Yoga Poses Tailored to Surfers

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Yoga Poses Tailored to Surfers

In this article I describe why yoga is beneficial for surfers along with some essential yoga poses that will help surfer and windsurfers alike. With numerous styles of yoga, I would like to highlight that it's not always the case that one yoga style is superior to another; rather, it's about practicing the appropriate form that helps you progress. In my book, Yoga For Surfers, I tailor yoga to the goals and needs of surfers, incorporating functional poses designed to advance your skills both on your board and in the water.

Improving Your Surfing Performance

Yoga enhances your body awareness, thereby boosting your surfing performance. With refined body awareness, you gain increased control over your muscles, joints, and body movements. Engaging in a yoga session reconnects you with your body, providing a sense of being present within it. Each session is like an exploration into your body: allowing you to recognize areas of tension, stiffness, injuries, suppleness, and freedom of movement from within. This self-awareness proves helpful on your surfboard, allowing you to use this knowledge effectively.

Enhancing Body Awareness

Self-awareness is essential when learning anything. To improve, you must identify areas that require adjustment. Mastering a trick on the water requires repetitive practice, with each repetition aimed at improving the technique. Consistently making the same mistakes allows for progress, highlighting the importance of body awareness. By feeling where adjustments are needed within your body, you can adjust your technique with each attempt.

Muscle Engagement

Yoga offers an opportunity to engage muscles and perform movements that are often underutilized or neglected during surfing. This holistic approach addresses the entirety of your body, promoting overall development. Muscles frequently used in a repetitive manner while surfing, such as those in the lower back, can become excessively contracted. Yoga provides a platform to lengthen and stretch these muscles, counteracting the imbalances caused by prolonged surfing stances.

Chair pose variation (utkatasana)

  1. Begin by placing both feet directly under your hips.
  2. Inhale as you bring your arms up sideways, extending them past your ears.
  3. Lengthen your back, and as you exhale, bend both knees.
  4. Lift your heels off the ground and balance on your toes.
  5. Maintain focus on a single point (dhristi) and breathe steadily, remain standing for as long as possible to strengthen your leg muscles and enhance your sense of balance.

Why is this pose beneficial for surfers? Surfers require strong leg muscles to absorb impact when executing jumps (tricks) on the water. Additionally, the constant need to propel the board and adjust to changing waves demands considerable leg strength. This variation not only strengthens leg muscles but also improves balance and enhances foot strength and flexibility, particularly beneficial for those who frequently use footstraps while sailing.

Dolphin pose (ardha pincha mayurasana)

  1. Begin on your hands and knees on the mat.
  2. Position your elbows directly under your shoulders with your forearms resting flat on the mat.
  3. Push yourself diagonally backward, focusing on extending your sternum towards your toes; your heels don’t need to touch the mat.
  4. Allow your head to hang freely, relaxing your neck while feeling the strength in your back and arms.

Why is this pose beneficial for surfers? Windsurfers often adopt a rounded upper back posture when hooked into the trapeze ropes, with the core pulling backward and the arms extending forward to grasp the boom, resulting in a convex curvature of the upper back. Dolphin Pose serves as a complementary movement, counteracting the effects of windsurfing by promoting an opposite posture. This alternating movement helps maintain body and muscle mobility, preventing stiffness after prolonged windsurfing sessions.

Cow-face pose variation (gomukhasana)

  1. Stand upright and extend both arms forward.
  2. Pass your right arm under your left.
  3. Hook your elbows and forearms together.
  4. Inhale as you bring both arms up, then exhale as you lower them, repeating the movement seven times.
  5. Extend your left arm outward and twist your torso to the right.
  6. Use your lower (right) arm as a hook to deepen the twist, providing an extra stretch to the shoulder blade.
  7. Look over your right shoulder.

Why is this pose beneficial for surfers? Wave surfers often experience stiffness in the upper back due to paddling. This posture helps restore flexibility to the upper back, enabling smoother arm movement during paddling. Increased flexibility in the upper back and shoulders facilitates powerful paddling, aiding in navigating through waves and currents. Additionally, for winging, where shoulder movement is crucial for control, this pose enhances freedom of movement, allowing for more agile control of the wing in all directions.

High plank variation (kumbhakasana)

  1. Begin by standing in a high plank position, ensuring that your wrists are directly beneath your shoulders and your core is engaged while maintaining pelvic alignment
  2. Next, lift your left leg to hip height and extend your right arm to shoulder level. Focus your gaze on a single point, finding balance and breathing steadily.
  3. Hold this position for approximately seven breaths.

Why is this pose beneficial for surfers? Core strength is paramount for surfers, as the sport can be physically demanding and often leads to back issues due to prolonged hours on the water in challenging conditions. Strengthening the core helps prevent, reduce, or recover from back pain. Additionally, this pose aids in strengthening the shoulder joint by providing compression, crucial for managing the demands of activities like wing or kite surfing that require significant shoulder mobility. Moreover, it enhances wrist strength, which is vital for executing efficient pop-ups while wave surfing.

About Bellatrix: 

Bellatrix van Wingerden is a dedicated yoga teacher and avid surfer from the Netherlands. She discovered yoga at 19, began teaching at 25, and wrote the book Yoga For Surfers in 2021. Through continuous training and education, she has integrated yoga into her life and passion for surfing, seeing both as avenues for constant growth and self-improvement.

Visit her yoga studio in Ouddorp, the Netherlands at and read her Manduka Yoga Studio Spotlight here

The book, Yoga For Surfers, is currently available in Dutch and can be found on or follow along on Instagram @yoga.forsurfers

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