I co-host and teach yoga on Ben Wilson’s surf and kite trips on Namotu Island in Fiji. And although it’s great to do yoga to stretch and relax on these trips, a bit of preparation goes a long way to ensure you get the most out of your holiday. Many of our guests work hard all year, often behind a desk, then expect to go surfing and kiting for 6hrs every day for a week! No wonder they end up sore and tired.
I’ve created this 10 minute flowing yoga sequence that will strengthen and stretch all the areas we need most for watersports. Adding this to you daily routine in the weeks and months leading up to a trip will ensure your body is primed and ready. Because there’s nothing worse than being limited to short sessions when the surf is pumping on your holiday.
DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS FOR EACH POSE
WHY? Gently warms up the back, chest and shoulders to prepare for deeper stretches.
HOW? Start on all fours with the joints stacked – knees under hips, shoulders over wrists. Take a deep breath in and round the spine, looking toward the navel as you press the ground away with the hands, feeling a stretch between the shoulder blades.
On a long, smooth exhale, let you spine roll like a wave, lifting the tailbone and crown of the head towards the sky and pressing the chest forward between the shoulders.
Repeat 3-5 times to warm up you back and awaken your breath.
DOWNWARD DOG (ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA)
WHY? Strengthens arms & legs. Stretches back & hamstrings.
Activate the triceps to straighten the elbows and roll the shoulders outward, draw the shoulders away from ears. Arch the back slightly and turn on the abdominals to create a belly lock (bundah). Flex the hips and tilt the sit bones to sky, straightening the knees internally rotate the thighs. Press the heels towards the ground and look between the knees or thighs.
FORWARD FOLD (UTTANASANA)
WHY? Restorative, stretches back & hamstrings lightly
With the feet hip width apart, fold at the hips and rest belly on thighs. Relax your neck and let the weight of the head gently deepen the stretch.
WHY? Stretches the ankles so you can get low on your board and keep the feet connected throughout your turns. Also stretches the hips and back.
HOW? Sink your hips toward the heels keeping the feet as close as you can – take them as wide as you need to press the soles of the feet to the floor. If you can’t get your heels to the ground, place a book or folded mat underneath. Take your hands to prayer and use the elbows to push the knees further apart. Try to keep your back straight.
WHY? Strengthens shoulders, wrists, abdominals and quads.
HOW? From downward dog, take one foot toward the ceiling. As you exhale, draw the knee toward the chin, curving your back and bringing the shoulders to stack above the wrists. Hold here for as long as you can. You may wish to drop the back knee to soften the pose.
HIGH PLANK (KUMBHAKASANA)
WHY? Strengthen wrists, arms, shoulders, back and abdominals
HOW? Stack the joints – shoulders/elbows over wrists. Spread weight evenly across palm and fingers, do not dump into heel of palms. Ensure your back is straight and don’t allow your hips to dip towards the ground. If they do, drop to your knees. Engage the core and quadriceps to keep the legs strong and stable as you lower and hold.
CRESENT LUNGE WITH EAGLE ARMS (ANJANEYASANA GARUDASANA)
WHY? Strengthens legs and back while stretching the hip flexors. Eagle arms stretches around the shoulder blades.
HOW? Step one foot forward between the hands and sweep the arms up over the head, staying on the ball of the back foot. Without letting the front knee move in front of the ankle, sink down and stretch through the front of the hip. Wrap one arm under the other and if available, bring the palms together. Adjust the stretch as you need by lifting or lowering the elbows.
LOW PLANK (CHATURANGA DANDASANA)
WHY? Total body exercise, particularly targeting the chest, triceps, abdominals
HOW? Keep the elbows close to the body. Legs straight and strong OR drop to your knees. Tailbone tucked and pelvis stable (not rising up or sinking down). Shoulders rolling back and away from ears.
WHY? Opens chest, tones extensors on back, strengthens upper body, light backbend.
