Surfers are always, like, totally mellow, right? Not always! While surfing is stereotypically associated with a relaxed lifestyle, the intense demands the sport puts on the body can leave muscles feeling anything but.
Surfing is a highly effective whole-body workout; the flipside is that it can also lead to a wide array of potential joint imbalances, tight muscles, and shoulder issues (thanks, endless paddling). Luckily, most of these problems are not only relatively easy to fix but also to prevent with a little bit of care and attention off the board.
Yoga makes a great complement to almost any athletic training regimen, and it’s particularly well suited to surfers’ needs. While a novice surfer can benefit from the strength-building qualities of a vigorous asana practice, those with more experience (and the tight shoulders and hips to prove it) will get more out of a slower, stretchier practice, either immediately after riding or on a day off. This type of practice isn’t necessarily about making amazing leaps in mobility; instead, it’s about regaining some of the flexibility lost during any kind of intense workout. Just a few mindful, easy stretches will prevent muscles from settling into a shortened, stiff position, and will make your next surf session that much more enjoyable and productive. More mindful stretching also helps identify left-to-right-side imbalances in the body and nip them in the bud before they progress into full-blown overuse injuries.
The benefits of yoga go far beyond the physical, too. Many people liken surfing itself to a sort of moving meditation, and improved mental focus will certainly improve your performance. Similarly, having the ability to tap into calm, yogic focus on demand will help you to stay balanced and in control of your board even in choppier waves.