Sidebends are some of the least practiced but most effective yoga poses for surfers. They’re invaluable because of the sheer amount of twisting and rotation involved in the sport and because every single movement originates at the core.
They stretch the obliques, intercostals, lats, triceps and delts and release tightness in the upper back, neck and shoulders.
Practice this sequence a couple of times a week to ease muscle soreness, speed up recovery time, reduce your risk of injury and increase your stamina and power.
The benefits of sidebends:
-They stretch the hips, gluteals, quadratus lumborum, obliques, intercostals, serratus anterior, lats, delts and triceps.
-They increase range of motion in the shoulders and spine.
-They release tightness in the upper back, neck and shoulders.
-They relieve compression between the vertebrae
-They open up the ribcage which increases breath capacity
-They build core strength.
As this sequence is fairly advanced, I’m going to break it down into the individual poses and give you some tips to help you get the most out of it.
Try to focus on your breath throughout and be careful not to force the stretches and risk hurting yourself.
Half Sun Salutations
We begin the routine with some half sun salutations to warm up your body and get the blood circulating to your muscles.
Tip: When you swan dive down into forward fold, hinge at the hips and bend your knees as much as you need to, to keep your back completely flat.
This pose is great because you can do it anywhere and it stretches the entire side of your body: the hips, gluteals, quadratus lumborum, obliques, intercostals, serratus anterior, lats, delts and triceps.
Tip: Stretch up to lengthen your spine before you bend to the side, try not to let your top shoulder fall forward and keep your chest open.
All Fours Spinal Mobility
This is a modification of cat cow which focuses on lateral flexion and extension of the spine to increase suppleness and range of motion.
Tip: Engage your core and try to keep your back flat.
If you keep your knees bent in downward dog, you can get a really deep stretch in your arms, shoulders, and upper body.
Tip: Focus on bending your knees as much as you need to, to flatten your lower back.
Low Lunge With Sidebend
This is a great stretch for surfers because it not only stretches the quadratus lumborum, obliques, intercostals, serratus anterior, lats, shoulders and triceps, it also opens up the hips and groin and stretches the psoas.
Tip: Try to keep your upper body upright. If your fingertips do not reach the mat, you can rest them on a block or low table.
Extended Side Angle
This pose is another great side stretch and hip opener. It also builds strength in the feet, ankles, knees and thighs.
Tip: Reach through the fingertips in your top hand to deepen the intensity of the stretch and try not to let your bottom shoulder collapse.
This pose is also a great core strengthener.
Tip: As you hold the pose, seal your lips and focus on your breath.
This pose is great for increasing flexibility in the spine, strengthening the hands, wrists, arms, shoulders and back and challenging your balance.
Tip: This pose is fairly advanced so only go into wild thing if you feel confident.
Revolved Head To Knee
This is a relaxing, seated sidebend.
Tip: Try not to let your top shoulder fall forward and flex your extended foot to add a stretch for your hamstrings.
Final Resting Pose
We finish the sequence with a short body scan meditation to relax your body and calm your mind.
Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.
Editor’s Note: You can download the complete Yoga for Surfer Series here. Video in this article by Janalyn Hanover