Strike a Pose: 6 Yoga Postures that Improve your Surfing

Whether you shred the gnar or gracefully glide across the face of a wave, it is common knowledge the best exercise for surfing is, well, surfing! However, out of the million billion workout trends found beneficial as a cross-training source, yoga often pops up onto almost every surfer’s radar one way or another. If you treat it like a workout (see “hot yoga sculpt”) or as a way to decompress, a yoga practice has something for everyone.

“For surfers, the focus is a lot of heart opening, arm and back strengthening postures,” said Tiffany Martin, Warrior One Wellness Owner and Yoga Instructor. “Surfers are often already in that halfway lift point, so in postures like Up-Dog or Baby Cobra, your legs and toes are still active, which are really important for balance, strengthening and back support.”

Legendary pro surfers like Gerry Lopez and Greg Long have long-since cultivated disciplined practices and, as a result, have improved their surfing and breathing techniques, according to a Surfer Magazine article “How To Save Your Surfing with Yoga.” In some instances, such as Long’s Cortes Bank wipe out, learning to calm the mind and holding breath under extreme duress are a few factors that can play lifesaving roles.

There are hundreds of yoga poses that can benefit your surfing. Customize at will!

Here are 6 yoga poses to get you started, courtesy of Tiffany Martin:

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1.) Chaturanga danda, a.k.a.: Low Plank

How: Bend your upper and lower arms 90 degrees at the elbows. Shoulders should not drop lower than the height of your elbows. Hold this pose for 30 seconds or more!

Benefits:

  • Strengthens arms and wrists
  • Tones abdominal muscles
  • Strengthens quads

2.) Urdhva mukha svana, a.k.a.: Upward Facing Dog

How: Start by lying face down on the floor with legs extended behind you, toes a few inches apart. Place hands next to your lower ribs. Inhale and press your hands into the floor, pushing your body upward. Firmly press down through the tops of your feet.

Benefits:

  • Strengthens the spine, arms and wrists
  • Stretches chest, shoulders and abdomen
  • Improves posture

3.) Bhujangasana, a.k.a.: Baby Cobra

How: Begin by lying on your belly, inhale and place elbows under your shoulders, forearms on the floor. Make sure your thighs are firm and point your toes behind you. Breath deep and feel the bend.

Benefits:

  • Stretches shoulder, chest and abdominal muscles
  • Decreases stiffness in the lower back
  • Strengthens arms and shoulders
  • Strengthens the spine
  • Elevates mood
  • Improves circulation of blood and oxygen

4.) Adho Mukha Svanasana, a.k.a.: Downward Facing Dog

How: Bend your knees, come to the balls of your feet. Bring your shins parallel to the mat and lift your sit bones high and back. Press hips towards the wall behind you and begin to straighten your legs. Remember to keep your head out of your shoulders and allow your shoulder blades to slide down your back.

Benefits:

  • Strengthens arms and legs
  • Stretches shoulders, hamstrings and calves
  • Lengthens spine
  • Energizes the body
  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress

5.) Paripurna Navasana, a.k.a.: Boat Pose

How: Sit on the floor with straight legs in front of you. Exhale slowly and lean back on your sit bones lifting your legs with knees bent off our the floor. Your thighs should be angled at 45 degrees. Hands can be held out in front of you or to the side. Remember to breath.

Benefits:

  • Strengthens abdominal muscles, hip flexors and spine
  • Stimulates kidneys and thyroid
  • Improves digestion

6.) Eka Pada Rajakapotasana , a.k.a.: Pigeon Pose

How: This pose is ideal to implement while you are in Down Dog.

From Down Dog, bring your right shin forward and down so that your right foot is in front of your left hip and your right shin is nearly parallel to the front edge of your mat. Flex your right foot. Stretch your left thigh back as you draw your left hip forward.

Lengthen your belly as you fold over your right leg. If your right hip does not easily reach the floor, place a folded blanket or block under your right sitting bone. Breathe deep and repeat on the other side.

