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4 Yoga Poses to Muscle Up Your Turns

by on Thursday 1st May, 2014   28745 Visits   Comments

Increasing torso mobility and strength is a sure fire way to muscle up your snaps, hacks and laybacks. The yoga poses I am going to take you through focus on just that: torso rotation, whole body mobility, strengthening the back, shoulders, arms, core, legs, and as a bonus keep us opening the chest and hips. Soon you’ll throwing buckets like Taylor Knox.

Once again I will be taking you through why these poses will help your surfing and which areas of the body we are targeting, plus how to go about practising these poses. Before giving these poses a try please be aware of your own body and any injuries you might have. We recommend hunting down a yoga class near you and practising under the guidance of a teacher. These poses will be difficult for some and easily accessible for others. If you are in any doubt whether you should be working with these poses please seek the advice of your local yoga teacher to avoid a trip to your doctor or physiotherapist.

Reminder, breathing technique – Sitting on your mat or the floor, inhale into the rib cage, expanding the chest. As you exhale draw your belly in. Focus on the breath whilst working in the postures; try not to hold your breath, move with your breath.

Pose 1: Virabhadrasana 1 - Warrior 1

Why?
• Opens the chest and shoulders. Stretches the front of the torso and psoas.
• Strengthens the shoulders, arms, core and back.
• Strengthens and stretches quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and ankles.

How?
1. Start in Adho Mukha Svanasana (full description in article 1: 5 Yoga Poses Every Surfer Should Know).
2. Take an inhale and as you exhale draw the right knee tight into the chest, and release the foot to the floor in between the hands. Ensure the knee is directly over the ankle.
3. Release the left heel (back foot) down onto the mat. Inhale and with a strong back come up to standing. Lift out of the front knee bend.
4. Turn your focus on your alignment. Align both heels, turn the left heel out slightly, toes pointing in, and the right foot to be at 90 degrees.
5. Square your pelvis as much as possible with the front edge of your mat. Lift and lengthen the spine and allow the upper torso to arch back slightly.
6. Inhale and draw both arms straight up, reaching to the sky through the little fingers, lifting out of the ribcage.
7. Exhale and bend into your right knee, do not allow the knee to extend beyond the ankle, the shin is perpendicular to the floor.
8. Keep the back foot grounding into the floor, and keep the head in a neutral position gazing forward.
9. Stay in the pose for 30 seconds, then inhale and straighten the right knee. Exhale and release the arms. Reverse the feet and repeat on the other side.

Pose 2: Utthita Parsvakonasana – Extended Side Angle Pose

Why?
• Stretches and strengthens the knees, ankles and legs increasing power
• Opens and stretches the hips, chest and shoulders, lengthens the spine
• Helps to increase stamina

How?
1. Start in Adho Mukha Svanasana (full description in article 1: 5 Yoga Poses Every Surfer Should Know)
2. Take an inhale and as you exhale draw the right knee tight into the chest, then release the foot to the floor in between the hands. Ensure the knee is directly over the ankle.
3. Release the left heel (back foot) down onto the mat. Inhale and with a strong back come up to standing. Lift out of the front knee bend.
4. Take your focus to your alignment, align both heels, turn the left heel out slightly toes pointing in, and the right foot to be at 90 degrees. Pelvis to face the long edge of the mat.
5. Inhale, lift and extend your arms to shoulder height. Exhale come into the front knee bend, ensuring your shin is perpendicular to the floor.
6. Draw your right thigh outward, so the kneecap is in line with the ankle. Allow the left hip to roll in very slightly but maintain your torso rotation to the left.
7. Inhale and lengthen the body, movement comes from the ribcage, over the right thigh. Exhale, drop the right forearm to thigh, and inhale extending the left arm overhead, palm facing down, extending through the little finger side of the hand to open up the ribcage.
8. Focus on keeping the left shoulder drawn back.
9. Head to stay neutral, to face the floor or to turn up to the sky. Do not strain the neck.
10. Stay here for a good few breaths. Inhale, centre the torso over the bent leg, and with a strong back come up to standing. Reverse the feet and take the posture starting from stage 4.

If you are confident in this pose you can move to Parivrtta Parsvakonasana – Revolving Lateral Angle Pose, increasing torso rotation and maintaining strength.

