By Faye Martins
Yoga poses in their physical form and surfing are kindred activities. Much of what we do in Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa and Power Yoga complements surfing. For those of us who live in cooler climates, we have two surfing seasons: Surfing on the ocean during warm months and snowboarding down the side of a mountain during the cold months. Either way, asana, pranayama and meditation, are spices of life. Surfing is not for everyone, but it is another form of spice.
If you live on or near a beach, surfing is one of the quintessential summertime activities. Board surfing is a great summer activity that is incredibly fun and challenging. Water sports of all kinds afford us the opportunity to be out in the sun and on the water during the warmer months. Many avid surfers find that being out on the water and in nature helps them be in touch with the natural rhythms that surround us all the time. The sport of surfing is also quite challenging and helps to develop strength, coordination and a honed sense of balance.
There are a number of Yoga asanas that help to optimally prepare the body and mind for surfing. Strong abdominal muscles will help you to maneuver your board well, even in the roughest surf. Ashtanga Yoga offers a variety of transitional poses that help to strengthen core muscles, including jumping back into Plank Pose. Arm balancing postures, such as Handstand and Crow Pose, will also strengthen your core. Navasana or Boat Pose is a very effective seated Yoga asana for developing strong abdominal muscles.
Modified Boat Pose
Boat Pose is usually practiced toward the end of a Yoga session or class and prior to Final Relaxation Pose. It may also be practiced as a “stand alone” Yoga asana. To practice Modified Boat Pose, come to a supine position on your Yoga mat. With your next inhale; slowly raise your legs until they are perpendicular to your mat. Keep your feet together and your toes flexed. Extend your arms parallel to the floor at hip height with the palms of your hands facing away from you. Keep your fingers together and pointed towards the sky.
Hold this pose for 1-2 minutes. Pulsing gently with each exhale in order to increase the strengthening aspect of this Yoga asana. When you are ready to come out of the pose, with an exhale, slowly lower your feet back down to the Yoga mat and rest in Shavasana for several minutes. If you wish to increase the intensity of Modified Boat Pose, you may wish to incorporate a series of three to five slow, deliberate leg raises into the sequence prior to Final Relaxation Pose.
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