Surfing does not only require physical fitness but also mental focus, concentration, and full attention in the here and now. The same goes for Yoga too. No wonder that these two ways of life – those of surfers and yogis – can be combined and complemented so well.
Surfing is about overcoming your fears and facing new challenges. Quick reactions with physical fitness and mental strength are required in the water, so close to nature. A regular yoga routine is a perfect complement for these very requirements. Asana, pranayama, and meditation help to increase self-confidence, balance, energy, endurance, patience, flexibility, vitality, and consequently better performance in the ocean.
Yoga is good to embed in the preparation for surfing and also ideal for giving the fasciae and muscles something back after surfing. A faster recovery phase can be found through a passive balance. Active paddling and surfing are complemented with Yin Yoga and breathing techniques (Pranayama). This also reduces the risk of injury.
The goal is a strong body and a clear mind. Spiritual and physical balance. A harmonious collaboration of surf and yoga. If you look at surfing and yoga with a little distance, they are very similar in another respect: both in a group and as an individual activity they give pleasure and energy. United with nature, the two present the body and mind with new challenges.
It almost feels like surfers and yogis indulge in a similar lifestyle. Serenely, one lets oneself be guided by the tides. Looking at what is really important. Not on what others have. Rather, they look at what they need to live and not at what they could still have (more of).
It is people who are alive, with strength in their will and in their choices. Awareness that it is one’s own life that needs to be lived, not that of others. Trends come and go, flexibility is demanded. But at the same time, surfers and yogis are firmly rooted – on the board and on the mat. They are completely absorbed in what they do. There is an endless amount to learn – whether it’s the tides, the conditions at the spot, and as yet unknown mediation methodology, or the eight limbs of yoga. Both get up early, are the first in the water or on the mat. Greet the day. They are grateful, determined, and patient.
When I come out of the water after a good surf session, I have the same inner contentment and peace that I feel after my yoga practice. I take that with me into everyday life. It’s exactly these moments that make you exert yourself and demand a lot but then feel so indescribably good. You know you are alive. Fully and completely. It all shows how similar these two practices are and how well they can be united.
Both combine mindfulness, living in harmony, and gratitude towards nature. Presence in the here and now. You are aware of yourself and appreciate life. Intuitive movement, following the flow of the water, of the body. Listening to your inner voice is an important aspect of both yoga and surfing. Especially in strenuous paddling and surfing moments, it is important to keep a cool head. So that the waves don’t crush you and you can act quickly. To consciously calm down and even suppress the reflexes we are taught as children. To become a master of fear and to overcome it. To mentally recall what is important and not get lost in “what ifs”.
Meditative yoga sessions train the mental level and can thus achieve unimagined success in surfing. Skilled presence, mental and physical strength. Failures are better overcome. New energy can be regained more quickly. After all, some Yoga poses remind me of a surfer, and surfing in some of its movements reminds me of popular yoga flows. Read about the 3 most important Yoga poses every surfer should know in another blogpost.
Isn’t it particularly interesting that the breath and the waves are so similar? During our yoga asana flows – our physical exercises in yoga – we move in the flow of the breath, in waves. In the water, we wait for the next set to be carried along by the wave and finally carried. We surf up and down, to the rhythm of the water.
However, the right breathing technique can calm us down and thus help us to have longer endurance. Lengthening the breath also helps us to endure the washing machine we get into from time to time while surfing and to keep enough air in our lungs. Pranayama, as the yogic breathing techniques are called as an umbrella term, thus counts as the third mainstay alongside physical and mental exercises.
We can take a lot from both surfers and yogis for our everyday lives! When surfing, you are completely at the mercy of nature. Swell, wind, spot. These are all realities. Uninfluenceable. Take life as it comes. Even the bad days. This is what you have to take with you. Because there won’t be crystal-clear water and mellow waves every day. Sometimes you have to fall on your face and slap your face directly on the water. But what counts is to pull the board back in and start paddling. Get back in the line-up and do better.
In everyday life, there is always a bad wave or even several. Then you have to do exactly the same as in the water: keep calm, breathe deeply. Gather energy, focus your thoughts. And sometimes: let go. Yoga is something you can take home with you. Think back to the water in meditation. Feel the waves through the flow and feel salty again. It’s up to us to choose happiness. With surfing and yoga, you are definitely on the right side.
It’s the same with yoga as it is with surfing. Sometimes it takes years on the mat to realize that yoga is so much more than “just” physical practice. You learn to listen to your own body and the yoga work-out becomes a self-determined practice.
Sometimes it’s a sweaty vinyasa flow that winds and challenges the body, other times it’s an introspective yin class that you feel. Some days you will spend pranayama or a lot of meditation and not do any physical exercises. That is ok and good. Because as a yogi, you have a choice.
It is the same with surfing. At the beginning of being a surfer, it is hard to see even onshore mushy waves as much fun. But with practice and better skill, you learn to get the best out of the wave. To choose the right board and to enjoy nature. After all, everything is made of the same substance, high or low. The decision, one’s own choice of contemplation is what makes the difference. Presence coupled with mindfulness at the highest level. Little by little, both surfing and being a yogi take up a larger part of one’s life. One finds one’s pole of peace, one’s balance, one’s center in it.
Yoga and Surfing have so many things in common and complement each other in various ways. In my 14 Days Yoga for Surfers Course, I will guide you through 14 yoga classes in 30 to 40 minutes, to get you physically ready for your next surf trip. Locust, Plank, and Warrior II of course play a role there. In a workbook, I will give you the tools to write affirmations and set an intention to be mentally ready for the ocean as well. Go check out the Yoga for Surfers online course and be ready to be prepared for your next surf trip!