After spending a week on a Surf.Yoga.Wine retreat in Portugal, we know exactly the kind of lifestyle we’re looking for.
Twice a day yoga sessions, days spent surfing, enjoying the sunshine, eating fresh seafood and napping on the beach – it’s basically paradise. .
Unfortunately we had to return to reality at some point, but the people we met there are the ones who decided to make this lifestyle permanent.
Miri Hussain leads the yoga practice at Bura Surfhouse, soothing your muscles and mind from the hours spent battling the swell and riding waves.
Living by the sea and surfing every day, she leads sunrise yoga sessions in the mornings and candlelit sessions each night – it’s pretty much the perfect coastal life.
We caught up with her at a sunrise practice to ask for the lowdown on what living in this surfer’s paradise is like, and why yoga and surfing are such a good combination for our body and mind.
“Growing up in Kuwait in the Middle East, I hadn’t really heard too much about yoga as a child,” says Miri.
“Fifteen years ago after attending my first class, I fell in love and was instantly hooked.”
After finding yoga, Miri moved around the world learning and teaching yoga, as well having a career as a DJ, before settling in Portugal.
“I started surfing about 8 years ago. Now I can really see the connection between yoga and surfing. Many people in the surf community have become very connected to yoga, and you can definitely see that here in Portugal.”
“The flow that we have on our mats in yoga is the same flow that we have while we are out in the ocean. They’re both great for our spirits, dedicating time out for ourselves, practicing something you love for yourself every day.”
Miri uses her time with the groups she leads in Portugal to show how surfing and yoga complement each other on a physical, emotional and spiritual level.
“The mind, body, breath connection that we develop in yoga is just as important in surfing. Staying in the present moment, the connection to nature, patience, acceptance of what is.”
“There’s a sense of knowing when you are surfing and practicing yoga to keep what we call ‘beginners mind’ – knowing that we always have something to learn.”
They’re both great for our spirits, dedicating time out for ourselves, practicing something you love for yourself every day
Surfing requires upper body and core strength, not only for all that paddling but also for popping up.
“Yoga can really benefit your surfing not only through building strength, endurance, balance and flexibility but also through breath training and the practice of pranayama.”
“These can help to strengthen the lungs, while cleansing the body and calming the mind.”
Yoga To Improve Your Surfing
There are so many wonderful poses in yoga, which help you build strength and flexibility for surfing. Here are a few poses that I include in my practice before and after a surf:
Upward facing dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana) A great pose for strengthening the upper body, opening the chest and increasing flexibility in the spine, building power for your paddling and pop ups.
Four limbed staff pose (Chaturanga Dandasana) This is a great pose strengthening pose for upper body, core and the back, great for improving your pop ups!
Downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) Helps with surfing by opening the shoulders and upper back, lengthening the spine, while building strength and endurance in the body.
Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana II) This pose is amazing for stretching the chest and shoulders. hips and legs, increasing our range of mobility on the board. Also helps with balance and mental focus.
Lord of the Dancer pose, (Natarajasana) This awesome pose helps to strengthens the legs, lengthens the spine, stretches the inner thighs, abdomen and chest and shoulders. A fantastic pose to improve our balance and mental clarity and focus.
Yoga For After Surfing
To try and relieve neck, shoulder and stiffness in the back after a surf, personally I love to do a few rounds of sun salutations (Surya Namaskar) for a nice stretch out. However, in terms of individual poses, here are some simple ones I love:
Seated forward fold (Paschimotanasana) is a great place to lengthen out and stretch out the spine after surfing.
Goddess pose (Utkata Konasana) An energising pose which builds strength, flexibility and is a very empowering, confidence building pose. Bring out your inner god, or goddess! This pose helps to stretch the groin, hips and chest.
Pigeon pose Helps to stretch out the thighs, groin and hips, shoulders and the chest after a long session out in the water!
We spent a week with Miri and I could feel the calming effects of her tuition and the ways we can use her teaching of mental focus and clarity in our surfing and daily life.
“Yoga is my sanctuary when things in life get a little crazy,” she says.
“It has given me a strong body and mind, and helped to heal me on an emotional and spiritual level, teaching me self-love and acceptance, being kind to myself and extending that kindness out to others.”
Back in London as landlocked surfers, we will definitely continue with Miri’s routine to keep our bodies open and ready to head back to the beach.
“Yoga offers us calm, peace and stillness. It can help to balance and calm our nervous system, mental clarity, teach us mindfulness and calming the mind, being fully present,” says Miri.
“Make a commitment to yourself to attend classes regularly and eventually create a home practice. You deserve it.”