HOW? With your hands planted on the ground underneath your shoulders, press the shoulders up and draw them back so the shoulder blades hug toward the midline. Turn on the glutes to stabilise the pelvis and tilt it downward. Press the pubic bone and tops of the feet into the ground and lift knees off ground. Look forward.
WARRIOR II (VIRABHADRASANA)
WHY? Strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles, groin, chest and shoulders
HOW? With the front foot facing forward, knee bent and thigh parallel (or something like that) to the floor, press the ball of the foot into the ground. Keep the back leg straight and foot facing around 45’, its outer edge pressing into the ground. Draw the muscles up the leg and keep both legs strong.
Lift up through the spine, tucking the tailbone under and drawing the belly towards the spine. Ensure the shoulders are sitting directly above the thighs and open the chest. Stretch the arms out in either direction, gazing over the front middle finger. Let the shoulder blades slide down the back and ensure the front knee is moving towards the little toe.
REVERSE WARRIOR (VIPARITA VIRABHADRASANA)
WHY? Provides an additional stretch to the side of the torso and lats (get really tight from paddling)
HOW? From Warrior II, as you breath in, reach the front hand toward the sky and follow it with your gaze. Reach up and hold for 2-3 breaths while keeping your legs in Warrior II position.
SHOULDER STRETCH (ARDHA GOMUKASANA)
WHY? Stretches triceps and shoulders
HOW? From Warrior II, take the front arm and reach it toward the sky with the torso in neutral (not reaching backwards or forwards). Bend at the elbow and reach your fingers between the shoulder blades. Gently use your other hand to deepen and control the stretch.
PYRAMID POSE (PARSVOTTANASANA)
WHY? Stretches hamstrings and back.
HOW? Take a short stance with one foot facing directly forward at the front of your mat and the other around 2 foot lengths back. The feet should not be in line, rather hip width apart so you can point the hips straight forwards. When the hips are facing the front and both feet are firmly planted on the ground, fold at the hips and reach your chest toward your front foot. Keep the hips aligned and hold for 5-10 breaths.
SPHINX (SALAMBA BHUJANGASANA)
WHY? Opens and stretches chest, abdominals and upper back. Strengthens back and shoulders.
HOW? Lying on your stomach, take the elbows under the shoulders and lift the chest off the floor. Press the tops of the feet and pubic bone to the ground and engage the glutes. Start to press the shoulders down away from the ears and draw the shoulder blades towards the midline. Hold for 3-5 breaths, staying firm through legs, shoulders and glutes.
WHY? Strengthens extensors on the back and shoulders. Stretches back.
HOW? Lying on your stomach, press the pubic bone to the floor and squeeze the glutes, drawing the tailbone towards the feet. Start to peel the shoulders from the ground and reach the hands back towards the feet. You may lift the feet and legs or keep them grounded. Hold for 3-5 breaths and repeat.
WHY? Opens and stretches chest, shoulders and back. Strengthens back extensors.
HOW? First decide whether this pose is going to suit you. If your back felt uncomfortable in locust, skip this one.
Lying on your stomach, bend the knees (you can allow them to go wider than hip width distance) and grab the feet or ankles. Squeeze the glutes and start to kick the feet up and back, stretching the shoulders. Use the muscles on your back and your legs to go higher.
CHILDS POSE (BALASANA)
WHY? Stretches back, hips and allows abdominals and organs to relax.
HOW? From bow pose or locust, very slowly press your hips back toward the heels. You can take the knees apart or keep them together. Let your forehead rest on the ground or the back of your hands. Hold for 10 breaths.
PUPPY (UTTANA SHISOHSANA)
WHY? Stretches back and shoulders, especially lats which get tight from paddling or holding your kite bar). I like to make this pose more of a shoulder stretch than the traditional variation. See what you think.
HOW? From childs pose, stack the knees under the hips and reach hands forward letting the chest sink toward the ground. Look towards the hands.