06 Jan 5 Reasons You Need To Show Yoga Some Love, Surfers!
Stepping out of his first yoga class, resident Yogaholic, Troy Abraham, left feeling high and went from not being able to surf to landing frontside reverse airs. It was magic! Troy encourages everyone who is surfing to do yoga. That said, here’s the roundup of 5 great reasons you, as a surfer, should show yoga some serious love. You might even get better at surfing and much more.
Yoga complements surfing as it builds strength, flexibility and balance. When you surf, you need to be focused and peaceful. It’s about stretching you out before you paddle for days! Let’s hear it from Troy himself, why you, as a surfer, should take up a yoga practice.
“And I did leave my first class feeling high. That’s the only way I could explain it. I would say it was something like how I felt after a great wave. So I craved more of it and was immediately hooked. Felt pretty damn good too!” was just the opening. Here’s more!
Five reasons you should spice up your surfing with some yoga
Strength and flexibility
Let’s not beat around the bush; there are physical benefits: strength and flexibility are beautiful things. Being flexible in the water might mean you can tuck into that tiny tube, or maybe just let your stance benefit from a bit more bend in the knees and more style. Perhaps a little drop wallet is in your repertoire? Whether on purpose or not, you need a bit of core strength to recoil from a layback of any sort. And yoga delivers flexibility and core strength. And for that matter, functional body strength. Depending on the intention, the physical practice of asana can be tailored to give more of a stretch, more strength or both.
Breath. Whether you’re aware of it or not, you are breathing. Always. Automatically. When surfing, we are often breathing more heavily. In yoga, practicing pranayama is training ourselves to be more aware of our breathing, and to learn to regulate it. Why should it matter to spend energy regulating the breath if it happens on its own anyway? The quick answer: prana is often known as life-force in yoga can be broken into pra-anu – or first unit. Essentially, it is the most fundamental nutrition we ever take in, and we’ll always be taking in. So while many of us put a tremendous amount of time and energy on how we eat, we hardly pay any attention to how we breathe. If we give more attention to how we breathe consciously, we can radically affect our unconscious breathing, which in turn allows us to be calmer, more relaxed and able to respond. Remember constantly changing waves?
More waves, anyone?
I have yet to meet a surfer who would prefer not to have more waves, so I’ll assume you are interested. Practicing yoga gives a complete mind-body-spirit holistic integration. Since there is no separating any of these pieces, it would make sense that a “workout” that touches the whole would allow the whole to go on longer. When the physical benefits come into play, the body is more supple and more enduring. With the mind practice, and with much of the studies of neuro-plasticity and the benefits of meditation, we can stay calmer for longer, hence using less energy to burn through our repetitive thoughts. The calmness, in turn, gives us more focus, more concentration and more of the high we seek in life; Presence.
More presence is the key to a more fulfilled life. We often speak of Flowstates, where we have experiences that transcend time. A dedicated practice can keep us more prepared to step into flow more often, and a 20-year psychological experiment conducted by the master of flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, concluded that those with the most flow in their life, are the happiest people. He also stated that yoga is one of the most natural access points into a flow. So having a dedicated practice can produce more flow intrinsically, as well as preparing us for it more often.
Making better choices
Ever had a gut feeling? Unsure of whether to trust it or not? A committed yoga practice can get us more in tune with our enteric nervous system, which is now being studied as our “second brain” and allows us to hone in on its communication with the brain. Now, gut instincts aside, have you ever tried to refine your diet/lifestyle/habits? The more rooted in a practice you become, you may find that you don’t need to change anything. Instead, your instincts begin to shift toward more healthy choices automatically. When you naturally start putting better fuel into your body and mind, you become more connected in general, and as we complete the circle, this lends toward more connected surfing. Winning!
Sneaky Surfer Sets flow
Bonus Reason! Adding a little flow to your pre-surf game gives you time to survey the sea. If you move for only 5-10 minutes right as you get to the beach, you’ll be able to see where the banks are, what the wind is doing, where to sit etc. And when “that set” comes in as you’re stretching away, you develop a more profound sense of patience, not needing to rush out to get wet, but savouring the scenery, and realising that there are more out there for you! This pre-surf routine may even start to edge into a gentle meditation.
Written by Troy Abraham