The original Yoga for Surfers DVD came my way in a prize pack at some 13-Under surf contest years ago. I think my friend got Because and my other friend got Momentum: Under the Influence, and I think I felt pretty ripped off. I think that, at thirteen, you would too.
But even my slow-to-develop surf cognition understood the brilliance of Taylor Knox. Since Taylor was on the cover of Yoga for Surfers, and since I’d believe anything Captain America told me, I loaded the disc. YFS went on to become part of my pre-pre-school-surf routine for the next four years (that is to say, yoga followed by surfing followed by school).
Peggy Hall and her husband produced the series (there were two sequels with different, more targeted yoga programs), and now Peggy maintains a full-service health/fitness website for anyone, surfer or otherwise, looking to feel better throughout their days and nights. With all the fitness noise lately, I wondered what surfing’s matriarchal yogi might have to say. She’s agreed to a number of guest posts designed to answer the questions she fields most often from wayward surfers, including issues of diet, cross-training, yoga practice, and general human welfare. Starting…now.
PH: Surfers want to do one main thing: surf as well as they can for as long as they can. And aside from simply surfing as often as possible in all conditions, one of the best things we can do as surfers is to prepare ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually for the amazing experience of surfing!!
As more top surfers (think Mick Fanning, Garrett McNamara and Taylor Knox) share some of their secrets to better surfing through dryland training, it seems like more surfers are curious to see just where they can take their surfing by getting stronger and more flexible.
There are a number of surfers who just plain feel their age creeping up on them and they want to be able to surf the way they once used to! I hear from a lot of guys who have been surfing for 20, 30 years or more but they feel that their body is breaking down and they want to do something about it! That’s where yoga is so helpful because it not only helps improve your flexibility, but it also increases your overall energy levels, helps you sleep better, recover faster from surf sessions and generally have a better attitude about life!
There are surfers who run miles on the beach to improve their cardio, do resistance training in the gym to build more power and strength, swim laps for upper body strength and use the Indo board to improve their balance. Those are all fine ways to train — if you enjoy it, if you can do it without injury and if your surfing improves!
Yoga is really in a class by itself. Of course, all those various types of training can be beneficial. I personally do strength training a few times a week, but for me, yoga has made all the difference in my mental outlook and ability to stay calm and focused out in the lineup. That in and of itself helps as much as the physical benefits!
In fact the word “yoga” simply means union or connection — a sense of wholeness, of oneness, of being connected to the very essence of life.
Yoga is not about twisting yourself into a pretzel or executing a perfect pose. In fact, no flexibility is needed! Yoga is more about awareness, about experiencing what is going on in the present moment, whether you’re enjoying the beauty of nature while you’re waiting for a set or if you’re up and riding a bigger, faster wave than you’re used to.
Yoga is probably the best thing you can do to increase your flexibility, but it’s the mental focus and concentration that can really help out in the lineup. You learn to let go of distractions due to the crowds and to shake off that last wipeout so you can surf the next wave with focus, grace, ease — and pure stoke!
Peggy will be dropping in regularly with new and valuable insights. She says that some of the subjects most often discussed in her work are:
How to heal from injuries
Foods for flexibility
How often to work out
How to increase lung capacity
How to stop leg cramps
How to get to your feet faster
How to surf all winter without getting sick
In the meantime, these other resources exist for gleaning from the well of Peggy’s extensive wisdom:
Get free sample stretches at www.YogaforSurfers.com
We just came out with an e-book and audio CD: “High Energy Eating — Nutrition for Surfers”. You’ll learn how to get in shape and have more energy so you can surf better longer!
Also, we’re working on another series called “Fit for Surf” which is more of a strength and conditioning workout that perfectly complements the Yoga for Surfers routines.
I’ve also got a program called “The Yoga of Eating” which helps you let go of the struggle and make peace with food.
I’ve also got a weekly wellness segment on the ABC Radio Network, syndicated to about 200 stations nationwide. You can listen to past shows at www.PeggyHall.com