Words: Cordelia Brabbs
The Yogic Commandments
- • Learn to recognise your body’s limits and never force a pose or push your muscles too far.
- • Use your breath to stretch into a pose. Take slow deep breaths in and out through your nose. On the out breath, relax more deeply into the position (without pushing).
- • Only attempt a difficult pose once your body is warm from stretching or other yoga moves.
- • There’s no competition in yoga, so you don’t have to prove yourself or impress anyone by straining to be the bendiest on the beach.
- • Practising the poses every day will have a greater effect on your strength and flexibility than just doing them every now and again.
- • Stop practising if you feel any pain or discomfort. Yoga should be challenging but not painful.
- • If you haven’t tried yoga before, go to a local class to learn the correct technique before attempting poses by yourself.
Good for: All sports
The pose: Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Body benefits: Stretches and strengthens the whole body and improves flexibility. Makes the perfect warm-up and cool-down stretch for any action sport.
How to do it: Kneel on all fours with your wrists underneath your shoulders and knees underneath your hips. Curl your toes under and push back raising your hips and straightening your legs. Spread your fingers and press down from your forearms into the fingertips. Let your head hang, and move your shoulder blades away from your ears towards your hips. Rotate the thighs inward, keep your tailbone high and sink your heels to the floor.
Advanced pose: If you’re super-bendy, try to keep your back flat by drawing your ribs in, and start the pose with your feet further away from your hands.
Good for: Boardsports
The pose: Dancer Pose (Natarajasana)
Body benefits: Strengthens legs, improves balance and helps focus your mind. Great for boardsports where balance is crucial.
How to do it: From a strong standing position, with your abdominal muscles engaged, shift your weight onto the right leg. Fix your gaze on something still to help you balance. Bend your left knee and clasp the inside of the left foot with your left hand. Bring the left foot and the right arm up towards the ceiling as you move your torso forward. Hold for five to 10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Advanced pose: Aim to bring your lifted leg closer to the back of your head (don’t force it).
Good for: Surfing
The pose: Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Body benefits: Increases spine flexibility and strengthens lower back muscles. The cobra is pretty much the position you adopt before popping up.
How to do it: Lie face down on the floor, hands level with your shoulders, and elbows tucked in to your body. Slide your chest forward and upwards keeping your hands where they are. Roll your shoulders back and lift the chest higher, keeping your lower ribs on the floor. Hold the pose for three to five breaths, keeping your neck neutral and relaxed.
Advanced pose: Keep your chest high and bring your hands off of the floor.
Good for: Snowboarding
The pose: Awkward Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
Body benefits: Strengthens the thighs – great for reducing leg burn on long powder runs.
How to do it: From a strong standing position, bend the knees until the thighs are almost parallel to the floor. Bring the arms up towards the ceiling, keeping your tailbone well tucked in and your abdominal muscles strong. Put a slight bend into your upper back. Hold for five to 10 breaths.
Advanced pose: Bring the hands into a prayer position at the heart. Twist to the right side, bringing the left elbow outside the right knee. Stay low in the pose and keep the knees pressing together. Come back to centre and then do the left side.
Good for: Windsurfing
The pose: Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)
Body benefits: Strengthens the legs, opens the chest and shoulders, and tones up the abdominals to give you all-over core strength and control.
How to do it: From Downward Facing Dog, bring the right foot forward next to the right hand. Pivot on the ball of your left foot and drop your left heel onto the floor with the toes turned out about 45 degrees from your heel. Bend your right knee directly over the right ankle, so your calf and thigh form a right angle. Draw your right hip back and the left hip forward, so your hips are squared to the front. Bring your arms out to the side and up, until your palms are touching. Gaze up towards your thumbs and bend backwards very slightly. Repeat on the left side.
Advanced pose: Press the outer edge of your left foot down harder, keeping the right knee over the right ankle. Keeping your body central, sink down lower into the pose on the out breath.
Good for: Mountain-Biking
The pose: Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
Body benefits: Stretches the thighs, groin and back, and opens the hips.
How to do it: Begin on all fours, with your knees directly below your hips, and your hands slightly ahead of your shoulders. Slide your right knee forward to the back of your right wrist; whilst bringing your right shin under your torso and your right foot to the front of your left knee. Slowly slide your left leg back, straightening the knee and lowering your thigh to the floor. Lower the outside of your right buttock to the floor. Position your right heel just in front of the left hip. Breathe out and lay your torso down on the inner right thigh for a few breaths. Stretch your arms forward. Hold for five to 10 breaths.
Advanced pose: Lift your torso into an upright sitting position, with your fingertips resting lightly on the mat.
Good for: Climbing
The pose: Crow Pose (Bakasana)
Body benefits: Strengthens the wrist, forearms and abdomen giving you the core and upper body strength that are essential for tackling tough rock faces.
How to do it: Bend your knees slightly, and put your palms flat on the floor about shoulder’s distance apart. Place your knees on the back of your upper arms. Start to come forward, lifting your head as you go. Take one foot and then the other off the floor so you come to balance with both feet up.
Advanced pose: Work on straightening your arms while you’re in the pose.
All exercises carried out at your own risk. If in any doubt, check with your doctor first.