Health & fitness
Yoga tips for surfers with Philly Lewis
Summer is finally here, and if there’s ever a season to get into yoga then now would be the one. Long light evenings and warm(er) temperatures mean some beach yoga action is well and truly on the cards. We’ve caught up with Animal Advocate Philly Lewis to get a few yoga tips and find out how it can bring a fresh approach to surfing.
Hey Philly, in a previous post you’ve spoken to us about the relationship between yoga and surfing, could you enlighten us a little on how one affects the other?
Yoga focuses on body flexibility, strength and balance—the three main things you need when surfing. Each asana (pose) in yoga is opening a certain area of the body, whilst strengthening another. It really balances out the body. There's a lot of repetitive motion in surfing, which leads to the body getting super tight, particularly in the shoulders and hips, yoga helps to release this tension.
Most asanas focus on opening and strengthening the shoulders and hips, making more space in the body to give a better range of motion. Ultimately, this means a more dynamic paddle stroke, allowing you to paddle stronger and faster. Open hips give you more rotation, meaning bigger turns. Yoga is also a hell of a core workout and a strong core makes for faster pop ups and stronger movements all round. Not forgetting all the asanas that involve balancing on one leg—better balance means fewer wipeouts!
We also do a lot of breathing work in yoga, known as pranayama. This helps refine the connection between mind and body, allowing you to stay present in the moment and keeping you calm and centred—important if you’re struggling out in the surf! You can learn to consciously control and retain your breath, through practising deep inhalation and exhalation patterns.
What aspects of yoga would you say are most relevant to surfing?
All of them! Every little bit of yoga practice transfers into surfing; you learn how to use your body differently, maybe correctly. But I guess the flexibility and strength are the most noticeable.
The practice of yoga involves a very wide range of different exercises, each of which are designed for a specific purpose. Would you say some of these are particularly good for surfing?
Yes definitely. I think there are 4 poses every surfer should practise! Here are my yoga tips:
Pigeon Pose / Eka Pada Kapotasana
This pose opens the hips, stretches the thighs, groin and psoas muscles. It also opens and releases the chest and shoulders. A good pose to relax into and focus on the breath.
Downward Facing Dog/ Adho Mukha Svanasana
Downward Facing Dog is great for lengthening the hamstrings and calves, releasing lower back pain. It stretches and strengthens the shoulders as well as your arms, upper body and legs. It energises the body and calms the brain and nervous system.
Revolved Chair Pose / Parivrtta Utkatasana
By practising this pose you will strengthen the hip flexor muscles, the front of your thighs and adductor muscles of your inner thighs. It also stretches and strengthens the hip gluteus and calf muscles. It opens your chest, shoulders and upper back and improves the range of motion in your ankles.
Warrior 3 with Eagle arms
Warrior 3 improves your balance and awareness whilst strengthening your back leg, stretching your hamstrings and expanding your chest. It teaches you to engage the body’s core, building strength whilst toning and invigorating the whole body. Add in the Eagle arms and you feel an amazing stretch across the back of the shoulder blades.
Are there any particular exercises that are better before (warm-up) and after (stretching) a solid surf session?
When you warm-up it's better to use fluid movements rather than static stretching. Neck rolls, shoulder rolls followed by a few rounds of Sun Salutations. This way you keep the body moving, generate heat and can add in poses you feel you need to do.
After a surf session, it's good to wind down with a lot of forward folds and to hold your poses for longer.
Allow yourself to surrender into the stretch and get a little deeper. Yin Yoga is really good after a long surf session—or come to one of my yoga classes!
Find out more about Philly’s classes here: http://www.phillyjlewis.com/#!classes/jjrhx
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