Nicaragua is an amazing destination for Yogis and Surfers. Sam Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua is home of The Nicaragua Yoga Institute, the leading yoga retreat center in Central America, Zen Yoga Studio, the first Yoga Studio in San Juan Del Sur, as well as Chica Brava, one of the worlds top women’s surf camps.
Yoga is the ultimate exercise for balance, strength, and focus for surfing. In fact, many professional surfers such as Kelly Slater and Gerry Lopez practice yoga daily and make it a routine before and after every surf session. It is especially important for beginner and experienced surfers alike.
Yoga helps build flexibility, generate core strength and mental awareness. A solid core and balance are key for beginner surfers. Yoga empowers surfers to also focus on the breath, both on your mat and your surfboard.
Whether this is your first Yoga Retreat or you are just new to surfing or an experienced wave rider, adding these 4 poses to your yoga routine will help you pop up and stay up on your board for tons of fun when we hit the areas best beach breaks.
At the Nicaragua Yoga Institute we also hit the world’s most vibrant volcanoes for some empowering vinassa, the perfect place to practice your goddess pose amongst the ancient lava flows.
Surfing is all about leg strength. Start standing, separate your feet approximately distance of length of one of your legs. You can turn your feet out to a comfortable degree, usually 45 degrees is comfortable. Raise your arms out straight from your shoulders and bend them at your elbows to form a 90 degree angle. Have your palms facing forward and fingers energized and extended. Start to slowly bend your knees until they also reach a 90 degree angle and hold the pose.
Be very careful as you bend your knees that they do not knock inward. Be sure that your knees always track directly over your toes, even if that means modifying the angle your feet. This is so important to build the correct strength in the legs and to protect the very vulnerable knee joint. Yoga Pose one accomplished!
Now lets move onto Warrior Two Pose, which brings balance and strong core stability to your surfing skill sets. Step your feet wide apart and raise your arms up to shoulder height. Your wrists should line up over your ankles. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees and turn your left foot perpendicular to the right. Inhale, engage your core and exhale bend into the right knee. From Warrior II pose (with right knee bent), bring the right elbow down to the right knee and inhale the left arm up towards the ceiling and then exhale the arm over the ear, making a straight line with the left side of your body.
Keep the right knee bent directly over the ankle, sink the hips down towards the floor, and reach the left fingers away from the left foot. Breathe and hold for 2-5 breaths. To release: inhale and reach the left fingers up and back into warrior II or straighten the legs coming into 5 pointed star. Repeat on other side. This will also help your frontside and backside wave ride balance.
Plank is an excellent pose for gaining surfing strength and stability in your core and your shoulders. This will help you build the power for your pop-ups (surf-ese for getting on your feet). Begin on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly under your shoulders. Breathe smoothly and evenly through your nose. Bring your thoughts to focus on the present moment. Spread your fingers and press down through your forearms and hands. Do not let your chest collapse. Gaze down between your hands, lengthening the back of your neck and drawing your abdominal muscles toward your spine. Tuck your toes and step back with your feet, bringing your body and head into one straight line.
Keep your thighs lifted and take care not to let your hips sink too low. If your butt sticks up in the air, realign your body so your shoulders are directly above your wrists. Draw your pelvic floor muscles toward your spine as you contract your abdominal muscles. Keep your head in line with your spine. Broaden across your shoulder blades and across your collarbones. Draw down through the bases of your index fingers — do not let your hands roll open toward the pinkie fingers.
Press the front of your thighs (quadriceps) up toward the ceiling while lengthening your tailbone toward your heels. Hold the pose while breathing smoothly for five breaths. If you are using the pose to build strength and stamina, hold for up to five minutes.
Lie on your belly and place your hands right under your shoulders. Your legs are either together with the ankles touching or hips-distance apart. Lengthen your buttocks toward your heels and extend and reach through your legs and spread your toes. Inhale and, on an exhale, press the pelvis down and lift your hands, chest and feet off the ground. Lift with the whole of the spine not just from the back of your neck and keep the legs active and strong.
This will help keep space in your lower back and keep you from compressing and jamming up the lower back. Try coming up and down for 3 rounds on your breath. Inhale up, exhale to lower and, on the 3rd round, hold the lifted posture for more breaths. As you are on your board waiting for the right wave, you will need to build up your lower back strength, especially when you paddle to catch a wave and get your chest forward off the board for those deep strokes.
The benefits that yoga can have on surfers are pretty far-reaching. Whether it’s through strength, flexibility, or simply just breathing better—all these things are highly important in surfing.
After spending more than four decades studying the ancient Indian practice, Gerry Lopez is as qualified as they get when it comes to discussing yoga’s benefits for surfing.
I’ve been surfing for 55 years and I’m still learning. But I do know that if you can find your focus and clear your mind, you’ll progress more. That’s a part of the reason I think young people have such a higher success rate than older people in the sport. They’re able to clear their minds when they’re in the water. The older you get, the more your mind gets filled with all of the little things and it becomes increasingly hard to just focus on the moment and what’s in front of you. Back in the day at the Pipeline, if it got too loud and I couldn’t focus, I’d tell people “Hey, no talkin’ in the lineup.” When you’re surfing waves like that, you have to be tuned in.” – Gerry Lopez.