“Hip-opening can help release the low back and the legs,” said Martin. “You can only get so open in the upper body if your hips are super tight, so that’s a needed balance for practice.”

Benefits:

  • Strengthens abdominal muscles, hip flexors and spine
  • Stimulates kidneys and thyroid
  • Improves digestion
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Yoga has become a popular pastime for many people across the nation and world. Check your local listings for classes in your area. Free classes are also available–a simple donation is usually requested at the end of class.

“I started a beach yoga class at Doheny state beach in Dana Point,” said Martin. “Come join me! It’s every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:15 a.m. and I also teach privately at my house studio.”

In addition to teaching at several local studios, Martin also developed Warrior One Wellness, a fitness company, where she hosts yoga sessions for different treatment centers, corporations, events and parties.

Click here for more information about Warrior One Wellness!

Yoga offers many health benefits for not only surfers, but also dancers, athletes and the mass populous in general. According to The Yoga Health Foundation, yoga can reduce cortisol levels, which contribute to stress and weight gain. Even a small amount of daily stretching can improve flexibility and blood flow, as well as decrease the potential for injury, said the Mayo Clinic.

Keep an open mind, remember to breathe through the hard parts and watch your physical and mental well-being transform over time.

Mauli Ola Foundation and friends hold ‘Surf Experience Day’ at Torquay Beach

Mauli Ola Beach Experience Day from STAB on Vimeo.

This incredible nonprofit organization is dedicated to providing hope to individuals living with genetic disease by introducing the ocean’s healing properties as a natural therapy through surfing and other ocean-related activities.

“What makes MOF so amazing is that it not only grants an opportunity for kids to get active, have fun, and build their confidence, but it also introduces the ocean as a natural form of therapy,” said Ambry Genetics Pediatric Product Manager and Mauli Ola contributor Christy Moore. “Hypertonic saline is a treatment for people with Cystic Fibrosis, and the best source for it, for people who are healthy enough, is the ocean!  Sometimes kids can even skip a treatment that day after being in the ocean.”

For more information about MOF and how to get involved, visit: mauliola.org

 

Patrolling the Dawn, Vol. 2

February 25, 2016 // Dana Point, California //

Off-shore winds lightly rattled my windows while crawling out of bed and rubbing my puffy eyes to the sound of a 5:30 a.m. alarm. My board was already tucked in my car the night before, just needed to throw my wetsuit in the trunk, in case I decided to actually paddle out into the forecasted huge surf. :)

The view from Strand’s parking lot made any question in my mind about paddling out a definitive ‘no.’ Large sets could be seen from the top of the stairs rolling through, lurching and then mercilessly pounding the sandbars.

Later that morning, for the first time in seven years, the 31st Annual Quiksilver Eddie Aikau big wave invitational was held at Waimea Bay on O’ahu’s North Shore.

I CONFESS: I’m so glad I brought my camera.

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How to Surf a Crowded Lineup

1.) Do your Homework

Thought you could escape class for a surf? Hahahahahahaha–No. If you are a newcomer/beginner/slacker, it’s good to study up on the actual break or else allow the locals to school you.

Hellllooo, homework!

And hey, we all learn in different ways! Just be sure to get a good understanding of “when the wave breaks here, don’t be there” concept and try to stay out of the impact zone. Often times perfection and hastiness will get the better of us and we charge out to the peak only to discover a side shore current that conveniently drops us off right where we don’t want to be.
Damn, there goes that Clif Bar.

In case it’s not totally obvious, ask yourself: Is it a point break, beach break or a reef? Where do you want to paddle out? Where is the impact zone? What waves are people avoiding and why? If you can stand it, take some time to chill on the sand and watch a few waves roll through before jumping in. Chances are there is a Surfline cam dedicated to that spot, so you’ve probably already watched it online, anyway.

2.) Patience, Young Skywalker

Patience, Keoni.

