Freelance Journalist/Yoga Instructor
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upward facing dog andy kovsun

All photos by @Mxmsurfphotos and appearing originally on No Shoes No Worries.


The Inertia

Enjoying all that time in the water but feeling sore the next day? Or maybe you’re sitting at a computer for long hours, kicking goals at the expense of tight hips and hunched shoulders?

The hours you clock paddling, bottom turning, duck diving, (or maybe just sitting at your desk hunched over your computer), tend to put a lot of pressure in the shoulders, hips, quads, lower and upper back. (A.k.a areas surfers are notoriously tight in.)

Stretching before and after a session is an essential part of your surf routine. Increasing mobility and flexibility in key areas will prevent injuries that could potentially keep you out of the water

Give these five poses a try next time you’re feeling particularly sore after a surf session. Grab your yoga mat, some chilled tunes, and zone into your breath and how you’re feeling.

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Give each pose about five to ten breaths. Your muscles will send you a thank you note.

1. Half Pigeon

Stretches: Hips and glutes

From a downward dog, bring your right knee to your right wrist, right foot to left hip (Just imagine your leg is doing a figure “7” shape. Place a block under your right sitting bone if it’s too far off the mat.) Keep your right foot activated in this pose, and try to lengthen your torso forward towards the top of the mat as you exhale (think: Heart towards the toes!). Keep your hips square as best as you can. This pose may seem a bit intense to get into at first, so a modified version (and just as effective) is to lie on your back and cross your right ankle on top of your left knee, then thread your hand through your legs and grab hold of the back of your left thigh or shin. Whatever pose you choose, keep your foot flexed towards your face to protect your knee and ankle joint. Stay five to ten breaths then switch sides.

2. Extended Triangle Pose

Stretches: Side body, chest, shoulders, hamstrings, calves, hips and groin.

From a wide-legged stance with your feet parallel to one another, turn your front foot towards the top of the mat, so your toes are facing forward, and keep your back foot flat on the mat, with the outer seam of the foot pressing down firmly. Reach your arms out as if in warrior II, but keep your legs straight and slide your hips back towards your back leg. Reach forward with your front fingertips and start to lengthen your side body as you exhale, slowly reaching down to your ankles, a block or the ground. Start to open your heart and top arm up toward the ceiling, twisting from your torso. You should be feeling the stretch in the hamstring of your front leg and side body as your top hand is reaching up towards the ceiling and your feet are pressing firmly down into the mat. Hold for five breaths and switch sides.

3. Twisted Runner’s Lunge
Stretches: Quads, front hips, shoulders.

Runner’s lunge is a popular stretch with athletes since it targets the muscles that are most engaged when running, jumping or squatting. Another great hip opener, the runner’s lunge can double as a quad stretch if you choose to twist and grab hold of your back foot, or simply keep your back knee off the mat.

From a plank position, bring your right foot to the outside of your right hand and come onto the knife edge of your foot. Drop your back knee to the floor and from there start to lean into your hips. If this feels like enough of a stretch, then stay for five to ten breaths. To intensify and add in a quad stretch, twist to your right, grab hold of your left foot with your right hand. Start to gently pull your foot towards your glutes, being mindful of any pain or discomfort (always listen to your body and come out of a pose if it feels wrong!). Switch over to the other side.

4. Cow Face Pose With Eagle Arms
Stretches: Outer hips, glutes, upper back, triceps.

Cow face (or shoelace pose) can be quiet tricky if you are tight in the hips. It’s important not to force anything that doesn’t feel accessible in this pose, as it requires great mobility and flexibility in the hips and glutes. In a seated position, bring your right knee to stack on top of your left, with your sitting bones even on the ground. If the knees don’t align, simply extend the bottom leg out in front of you, or stagger your knees away from each other (They do not have to be directly on top of one another for you to feel this stretch). To add in the arm stretch, bring your right arm under your left, and wrap them around each other. Elbows are in line with your chin so you can feel the stretch in the rhomboids and upper back, as well as your triceps and arms. Hold five to ten breaths before switching over to the left side with your legs and arms.

Wide-Legged Forward Fold
Stretches: Hips, inner thighs, hamstrings, calves

Bring your feet into a wide stance on either side of your mat, about a foot wider than hip-width apart, or whatever is comfortable for you. Make sure your toes are facing towards each other, with your heels facing out. Hands on your hips, start to hinge forward at the waist, bowing forward until your hands and head are on the mat, or bring your hands to a block. You can widen your stance as necessary. Take five to ten breaths in this pose. Bonus: it also doubles as a great inner thigh and hamstring stretch, and if you interlace your hands behind your back, it’ll open up your shoulders!

This piece was originally published on No Shoes, No Worries. Check out more from Andy there or at @noshoesnoworries.