Yoga is not only a good form of exercise on its own but also a great complement to many other types of sports. One such example is surfing.
I had a brief encounter with surfing after participating in a surf camp in 2017. During the camp, we did two surf sessions, as well as a yoga class every day. Initially, I thought that the yoga classes were just to stretch out our sore muscles. However, as I learnt more about the surfing techniques, I realised that both of them are actually deeply intertwined because many of the surfing poses are similar to yoga poses.
For example, while paddling out on the board, we’re on our belly and our back is slightly arched/chest lifted up. This is similar to Bhujangasana (Cobra pose). After we’ve caught the wave and ready to “push up”, we get into a pose similar to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog), but with the toes tucked. Finally, we shift our back leg forward and stand up in a position like Virabhadrasana B (Warrior 2)!
Of course, apart from the poses above, I find that yoga also helps to train up the following areas which are beneficial for other types of sports as well.
1. Core strength
I believe many of us have heard our instructors telling us to “squeeeeeze the core!”. Indeed, most of the yoga poses work on core strength. From Navasana (Boat pose) to Kakasana (Crow pose) to Sirsasana (Headstand), all of them require us to engage our core muscles. Not just for athletes, having a strong core is important for everyone, because it helps to stabilize our body, strengthens our back muscles and holds up our body.
A lot of the yoga poses help to stretch our muscles and increase our range of motion, which in turn improve our flexibility. Hence, I feel that yoga will be a good complement to rock climbing, because with better flexibility, we’re able to bend our bodies into awkward positions as we try to reach for that foothold and push ourselves up.
3. Better breathing
Yoga teaches us how to breathe properly through the practice of different types of pranayama. Proper breathing techniques help to improve our respiratory system and build up our stamina. This will be beneficial for people who do aerobic exercises like running, swimming and hiking etc.
Nowadays, with more sports facilities and gyms around, a lot of us are doing different types of sports. Whichever sport that you’re doing, I strongly encourage you to incorporate yoga into your training routine, be it as a form of stretching or as a complement to the sport. Give it a try and you might be surprised how it can improve your performance and overall well-being!