Once you paddle out, this is also a great opportunity to sit back, relax and observe the natural flow of the lineup. Try not to be pushy and paddle straight to the peak. Paddling out there like Billy Badass won’t score you waves unless you’re a pro…but most of the time, these guys are humble and kind when they paddle out any way. The peak is not a place for an undeserved sense of entitlement. Stow the ego.

Do not–I repeat–DO NOT snake, back-paddle or drop in on a local. That’s a great way to leave your wave count at 1 and local respect at 0.
No matter how popular or populated, always show respect for the people who have already put in their time at the break. But remember: much like they taught you in preschool, everyone gets a turn and you will get yours.
If you’re constantly getting snaked and this is your fourth or fifth visit to the spot, forget what I just wrote. (see ‘Tales of a Back paddling Player‘)

 

 

3.) An Attitude of Gratitude

Yea, you might not get the same amount of waves as you would from your usual spot at first, but showing appreciation towards the locals goes a looooong way

Getting stoked!

Remember how awesome it is to be a surfer! Think about the first time you ever paddled out and how excited or nervous you were and then think about the first wave you ever stood up on! Typically that will bring a smile to your face, right??

When the crowd grows to overwhelming proportions and your wave count is in the single digits, forget the small stuff and be thankful you have the capability to be out there in the first place. Didn’t we just celebrate Thanksgiving? ;)

:D :D :D :D :D

4.) Fight for Your Right

At Lower Trestles, anything is possible.

Just keep that Beastie Boys song in your head while you scour the lineup for a ride. If you’re a newbie, take what scraps you can get before working your way into the lion’s den. You gotta earn your stripes first, so get out there and take what you can! A little inside runner at Lowers

can sometimes be a better shaped wave than the peak, anyways! Some places are gold mines with elusive perfect peaks that sneak through the outside or swing wide from the peak. Those, to me, are fair game. Just be sure come prepared with a strong paddle game! Do those extra push-ups and keep that cardio in check because in a crowd, cardio is key.
Keep hunting grounds open for any opportunity to legitimately place yourself in a priority position and fight for that right to party…with a smile. 

 

 

5.) There Will be (more) Waves

It is not the end of the world today…at least I hope not. Good thing for us several million surfers around the planet, the ocean never sleeps or goes on vacation. It will bring more of those luscious rippable lines again…and again and again…every day, somewhere on the planet. Unless you have the time, grapes and/or Benjamins to go on an epic journey in search for your perfect private peak, crowds will always be a reality. So stop whining and put those big girl panties on!

Marching to detonate

There will always be more waves and you will only be that much more prepared once they roll through again! All the more reason to cherish those epic days when everyone at your break is scoring waves, even your newbie self. Some of my most memorable and special moments were at Lower Trestles with 50 people out during a firing swell. Smiles all around, enough waves for everyone, sunshine and dolphins …it’s magical. But don’t expect this every time. More often than not, waves won’t be perfect and the locals won’t always be in a giving mood. So sack up and practice that cardio! It’s not the end of the world! :)

Until then–absence makes the heart grow fonder.

 

 

Product Review: Avasol Sunscreen

Winter is upon us and besides this intro already sounding like a Game of Thrones quote, it’s still essential to put on your best armor against that shiny ball in the sky. During the cooler months, we often forget  the sun is still strong enough to eventually turn our cute mugs into a texture reminiscent of a leather couch. Instead of avoiding the warm rays and essential vitamin D all together, go outside and enjoy within the safety of an all-around awesome sunscreen.

My version of “Valyrian Steel?” Avasol.

Who: “Ava” is the Samoan word for “respect” and “Sol” translates to the sun. “Respect the sun”

What I Love: From simple, sustainable and organic ingredients right down to the biodegradable packaging, Avasol won my sunscreen heart. Whether it’s surfing for several hours, miles of hiking adventures or exploring any type of outdoor terrain, this product goes where I go. I have been using this mineral-based sunscreen for the past year and have never been burned.

