You just landed on the sandy shore after another long day of surfing, riding those salty waves and soaking up golden sun rays. It feels nice to be back on land, even though the ocean will hold your heart until the board meets water again.
The sun is going down over the horizon, so you rest on the sand for a while to relax your sore muscles and reflect on your journey through the water.
The sunlight fades, and so the cycle of the surf is complete for another day.
As with everything in life, there is an ebb and flow, a push and pull, a constant change. The ocean pushes and pulls, and so do our bodies when acting in motion. We go from a point of high energy to low energy- and the cycle repeats.
Somewhere between those two extremes- high and low- we can find balance. From balance, there is peace, rejuvenation, and healing. Finding this middle point is crucial for surfers because it allows the body to both rest and strengthen.
The only way to surf those towering waves forever is to maintain the body by combining your surfing practice with yoga. Yin yoga is how many surfers embrace energetic balance and remain capable of hitting the swells for years. Ability is not defined by age, but by how well we take care of our bodies.
Let’s take a closer look at Yin yoga for surfers.
What is Yin Yoga?
Yoga is a beautiful practice that nourishes not only the mind and spirit but also the body. It has been practiced for centuries in Eastern cultures, and it is now booming in popularity among, Western culture
There is a science behind yoga; it is backed by years of research, learning, and understanding. Many physical therapy exercises incorporate yoga moves because they have such a powerful impact on the body.
Fast-paced yoga is what will most likely come to mind- quick down dog poses and 30 second holds before switching to another posture. This is Yang yoga- quick, fast, active, repetitive, rhythmic, strength-building.
Unlike its close relative, Yang yoga, Yin yoga focuses on less movement and more mindfulness. Yang brings strength and rigidness for cutting through the surf like a stone. Yin brings flexibility and grace for creating balance on the board. Both are equally essential halves to a whole.
Yin yoga is gentle, slow, focused, relaxed, and meditative. This style of movement is perfect for surfers because it releases tension in the muscles and helps the mind recenter with the body.
Yang postures involve short holds with complicated movements, but Yin postures are very basic and are held for up to five minutes. The breath is controlled- deep breathing- through stillness the whole time.
This is ultimate healing for the mind, body, and spirit.
What are the Health Benefits of Yin Yoga for Surfers?
Yin yoga brings an array of mental and physical health benefits for surfers. Let’s explore a few.
Creates Lean Tissue
As mentioned, Yin yoga poses are held for up to five minutes. This means your tightly-wound muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues get the chance to breathe. Tissues expand and lengthen in the process, creating stronger joints and leaner muscles.
Deep breathing is a key component of Yin yoga. When you breathe in deeply- filling the abdomen with oxygen- all that oxygen flows throughout your body and increases blood circulation in places that need it most. Try visualizing the oxygen flowing to your tissues and ligaments when you inhale.
Lowers Stress & Tension
The calm feeling you experience after a Yin yoga session is surreal. Each pose sends your mind and body into new depths of relaxation and release. Your heart rate slows down, the chaos of the mind fades, and you are wrapped in ultimate surrender.
How Can it Improve My Surfing?
Yin yoga is a beautiful tool that any surfer can use to improve their skills.
Surfing requires strong body control in order to stay on your board and avoid constant wipeouts. Creating flexibility is at the top of the importance list, along with carving out lean muscles. Deep Yin yoga stretches create a more extensive range of movement, which allows your body to bend and turn in dynamic forms so that you can navigate swells like a pro.
Yin yoga incorporates moves that heal muscles and rub out tense nervous tissue. How? Because you are locked in an extended state of stillness, the brain gets the signal that it can relax and switches to the parasympathetic nervous system. This is what enables the body to heal and restore itself.
A still mind can master the gnarliest of waves. Yin yoga teaches peace, consciousness, and mindfulness. It gets you comfortable with being in your body so you can tune in to what’s happening internally and externally throughout your watery environment.
Tips for Better Yin Yoga Practice
Here are a few ways to approach your Yin yoga practice to make the most out of your pre or post surfing session.
Really Feel It
Tune into your body movements when bending into Yin yoga postures. Put your conscious awareness into the motions and how it feels throughout your entire body. Don’t worry about getting the postures perfect. Just do what is best for you and listen to your body.
Use Yoga Props
Some Yin yoga postures may require yoga blocks. Using a block will allow a greater range of movement and support areas of your body that need extra help (like your back).
Make it a Habit
As with anything, practice makes perfect. If you make it a habit to practice yoga after you surf, you will notice significant improvements in how you perform on your board and how great you feel performing everyday activities.
Conclusion: Yin Yoga for Surfers
At the end of the day, how you treat your body (and mind) is the most important. Constantly shredding the waves without maintaining your joints is no good. Surfers need a sound mind and athletic body to safely do what they love- navigate the ocean for years to come. Yin yoga is the perfect answer to both.