Yoga + Surfing

courtesy of Misty Michelle Photography

One of the questions we get a lot is, “What do I need to do to prepare for Bikram yoga?”. The first answer you’ll typically hear is to hydrate! But if you really think about who’s practicing bikram yoga you’ll find that they’re typically people who are preparing for something else. From olympic soccer players to NBA basketball, athletes in all forms use Bikram to increase balance, flexibility, strength, endurance, and muscle healing. I wanted to hear from one of these athletes so I asked a good friend and career surfer to talk a little about how Bikram helps him. Here’s what he had say:

As a surfer for 15 years and a yoga instructor, I believe yoga and surfing go hand in hand. When you think about it, surfing is 60% paddling, 35% waiting, and 5% surfing.

Spending most of the time paddling, spine strength becomes the number one factor. Keeping the lower body solid, and lifting and holding the upper body in an arched position while using shoulder muscles to paddle. In the Bikram Yoga series the spine strengthening series Cobra, Locust, Full Locust, and Bow incorporate the fundamentals of what paddling a surf board consist of.

Waiting and watching for the sets to come far off on the horizon, this is where meditation comes into play. A surfer needs to have the ability to focus to the horizon and have a long attention span in order to spot an incoming set. Not only will this give you the competitive edge, but also in large surf it can mean survival. Bikram Yoga increases the mind’s ability to focus on point, concentrate, meditate and breath. Keeping the mind calm in the ocean lowers the heart rate, allows for deeper calmer breaths resulting in higher oxygen levels in the blood stream so that if and when you get caught by a cleanup set, the ability to hold breath for long periods of time is greater. If the mind feels anxiety, it’s starving the body of oxygen.

When surfing, the amount of time spent actually balancing on the board is relatively short but by taking Bikram Yoga, minutes are spent balancing on one leg which increases a persons awareness of balance, and trains muscles that are otherwise seldom used. The balancing series; Standing Head to Knee, Standing Bow, and Balancing Stick Pose, all increase a persons ability to balance.

Thanks, Jason, for the article! If you are an athlete and would like to share your story… leave a comment below or email me and let us know you’d like to be a guest blogger!

2 thoughts on “Yoga + Surfing

  1. Great post! As a former professional figure skater, I learned the benefits of cross-training years ago. I actually started Bikram about a month ago to increase my flexibility for Argentine Tango, which I do for fun socially (along with Salsa, West Coast Swing, Hustle, and a few more). As Jason noted, there are many benefits beyond increased flexibility and, personally, I’m seeing so many of the same results he’s described. Love my Bikram practice!

  2. Great blog….I help run a surf/SUP company and unquestionably I feel like the more I come to class, the more it shows in my abilities paddling or surfing. There’s also a total parallel in that you are alone-with people in both activities….There is a community, but both are largely individual and introspective/internal sports….The community, combined with my love of the ocean, was what brought me into surfing, and similarly, the practice, but then somewhat equaled and on some days outweighed by the community is what has me committed to Marina Bikram Yoga!

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