Originally, I found Avasol through one of the team riders’ social media posts, Waterwoman Liz Clark. Not only is she an all-around amazing human being through her sailing and surfing adventures, but she is also a terrific advocate for all things sustainable and environmentally-friendly.

Why: Because it’s just that awesome. All of the ingredients are organic and are well within my pronunciation capabilities, the smell is addictive and it stays on your dome or bod for several hours. How can you avoid a product with ingredients such as organic coconut oil, shea butter, plankton extract and cinnamon extract. Save your best lobster impersonation for Halloween!

How: Visit their website and make a wise purchase.

Cost:

  • $19.95 for 1 ounce of the Surfer’s Barrier stick which comes in three different shades and two different SPF’s.
  • $29.95 for a 2.5 ounce reusable bottle of the Environmental Defense cream.
  • $25.95 for the Environmental Defense cream refill

Extra Advice: If you’re like me and are a skin care freak, once you are out of the sun, I recommend removing this sunscreen with a makeup remover cloth or a gentle soap and baby wash cloth. Ultimately, I refer to Avasol as my “surf makeup” because it covers up really well and looks/feels like a thick water-resistant base makeup. Although it is a mineral-based sunscreen and it doesn’t seem to clog my pores, it does feel heavy on the skin.

When I’m not near a bathroom sink *cough*Trestles*cough*, my routine is: Rinse face with fresh water, wipe off Avasol with cloth, rinse once more with fresh water and apply regular daily moisturizer with spf.

So enjoy the outdoors and respect the sun! Life is too short to live inside behind “The Wall.”

 

dana pt sunset

Board Review: Slyde Handboards

There are so many ways to ride waves these days! Our entire niche industry is obsessed with the perfect ride–we spend hours, days, months, years crafting the perfect tool to score the best wave. In the past, 18 foot wave sliders designed for Hawaiian kings have since evolved to logs with D fins or Stand Up Paddleboards to cruise point breaks. Maybe you were a connoisseur of lunch trays–Del Taco was your favorite–it had just the right type of slick bottom to glide along the face of the wave. What was once a tray evolved to a plane and now a proper board…swallow tail, carbon fiber with plenty of room for your specifics.

Enter Slyde Handboards.

Innovation and style meets a handboard perfectly crafted for riding all types of waves with minimal spray.

Let’s get one thing straight: these are actually boards…not trays, nor hand planes–BOARDS…for your hand.

I met with Slyde Handboard Owners, Steve and Angela Watts at Salt Creek and the waves were anything but playful for my board demo–full swell, overhead with a dropping tide.

“After a whole year of  R&R, we are just now releasing every shape and are excited,” said Angela. “These wedge shape boards are great for  the every day person because they can use it in big or small waves.”

Waves poured in from all angles at Creek and it seemed The Point or Gravels were the places to be.

Let the body-slamming begin!

After easing into a few insiders, I was hooked. It’s compacted fun, I thought, as one sandy wedge dredged through the inside–ones I conveniently avoided and Steve wholeheartedly plunged into.

“The Wedge boards are designed specifically to ride a wave as far as you can,” said Steve. “I’ve ridden waves all the way from out the back to the inside…you can do cutbacks with this and it sticks you to the face of the wave really well.”

My favorite thing? I can take this anywhere! Airport excess baggage fee instantly gone.

So–does it torture you to watch that perfectly peeling hollow shore break go un-ridden? Try out The Bula. Want a good starter board for all wave types? Check out The Wedge. Customize at will!

One thing I can’t promise–the places the seaweed and sand sneak into.