Pose 3: Parivrtta Parsvakonasana – Revolving Lateral Angle Pose


Why?
• Stretches and strengthens the knees, ankles and legs increasing power
• Opens the body, hips, chest, shoulders, back and lengthens the spine
• Helps to increase stamina
• Increases torso rotation

How?
1. From Adho Mukha Svanasana (full description in article 1: 5 Yoga Poses Every Surfer Should Know), take an inhale and as you exhale draw the right knee tight into the chest and release the foot to the floor in between the hands. Ensure the knee is directly over the ankle. (You can also enter this pose from stage 10 of the previous pose Utthita Parsvakonasana).
2. Release the left heel (back foot) down onto the mat and take your focus to your alignment. Align both heels, turn the left heel out slightly toes pointing in, and the right foot to be at 90 degrees.
3. There are options here; you can either take the left forearm and place on the right thigh, fingertips facing to the right, or your palm/fingertips can come over the right thigh onto the mat, to the right side of the right foot. Keeping the right knee rotating out, allow the torso to lie over the thigh. If your hips or hamstrings are stopping you from reaching the pose, you can lift up onto the toes of the back foot.
4. Once stable, inhale and extend the right arm up to the sky, lengthening through the little finger side of the hand.
5. Your head can stay neutral, gaze down or gaze can come up towards the sky. Please do not put any pressure into the neck, find where is comfortable for you.
6. Hold for a good few breaths, inhale, centre the torso over the bent leg, and with a strong back come up to standing. Reverse the feet and take the posture starting from stage 2.

Pose 4: Parivrtta Utkatasana – Revolved Chair Pose

Why?
• Opens the chest, shoulders and upper back, increasing torso mobility.
• Strengthens the core, hip flexors, thighs, inner thighs, gluteus muscles of the hip, calf’s and ankles.
• Improves mobility in the ankle.

How?
1. Come to standing with your feet either together with the big toes touching, or hip width apart.
2. Inhale and lift your arms above your head, finger tips pointing towards the sky. As you exhale bend deeply into the knees, coming into a chair position. Keep the knees directly over the centre of the ankles; do not allow the knees roll in.
3. Keeping your hips and knees centred and still, take your left forearm to above your right knee and lift your right arm directly up to the sky. Ensure you are twisting and opening from the ribcage and shoulders, not the hips.
4. Your gaze can come forward, or up towards the sky. Please do not strain the neck. Find where is comfortable for you.
5. With each exhale draw your shoulder blades together and encourage the body to twist, leading from the shoulder.
6. Hold for a good few breaths, exhale out of the twist and as you inhale lift out of the chair position. Repeat on the other side.

If you are feeling confident in these individual poses, you can flow these together forming a sequence, increasing strength and full body mobility.

How?
1. Start in Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog (full description in article 1: 5 Yoga Poses Every Surfer Should Know).

2. Inhale and lengthen the body into a high plank, push through the heels and lift through the crown of the head, imagining the spine lengthening.

3. Exhale and release slowly into Chaturanga Dandasana – Four Limbed Staff Pose. Keeping the elbows close in towards the body, pushing back into the heels, keeping space between the shoulder blades and not allowing the back to sway. Hold a few inches above the floor if you can.

4. Inhale and sweep up into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana – Upward Facing Dog (if you are prone to any lower back problems take this pose very gently, keeping the elbows bent and the legs slightly parted). If you have a healthy back, straighten the arms keeping the torso lifted and the legs a few inches off the floor. Keep the thighs strong and draw the pelvis forward. Bring your gaze straight ahead. Be careful not to compress the back of the neck or strain the throat.

5. Exhale and draw the tailbone to the sky, pushing back into Downward Facing Dog. Keep a strong back. If you have any injury or sensitivity in the back come onto the knees from Upward Facing Dog and push back from the knees into Downward Facing Dog.

6. Between each pose you can use this flow to keep the body and breath working together. At the end of each pose, step back into Downward Facing Dog and enter this flow, return to Downward Facing Dog and enter into the next pose.

The described poses, both individually and in sequence, are brilliant for creating and building strength across the whole body and increasing torso rotation and mobility. Prior to practising these poses, or any Yoga poses, work up a little heat in the body. Remember to use the breath, inhale and as you exhale allow the body to release further into the stretch. Take your time, move with the breath and learn from your body. If you are noticeably tight on one side more than the other, you can apply the asymmetrical guiding principle; repeat the pose one more time on the side which was the tightest. This will help to rebalance the body.

Emma Lovick from Hang Ten Yoga is a certified instructor and specialises in teaching Yoga to surfers in South Devon. She looks closely at the breath, alignment, strengthening, opening and increased flexibility, reducing the potential for injury. You can follow Hang Ten on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Check back soon for Opening Up the Shoulders.

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