Photo: Patagonia / Youtube

The Inertia

Wouldn’t it be nice to surf using the full range of movements in our bodies? Imagine quickly popping up, surfing top to bottom, using every part of the wave, and feeling really balanced on your board. Just think how much better your surfing would be, not to mention your added confidence in the water.

But right now you’re body feels stiff, popping up takes effort, and rotating your torso makes you wonder if and when you’ll need a hip replacement. Sound about right?

If this is you, then you have two options: Take no action and get frustrated. Take action and progress quickly.

If you like option two then welcome to the world of yoga for surfers. Surfing well is about elasticating our bodies. You only need to look at the CT roster to see how the best in the world move and shape their bodies into positions we could only dream of. And yoga is possibly the best way for the average person to get their muscles nimble and really flexible.


What’s the best way to get your muscles nimble and really flexible? Just think of all the different movements you perform when surfing:

  • Rotating
  • Lunging
  • Compression
  • Extensions

And what about all the mindfulness similarities?

  • Breathing
  • Staying present
  • Clam
  • Clarity
  • Relaxed

Surfing is difficult. There is just a small percentage of surfers in the world who do it well. The rest fall into either an intermediate or beginner classification. And as we all age, we lose our flexibilty, which we know will diminish our surfing ability. As we develop bad habits and unhealthy lifestyle choices we limit our ability to be flexible and nimble. And therein lies the problem.

“It’s been so amazing for my mind, my surfing, who I am and how I feel,” Nicki Van Dyke says about combining the two. “I’ve learned so many things about my body that have helped improve my surfing. I’ve noticed significant improvements in my fitness. Not only has it made me stronger and more flexible, it’s also influenced my breathing.”

For landlocked surfers, maintaining your flexibility out of the water is key for the opportunities you do get to surf. Yoga for city surfers is an amazing way to stay connected and will help with the surfing fix while grinding through city life. You won’t be able to replace the surf stoke but it’s going to be the next closest thing. A few yoga studios even host classes for city surfers, which is a great way to connect with like-minded people in the concrete jungle.

Now, as promised, here are a few of the benefits of yoga as a training tool to improve your surfing:


Breathwork has long been associated with yoga, but it’s often overlooked as a fitness component in surfing. The ability to breath correctly has a positive effect on your fitness levels and with your overall confidence in the water. On top of that, staying calm when you find yourself in uncomfortable situations can be a lifesaver.

How to breath properly and improve your surfing

Take wiping out, for example. Most beginners, in particular, find wiping out rather uncomfortable. Learning to stay calm with the correct breathing technique can instantly change the way you feel about the situation. Not panicking will give you a massive confidence boost to surf bigger and more challenging waves in the future.

Most of us breathe in short, shallow breaths that limit the amount of oxygen supply into the body. If you’re not getting all the oxygen you need it’s impossible to perform at your best. Eastern cultures have long associated good breathing techniques with longevity and optimal health, so learning the correct way to breathe will see significant changes to your overall wellbeing.

Injury Prevention

It’s rare to come across a surfer who doesn’t nurse a few aches and pains in their body. If you’ve been surfing a couple of times a week for a long period and not stretching, then it’s natural to encounter a few in your body later over time. And if you’ve ever spent time out of the water due to an injury, you know firsthand how frustrating this is. Driving past the surf watching pumping sets come through and you have to sit out and talk to your friends who are coming in saying “It’s pumping out there” is enough to drive anybody crazy.

Surfing is highly addictive and you really want to be surfing well into your later life, so setting aside a small amount of time each day will pay dividends to your body in the future. The good news is that yoga for surfers can help prevent future injuries and diminishes the chances of old injuries becoming re-occurring ones. Specifically, there are two categories of injury that can be sustained by surfing: traumatic and repetitive.

Traumatic injuries occur when you may have had a previous strain or fracture, and then more commonly, repetitive injuries manifest in the form of a strain through overuse. Overuse of the same muscles groups can eventually cause strain and pains in the body, which is why most of surfing’s injuries are of the repetitive variety.

Paddling is commonly where you will find most of these problems. It’s where and how most of our energy is used in the act of surfing. Your neck, shoulders and lower back are the areas you need to be careful of. Yoga targets these specific areas and strengths and loosens your body to feel more nimble, preparing it to avoid those injuries of overuse.

Your Overall Fitness Levels Will Increase

A regular practice of yoga will see an increase in your overall fitness levels, regardless of whether you surf or not. This is particularly awesome if you aren’t able to surf regularly because one of the toughest things for the weekend warrior or the landlocked surfer is maintaining a stable fitness level out of the water. Yoga focuses on the balance, flexibility, and agility you put to use one you’re back in the water.

Surfing also requires core strength, a great part of which is focused on through regular yoga practice. Nearly every action in surfing involves the core, so strengthening this area through a variety of yoga poses will enable the body to perform many different motions at once. In fact, most of the muscles put to use for yoga are exactly the same as those we use for surfing. The combination of both makes it a perfect match to achieve better results both in and out of the water.

For such a small set up fee these three components will help to begin your new yoga lifestyle:

  1. Your yoga mat
  2. Consistency
  3. An online or studio class

When you roll out your yoga mat, it’s like you’re affirming to the universe that this is your personal space to connect with yourself.
Functionally, mats are helpful for certain poses so your hands and feet don’t slip.

Creating time in your day and life for yoga is challenging. However, once you begin to feel and see the differences you will re-align your habits and priorities to make sure it’s part of your routine, much like you’ve probably done with surfing. When working on new skills it’s well documented the key to success is repetition, so the more you are able to practice the better you will become. As with anything else, getting started is often the most challenging part.

If your needing an extra motivation and guidance then maybe an online class is a great place to start. Most people today are leading busy lives and a commitment to a class each week can be tough. This is where an online class comes in handy. They grant you access any time of the day, they are on demand, they are often cheaper than going to a studio, they offer a variety of practices and teachers, you can take it at your own pace, and do all of this in the comfort of your own home. Most online yoga classes let you have a free trial or an opt-out time period, so why not give a go and see if you enjoy it?

When you consider the health benefits and the improvements to your surfing is crazy not to start. So taking your cutback to the next level might just be a yoga class away. Yoga helps you surf better and stronger, it alleviates many of the sport’s aches and strains, it’s affordable to get started in some capacity, and it will improve your breathing, which leads to greater confidence in the water.

Okay, now I’m interested to know what are your favorite yoga tips?

Let me know in the comments below!

With love,


Editors note: You can learn more about the author on Instagram OmanuRetreats or their Surf & Yoga retreats


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