Welcome to the fourth article on Yoga for Surfing. We are going to look at a few postures which will help you to open up the hips. Opening up the hips is key to improving your surfing. Increasing your range of movement in the hip area will help to prevent injury, increase your balance and increase mobility through your turns.
As you move through the below or any postures, please be aware of your limitations and work to a level that is available to you. I always recommend practicing yoga under the guidance of a teacher if you can and if you are in any doubt whether these poses are appropriate for you, consult your local yoga teacher, 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.
It’s best not to dive straight into your hip openers. It is really important to build some heat through the body first. At the end of article, 4 Yoga Poses to Muscle Up Your Turns, we look at how to flow poses together, you can also use this flow to warm up the body if you are not familiar with Surya Namaskar A or B (Sun Salutations). In short: Starting in Downward Facing Dog, exhale release through a High Plank into Four Limbed Staff Pose, inhale and sweep up into Upward Facing Dog and exhale into Downward Facing Dog. Take 5 breaths here and repeat until you start to feel an internal heat resonate through the body.
Using the articles, if you have started to put together your own sequence, I would recommend slotting in hip openers towards the end of your sequence to allow for the body to be as open as possible, allowing you to release deeper into the stretch.
Pose 1 – Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II)
• Opens and strengthens the hips, legs and ankles
• Stretches the groin, chest and shoulders
• Increases stamina
• Helps to relieve backache
1. Standing at the front of your mat, with an exhalation step your left foot back over a leg length apart. Align your feet, heels aligned, left foot heel points very slightly away from the body and toes draw in towards the body. Right foot toes face directly forward to the short edge of the mat.
2. Become strong in the thighs, actively drawing the thighs back towards the buttocks. Ensure the right knee is in line with the right foot.
3. Inhale, drawing the arms to shoulder height, reach through the fingertips. Ensure the shoulders are directly above the hips.
4. Exhale, come into the front knee bend. Ensure the knee stays directly above or behind the ankle, the shin should be perpendicular to the floor.
5. Turn the head to the right and gaze towards the fingertips.
6. Hold for up to 30 seconds. Inhale draw up, lifting out of the front knee bend. Reverse the feet and repeat.
Pose 2: Utthan Pristhasana Variation (Lizard Pose Variation)
• Opens and stretches the hips and groin
• Lengthens the spine
1. Starting in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog – described in: http://magicseaweed.com/news/5-yoga-poses-every-surfer-should-know/6307/) draw your left foot forward to the outside of the left hand next to the little toe.
2. You can either stay here, in a deep lunge opening up the hip.
3. Or if you are comfortable roll onto the little toe edge of the foot allowing the knee to drop out to the side.
4. From here, maintaining a flat back, release down onto your forearms.
5. Keep pushing through the heel of the lengthened leg.
6. Work with your exhale to release deeper into the pose. Hold for up to 30 seconds.
You can modify the pose by bringing your back knee down or placing your forearms on a block/pile of books.
Pose 3: Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
• Opens and stretches the hips and groin
1. Sitting on the mat, if needed lift your pelvis on a block or blanket to increase the forward tilt of the pelvis.
2. Exhale and bend your knees drawing the soles of the feet together so the knees drop out to the sides.
3. Draw the heels of the feet close to your pelvis and take a gentle hold of the arches of the feet.
4. Draw the shoulders back and allow the chest to come forward, lift from the crown of the head, lengthening the spine.
5. Close your eyes and focus on working with the exhale to encourage the head of the thighs to release, the knees will follow.
6. You can enjoy working in this pose from 1 minute to 5 minutes. When you are ready to come out of the pose, inhale and draw your knees together, finally extend the legs in front of you.
PLUS - you can always add into your routine, Eka Pada Rajakapotasana – One Legged King Pigeon Pose (described in 5 Yoga Poses Every Surfer Should Know and/or Virabhadrasana I - Warrior I (described in: 4 Yoga Poses to Muscle Up Your Turns) both awesome hip openers.
Lastly a big thank you to everyone for reading these articles and I really hope you are all finding them useful in your quest to stretch out and open up 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. Emma also teaches SUP Yoga in Devon throughout the summer, so you never have to be off the water. You can follow Hang Ten on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Check back soon for more.