If you're a yogi who loves the water as much as I do, you might often notice pain in your shoulders, wrists or lower back after stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) or surfing. This 15-minute yoga sequence will help prepare your body before your next SUP or surf session.
You’ll feel a powerful boost in the shoulders while simultaneously stretching and strengthening the most important part of the body for any kind of paddling. This sequence will also align the hips, keeping them level without arching the low back, minimizing any potential pain that could result when paddling and standing up a board. You’ll also work the core by developing lower abdominal awareness, which is key for strength and stability on the board and also for greater paddling efficiency.
Working the shoulders, hips and core together will create proper alignment in the spine and give an overall boost to the nervous system, ultimately allowing for optimum performance on your board. Plus, you’ll minimize the risk of post water workout-related pain or injury.
So next time before you paddle out, grab your mat and hit the beach or a dock and tune into your body with this special yoga sequence for stand-up paddlers and surfers. Mahalo and Namaste!
1. Alternating leg raises with a block or prop
Lie on your back with the shoulder blades, sitting bones and heels on the floor. Establish the connection to the floor through these body parts by allowing yourself to feel supported by the ground.
Squeeze a yoga block or a PFD (personal floatation device) between your palms and raise the right leg 90 degrees. You should feel a sensation in your shoulders.
Raise the block or PFD above the head, but not too far so that you lose the engagement of your shoulders to the floor. Keeping space between your neck and shoulders and your shoulder blades on the back, feel your collarbones spreading open and inhale.
Engaging the lower abdominals, bring your prop to the outside of the right thigh. Exhale, lower the leg to the floor and then bring the prop back over the head. Inhale, raise the left leg this time to 90 degrees, then bring the prop over to the left thigh and hold.
Exhale and then lower the leg, bringing the prop back above the head.
Repeat 5-10 times on each side. This should take about three minutes.
2. Seated spinal twist with a block or prop
Come to a seated position with your legs straight out in front of you. You may want to place a towel, blanket or rolled up mat under the sitting bones to keep the hips level. (I just roll up the end of the mat I'm using).
Raise the block or PFD above your head you did before and inhale.
Exhale and squeeze the prop, twisting from the navel over to the left. Be mindful that you’re not whipping your arms and head out to the side, but actually twisting from the navel. Keep the head directly over the center of your chest.
Lower the block so it's level with the center of the chest. Inhale and lengthen by elongating the spine, then exhale, deepening your twist.
Take another inhale and raise your prop back above your head and return your torso back to center.
Exhale and then twist from your belly to the right, again mindful of twisting from the core and chin in line with the center of your chest as you exhale.
Inhale, elongate; exhale, twist. Inhale and raise the prop once more over the head, elongating the spine and exhale as you return back to center.
Repeat 5-10 more times on each side and continue moving with your breath. This should take about three minutes per side.
3. Half Boat Pose with a Paddle
Lie on your back on a flat surface, holding your paddle in both hands right above your belly, arms and elbows straight in front.
Raise the torso just far enough so that your shoulders come off the ground and your toes are visible. Flex your feet.
With your legs together, exhale and raise them in the air about 30 degrees.
Inhale and release the legs and torso back down.
On your next exhale rise up again, this time raising the legs to 60 degrees and hold. Inhale and come back down.
Exhale and come back up, this time bringing the legs 75 degrees off the ground and hold. Inhale as you release back down.
Now raise the paddle above the head, keeping your shoulder blades flat on the back (as done previously with the block or PFD).
Exhale, and bring the legs to 60 degrees and come up bringing the paddle close to the legs.
Inhale your arms back up, hovering the legs a few inches off the ground, and hovering the paddle over the head with your arms straight.
Exhale up to Half Boat Pose, and inhale as you hover.
Repeat 10-20 times. This should take about five minutes.
4. Chair Pose with Alternating Lunges
Stand at the front of your mat and find Mountain Pose, rooting down through the four corners of the feet. Release the buttocks toward the floor, hip points forward, front ribs in, back ribs lifting up and chest lifting slightly, keeping your chin directly over the sternum. Inhale.
Exhale and sit back into Chair Pose, shifting the weight into your heels. Raise the arms over the head with straight arms and elbows and hold for one full breath.
On your next inhale, step your right leg back about 4 feet and find Crescent Pose. Exhale, holding Crescent Pose for 2 breaths.
Next bend your back knee down, stacking your front left knee over the left ankle. Keep your hips level and chest lifted.
Touch your palms above your head and inhale. Exhale, folding at the hips and bring your hands down to frame your left foot. Inhale, Step back to plank position.
Exhale, and lift your hips into Downward Facing Dog.
Raise your right leg and bring it through the hands, closer to the right hand.
Come up to crescent pose on the opposite side as you inhale and hold for two breaths.
Inhale, Step the left foot up to meet the right and sit deeply into chair as you exhale.
Repeat three rounds.
5. Pyramid Pose with Cow Face arms
Find Mountain Pose at the front of your mat. Bring your hands to the hip points to make sure they are level.
Step the left foot back 3 1/2 to 4 feet, or far enough so that you can get the heel of your back foot to the ground keeping the legs straight and the hips level.
Raise your left hand to the sky, keeping the elbow close to the face, and bend at the elbow and allow the left hand to fall in the center of the upper back.
With the right arm still down, bend it at the elbow and reach up the back with your right hand to find the left.
Once you have your Cow Face arms, lift the sternum and inhale. Keeping the hips level and legs straight, hinge at the waist and fold forward over your legs as you exhale.
Hold for 3-4 rounds of breath and repeat on the opposite side.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com & Courtesy of the author