Pictured are The Wedge, The Wedge featuring a carbon fiber deck and The Bula

Trestles Walk

Don’t ya wish the walk was actually this fast sometimes? ;)

Book Review: “Legacy of Stoke: A Collection of Stories that made us Surfers”

 

Photo courtesy: Joseph Tomarchio

Photo courtesy: Joseph Tomarchio

In the middle of a crowded lineup maelstrom, it is always good to reflect on what brings you back to the ocean to ride those lumps of water. During weekend warrior sprints to populous breaks, sometimes we forget what draws us back to these same spots–OR–what makes us pile a hefty truck with apocalyptic supplies to seek out empty forgotten peaks—besides the beefy local who’s board you dinged last Sunday.

Face it–you weren’t always a shredder and you might have someone or something to thank for your salty introduction. Author Joseph Tomarchio’s book “Legacy of Stoke: A Collection of Stories that made us Surfers” showcases anecdotes from the every day surfer’s first time experiencing what it means to be “stoked.” From beautiful Hawaiian surf prayers to a gritty tale about fighting the temptation to paddle out during an all-time swell or study for an exam, each short story showcases tangible moments many of us have experienced post-salt water intro.

Much like surfing a new peak and experiencing the local surf banter, each of these excerpts has a unique voice describing their first time standing up on a board or beating the odds against a physical incapability just to be in the water. Heartfelt and inspiring, this book will pull at your heartstrings while you fondly recapture your own experiences, sans sunny Sunday with a beefy local’s close encounter, of course.

One of my favorite featured excerpts:

“Of a whole year of devotion, probably no more than a day was spent truly on my feet and surfing, so I couldn’t view such a moment without an ardent, frustrated desire, a bear-religious craving for wholeness. Unlike so many other passions: while on might, I suppose, wish for a bloom to remain in blossom, for a ripening grape to hang always on the vine-yearnings…for fleeting beauty and youth, the understandably hopeless hope that we might freeze our world’s better moments-the wave’s plenitude is rather in the peeling of the petal, the very motion of the falling fruit.”

For more information about “Legacy of Stoke: A Collection of Stories that made us Surfers” or to submit your own story, click here!

An October Throwback

All-time destruction engulfs California while a fall swell lights up the coast—-never has it been more selfish to be a surfer.

The cause? Consistent Santa Ana winds blowing at speeds of 85 miles an hour out of the east in addition to drought conditions and some jerk with a pyro-fantasy.

October 2007 saw a massive outbreak of wildfires which consumed over 970,000 acres that stretched from Santa Barbara county to the U.S.-Mexico border. Much of the densely populated Southern California experienced approximately 30 wildfires in late October which were then contained by the beginning of November.

Clouds of smoke cloaked the sun which casted an eerie orange hue in the sky while surfers coughed and choked their way through the lineup. Smiles could barely be seen from the sand as rebels were spat out of each barrel’s temporary “orange room”–a mouth full of toxic air awaiting each grin.

“Did you see my barrel?! It was so $%@^%# !!” while ash slowly fell like rain all over Orange County.

It was hard to determine the central conflict: surf while fires raged and local communities cried for help, risk inhaling a five year supply of smoke -or- miss out of some of the most perfect barrels.

There were some who talked of volunteering while each Santa Ana-groomed set wave emptied like a perfect tee-pee over the sandbar. Some announced the amount of cigarettes this surf session would equate to while others casted those loudmouths dirty looks.

I CONFESS: I surfed 36th street in Newport Beach that day while I watched clouds of smoke billow from the hills. Yea, I felt guilty, so it didn’t surprise me when I later contracted several terrible sinus infections in the months to follow.

But—the barrels were #@%$#&&!@!!

Central American Daydreams

While the work day spins madly on, at times, there is a need to catch up on personal mental sanity as the work week ends. A light sparks when a Surfer Magazine link files into my surf news feed about an ambiguous Central American break that is near and dear to yours truly. While my feet huddle inside a pair of stale black heels, Pro Surfer Cody Thompson shreds a sandy beach break in 80 degree water. Even though this spot is pretty much a giveaway by now, for all intents and purposes, I’m so glad Surfer Mag didn’t name it.