3 Yoga Stretches for Surfers by I Love Waves

The duo behind I Love Waves yoga and surf retreats in Mexico guide you through their top three favorite asanas (poses and physical stretches) that target the muscles surfers use most for a happy, limber body.

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Photo of Eva Estandler courtesy of I Love Waves. 
What you remember after an amazing session: those precious seconds of flying on water; marveling at the light shining through the crests of liquid glass. What you don’t remember, but your body does the next day: so much paddling; twisting and untwisting your waist like a towel; the awkward falls in between.

While you’re frothing to get wet, let devoted yoga practitioners Eva Estlander and Leah Nicole Tisdale be the angels on your shoulder whispering in your ear to take a few breaths and stretch before and after paddling out. “Stretching saves lives and surfers! We really believe this!” exclaim Eva and Leah, who host the yoga and surf retreats, I Love Waves, in Sayulita, Mexico. "Lets extend our surfing lives into our 80's!"

“The ocean has so many gifts to offer our minds, bodies and spirits but without adequate stretching — pre and post surf — our bodies will soon build up resistance to the natural fluidity of our physical movements, in and out of the water,” they continue. 
Coming from different backgrounds — Eva is from Finland with a master’s degree in economics, and Leah studied writing, psychology and dance, plus is an avid snowboarder, surfer and paddleboarder — and the kindred souls converged in their shared love for the benefits of a deep yoga practice, and the sunny surf lifestyle in Sayulita, Mexico. 

Their I Love Waves yoga and surf retreats in Mexico (look out for their all-women "Las Diosas" packages) are the perfect answer to hitting the reset button on your body and mind in a paradise location. Here, Eva and Leah shared with us their top three favorite asanas (poses and physical stretches) that target the muscles surfers use most to guide your happy, limber body to a more relaxed day. 

By: Eva Estlander and Leah Nicole Tisdale, I Love Waves in Sayulita

Eva demonstrates the side stretch wearing the Riviera One-Piece. Photo courtesy of I Love Waves.

Seated Side Stretch

This pose targets the lats (muscle groups on your mid-back) and teres major muscles (the muscles around your back shoulder blades) which are constantly engaged while you're chasing waves in the water. Practice this pose after every surf sesh and your body will thank you.

1. Start in a comfortable seated position, either on your knees or crossed legged. 

2. Send your right arm over your head supporting yourself with the other arm on the ground. Allow your arm to raise toward the side of your head for a deeper stretch. Try to maintain your chest open and look up towards the sky.

3. Add Gyan Mudra by joining the tip of your thumb and index finger together to cultivate peace, calm and relaxation.

4. Hold for 5-10 long breaths and change sides.
Prasarita Padottanasana Variation

This pose stretches out testy hamstrings while allowing the heart center to fly! The extension through the spine and lower back feels good, as those are compromised from paddling.
1. Start in a standing Tadasana Mountain pose (the bases of your big toes touching, heels slightly apart, with your weight balanced evenly between your two feet) at the front of your mat. Breathe!

2. Jump or step slowly into wide leg standing pose so body is now parallel with mat. It's your choice how wide apart you'd like your legs, just make sure heels are turned out slightly an toes are turned in slightly. Press down through the big toe mounds and heels ~ long hammies ~ extended toes. Place hands on hips. 

3. Take your Drishti gaze up towards the sky. Begin to slowly look toward the Earth. Allow body to follow by lifting your chest and heart center into a subtle back bend, slowly diving chest forward, with a long spine.

4. As chest moves forward, place right hand on the mat (or a block) directly under your heart center.
5. Deep inhale and spiral left hand towards the sky. Nice long limbs, energy running from one palm to the other! 

6. If neck is tight keep your gaze towards the Earth. If it's comfortable, take gaze towards the left hand reaching into that big beautiful sky. 

7. Stay here for 10 breaths: five breaths with arm reaching towards the sky, and five breathes with extended arm wrapping around lower back and clasping inner right thigh for the bind. 

8.  Repeat pose on opposite side.

9.  If you have wrist troubles, this pose is also available from the forearm instead of the palm of the hand, with a wider stance. Place elbow and  forearm onto mat or block and extend from here.

Leah demonstrates the Triangle Pose wearing the Zuma One-Piece. Photo by Danielle Gillett Photography, courtesy of I Love Waves. 

Triangle Pose 

This pose is amazing for opening and stretching your shoulders and chest. It also increases torso rotation and lengthens the spine.

1.  Start in standing Tadasana Mountain pose (the bases of your big toes touching, heels slightly apart, with your weight balanced evenly between your two feet) and on an out breath, step your feet wide, and parallel on the mat.

2.  Turn your right leg, including your thigh, knee and foot, out by 90 degrees.

3. While inhaling, raise both hands in an upward direction in such a way that they will be parallel to the ground with palms facing downwards. Make sure your feet are pressing into the earth and the weight of your body is equally balanced on both feet.

4. Rest your right hand on your ankle or your shin, if possible, send it to the Earth. Stretch your left arm to the sky.  Take your Drishti gaze up towards the sky and breathe. Stay here for 5-10 smooth breaths.

5. Repeat pose on opposite side.

To find out more about I Love Waves yoga and surf retreats, private lessons (or just a post-surf margarita) in Sayulita visit their website: ILoveWaves.com. 

Leah ends her stretches with a moment of gratitude. Photo by Danielle Gillett Photography. 


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