Balancing helps to cultivate and maintain focus, whilst helping us to strengthen the body in a different way. All poses in yoga help us to practise balance and focus, however so not to repeat previously discussed poses, I have picked three new balancing poses.
There is so much to each pose in Yoga, but what is so great about using Yoga for Surfing, is that the whole body is working, not just one area. You will see this as you read through the ‘Why?' points and when you are practising the pose yourself.
Please remember (and this is especially important for these balances and poses) as you work through the below postures, work to a level that is available to you. Nothing beats practising Yoga under the guidance of a teacher. If you are in any doubt as to whether these poses are appropriate for you, consult your local Yoga Teacher, Doctor or Physiotherapist.
Reminder – Breathing Technique
Sitting on your mat or the floor, inhale into the rib cage, expanding the chest. As you exhale, draw your belly in. Focus on the breath whilst working in the postures; try not to hold your breath, instead move with your breath.
Pose 1: Vrksasana – Tree Pose
Strengthens and stabilises the ankles, as well as the thighs and calves
Creates space through the spine and shoulders
Stretches the inner thigh, shoulders and opens the chest
Improves balance and focus
1. Standing on your mat with your feet hip width apart, shift your weight onto the left foot. Keep the inner foot grounded onto the floor. Bring your hands onto your hips, find a focus point about a body length away from you and slowly lift your right ankle and take the right ankle with the right hand.
2. There are a few options available here; place the sole of your right foot against the inner left thigh pressing the heel into the thigh. If this isn’t possible for you, take the foot onto the shin or ankle.
3. Bring your hands together in front of heart centre, drawing your focus to the breath and gaze softly at your focus point. If you are feeling stable here, reach your arms above the head stretching through the fingertips, feeling length and space through the spine and shoulders.
4. Hold here for 30 seconds – or how long your balance allows. Stay strong and lift tall through the left grounded ankle. Release and repeat on the other side.
5. Find focus, calm and stillness in the pose.
Pose 2: Navasana – Boat Pose ￼￼
Improves balance and focus
Strengthens the abdomen, hip flexors and spine
1. Start by sitting on the mat with your legs straight along the mat. Place your hands slightly behind the hips on the mat with your fingertips pointing towards the feet. Keep the chin neutral and keep lifting through the crown of the head, obtaining a long spine. Find your sitting bones and tail bone in this pose and allow the body to find balance.
2. As you exhale, bend your knees towards the body and gently lift your feet off the floor, drawing your shins parallel to the floor.
3. Working with the breath, obtaining focus and balance, take both hands off the floor and lengthen in front of you, actively reaching through the fingertips.
4. At this point, if available to you, start to straighten the legs using your exhale. If you have tight hamstrings this may be tricky, you may instead wish to stay with the shins parallel to the floor.
5. Breathe softly in the pose, lifting through the crown of the head, yet keeping the chin slightly down, maintaining a long spine and neck.
6. This pose can be repeated, staying in the pose for perhaps 10 seconds for the first try, gently increasing the length of time in the pose.
Pose 3: Camatkarasana - Wild Thing Pose Variation ￼
Stretches the front of the body, opens the chest, lungs and shoulders
Opens the legs and hips
Builds strength in the shoulders, wrists and upper back
1. Starting in Adho Mukha Svanasana (full pose can be found in 5 Poses Every Surfer Should Know) take a few breaths here.
2. Inhale and extend your right leg into the air (what we call 'Three Legged Downward Facing Dog'), allow the heel of the right leg to drop towards the buttocks.
3. On an exhale, gently allow the right foot to drop onto the floor behind you. Go easy with this pose. Keep the hips nice and high, allow the left leg to lengthen and extend through the fingertips of the right hand, opening up the chest and abdomen. You can keep the right leg bent or straighten the leg which ever feels best for your body.
4. Stay strong through the left wrist, arm and shoulder, pushing the floor away through the hand and fingertips. Keep the breath flowing smoothly and allow your head to drop back.
5. Hold for up to 10 breaths and gently return to Downward Facing Dog and repeat on the other side.
Balances help to cultivate and maintain focus. Have fun and play with it!
Emma Lovick from Hang Ten Yoga is a certified instructor and specialises in teaching Yoga to surfers in South Devon. She looks closely at the breath, alignment, strengthening, opening and increased flexibility, reducing the potential for injury. Emma also teaches SUP Yoga in Devon throughout the summer, so you never have to be off the water!