I have been surfing since I was a kid. Prior to starting yoga eight years ago, I would never stretch and when I saw other surfers stretching, I didn’t think it was necessary. To this day, I don’t see many surfers stretching prior to a surf session. If I knew what I know now, even as a kid, I would have been stretching before each session. I have seen injuries that may have been avoided with a proper warm-up. Surfing is a sport and I can’t think of any sport that doesn’t recommend a proper warm up prior to full engagement.
I now realize that stretching on the beach is important before a surf session. Not only will you prevent injuries, but you will also stretch and warm up your body prior to taking off on your first wave. Since I surf dawn patrol, my body is cold and stiff early in the morning. Jumping into the water and surfing after you sweat in a yoga class is an awesome feeling! As a warm-up routine prior to paddling out, I follow these six yoga postures in order.
Feet together. Stand with firm contact on the ground. Stand tall, relax your shoulders. Bring your arms over your head sideways and clasp your hands together into a steeple grip. Interlock all ten fingers, release your index finger, thumbs crossed. Lift your chin and keep your spine straight. Try to get your elbows locked, with biceps always touching the ears. Inhale reach up and stretch your body right and left several times. Feel the stretch down both sides of the body.
From the half moon pose, inhale and stretch up, then exhale and bend forward from the waist. Try to place your hands on the ground, calves or ankles. Bend your knees and squat a few times to open up your hips and lower back. Then stretch your body down from the lower spine toward the ground and hold. Keep your hands in the same position you had them earlier. Feel the nice stretch in the back of your legs. Shift weight to your toes and slowly try to straighten your legs.
Stand on your knees, keep six inches between your knees and feet. Place your hands on your lower back just above your hips, fingers toward the ground, thumbs outside. Take a deep breath and push your hips forward and lift your chest up. Look back as far as you can. If you are flexible enough, place your right hand on right heel, left hand on left heel, fingers inside, thumbs outside. Continue to push your hips forward. If your hips are collapsing, keep your hands on your hips.
Sit down and bend your left knee and place your right foot over the left knee corner. Bring your left arm over your right knee, with your elbow against the outside of the knee. Place your right hand next to your right hip for leverage. Inhale, keep your hips down and lift your chest up. Make sure to keep your spine straight. Exhale twist your body to the right, and push your left elbow against your right knee as you look over your right shoulder.
Repeat left side.
Lie down on your stomach, chin away from your chest. Place your hands under your shoulders, fingers in line with your shoulders, very close to your chest. Keep your feet together. Press the top of your feet into the ground. Do not lift your feet off the ground during the entire posture. Lift your upper body up using 100% back strength. Come up halfway until only your belly button touches the ground. The rest of your upper body is in the air. With little weight in the hands, your elbows should look like a capital letter “L” from the side.
Sit on the ground and bring your right leg out. Bend your left leg and place your left foot against your right inner thigh at a 90-degree angle. Inhale arms over your head, interlock your fingers, stretch up, and grab your right foot. Suck your stomach in and stretch forward and down towards your right foot.
Clyde Matsusaka has been surfing almost his entire life and has been practicing yoga for the last eight years. Clyde trains in both the Bikram and Ashtanga Yoga styles, and he teaches yoga at HotYoga8 Honolulu. Clyde is on the WAYmat (We Are Yoga) team, and has also represented Hawaii at the USA Yoga National Championships in 2014 and 2015.