 breaths and then release.
Spin around on the feet and then set up to repeat on the other side.
This series of movements make up a traditional sun salutation and can be used as a transition to get to the standing poses. If you are tired, take out plank, chataranga and cobra and simply step from down dog to the next pose.
Inhale lift the arms, exhale forward fold. Inhale lift to lengthen the spine, exhale step the feet back into plank.
Lower down through chataranga to lie on the floor.
Inhale into cobra, pulling the chest through the hands as you lift it to lengthen the low back.
(Tip – if you feel compression in the lower back, bring your hands forwards of the shoulders so you have more space to lengthen as you lift).
Press back into downward facing dog, straightening the arms and legs. Send the tail bone up and back to lift the weight off the shoulders. Press the heels in the direction of the floor (but don’t worry if they don’t touch!)
Eagle warrior 2
This pose creates space in that 'gnarly' area right between the shoulder blades.
From downward facing dog, step your right foot forward about 4 feet into warrior 2.
Line up front heel with the middle of back foot arch. Back foot turns in slightly. Bend the front knee to 90 degrees and back leg is straight.
Lift the arms and bend them at elbows, bringing the right elbow on top of the left into eagle arms. Palms of the hands might touch, otherwise bring the backs of the hands towards each other or as close as they will go.
Inhale lift elbows to eye height, exhale relax the neck bringing the forehead towards the upper arms.
Hold for 4 breaths focusing your breath into the upper back, then release.
Archer Warrior 2
Another pose for the shoulders. Use a yoga strap or a towel if your hands don't meet.
Inhale and lift your right arm up and bend it so the hand rests around on the upper back. Turn the left hand so the palm faces away from you and bring the left arm behind the back, bending the arm so that the hand moves towards the upper back. Either interlace fingers, or if your shoulders are tight, use a yoga strap, or a belt/towel between the hands.
Hold for 4 breaths breathing into the upper back, and shoulders. Release and let go of the strap.
Tip – Catch yourself if you start “fighting” the tightness in your shoulders in this pose. Allow there to be more space between the hands so the shoulders and upper back can release.
A great pose for creating space in the side body and neck.
Inhale lift the back arm to lengthen through the rib cage, exhale place the hand towards the top of the left thigh, leaning towards the back leg.
Bring the front arm to a 45 degree angle in line with the front hip and reach through the fingers.
Inhale lengthen the front ribs away from the front hip, exhale send the thigh bone forwards. Relax the left ear towards the left shoulder to release tension in the right hand side of the neck.
Hold for 4 breaths and then reach through the front arm to bring the torso up.
Extended Warrior Variation with chest opener
This pose creates space in both the front of the shoulder and the side body.
Place the right forearm onto the right thigh, press through it to and use your core to lift the right ribs away from the leg.
Inhale extend the left arm up, exhale arch the chest towards the sky and move the left arm back towards the wall behind you to open the chest muscles. Relax the neck.
Hold for 4 breaths breathing into left side of the chest.
To come out of the pose, release the top arm down and place hands to either side of the front foot.
Step back into plank and lower down to lie on the belly.
Boat hands clasped
This pose helps to strengthen the back muscles.
Lie on the belly and interlace the fingers to clasp hands on the lower back/buttock area. Rest the forehead down. Activate the muscles in the legs.
Inhale lift head, shoulders, feet and legs up off the floor. Breathe into front of shoulders and chest.
Hold for 3 breaths and then release.
Tip - Avoid engaging the neck muscles to lift you up and use your back muscles instead!
Press back into downward dog.
Repeat these poses with the left leg forwards and the opposite arm on top for eagle and archer.
Baddha konasana forward fold
A great stretch for the inner groin area.
Sitting, bring the soles of the feet together to make a diamond shape with the legs.
Inhale lengthen the ribs, exhale forward fold.
Hold for 5 breaths, breathing into hips and pelvis.
To release, inhale lift the torso and use the hands to close the knees back together.
Lying down spinal twist
A great pose for releasing tension in the low back and outer hip.
Lying on the back, extend the left leg out on the mat and bend the right knee and draw it in towards the chest.
Left hand holds right knee from the outside. Exhale and guide the right knee over to the left side of the body. Extend the right arm out to the right.
Hold for 4 breaths, breathing into the low back and front of the right shoulder.
To release, bend the arms to 90 degrees and bring the right knee back to centre. Swap legs over and change sides.
Savasana is your final relaxation pose.
Lie on your back with your arms and legs out to the sides. Close your eyes and feel the grounding support of the mat. Take a few moments (or longer!) to allow your body to rest and your mind to soak up the calm and quiet of your yoga practice.