STRENGTHEN your back and increase your breath strength with these yoga moves for surfers from our favorite mermaid, Sophie Jaffe. Sophie’s yoga practice is a constant inspiration, and we’re always happy to break a sweat just for an excuse to refuel with her coconut smoothie bowl creations. Here’s Sophie’s advice for surfers, swimmers and other active water babies…
The fair-weathered summer months absolutely call for pool swims and ocean dips. And when you begin to truly embrace your inner mermaid and glide through the water with a beautiful butterfly, breaststroke or freestyle, you reap both physical and psychological benefits. However, intensive swimming can lead to body misalignment and muscle imbalance, which is why a yoga practice provides the perfect counterbalance to time spent in the water.
While on the sand or dry land, flow through these five poses (and use pranayama!) to strengthen the back, build supple muscles, boost flexibility, and help those lungs breathe so that you can keep on swimming freely.
5 Yoga Poses for Surfers, Swimmers + Mermaids
Starting from downward facing dog, come forward into plank. Bend your elbows and lower down to the floor. Roll your shoulders back and press your elbows in, keeping them torso-distance apart. Reach back through your legs, press down through your hands into your foundation, and lift your chest forward and up, keeping the back of your neck long and your legs active. Continue to broaden your collarbones and roll your shoulders back and down, creating a nice long line from the crown of the head to the tip of the tailbone. Hold for several breaths.
Begin on your belly and reach back for the tops of the feet. Then relax the chin and rest it back onto the floor. Then relax the glutes so that your hips are open. As you inhale, think about filling yourself up like a balloon so that you rise up. Exhale and then kick into the feet, lifting up your gaze. Soften your jaw and point the toes directly toward the sky and kick back as you gently pull with the hands. Hold for several breaths.
Begin seated with your legs extended out in front of you. Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together. Bring your heels close to your pubic bone so that your legs fold deeply and you feel a stretch in your inner legs. Press your fingertips into the floor next to your hips, and lengthen up from your hips to the crown of your head. Then press your heels together and release the top of your thighs to the floor. Separate the top edges of your feet and gently draw your abdominal muscles in toward your spine to support the length of your torso.
Starting with your legs stretched out in front of you, bring the left knee on the outside of your right hip underneath and your right knee on top. Put your right foot on the outside of the left hip so that your knees are stacked and your feet are on either side of the hip. Bring the feet in close to the hips and extend your arms out to your sides. Then reach the hands back behind you, placing the palms together with your fingers pointing up on your back. Move your hands up the back, as high as you can. Squeeze your shoulders back, draw the elbows back, and soften the wrists. Hold for several breaths.
From downward facing dog, bring your right knee forward to your right wrist. Rest your shin onto the earth, and then extend your left leg behind you. Get settled in the hips and keep your shin at a deeper angle than it would be for pigeon pose – the heel should be in closer to the left hip. As you settle into the hip, start to pick up your left foot. Gently pull your heel in toward your hip, at which point you’ll start to feel a stretch of the left thigh.
After a few moments, turn your thumb toward the center of your body so your fingers and toes are in the same direction, giving your shoulder a nice stretch. From here, slide your toe into your elbow crease, engage the abdomen and energetically pull everything into the center of your body. Lift your left arm high and shoulder high. Bend the right arm and connect the fingers behind your head. You may also choose to bring both hands to your head, and on each hand, bring your thumb and index fingers to touch so that they’re in gian mudra – a position of wisdom and calmness. Hold for several breaths.