We recently spent a beautiful morning on the beach with Ella as she walked us through a sequence of her favourite fundamental yoga postures.
"Learning to be in touch with where life is in each moment - this is why I practice. For me, this breath, body and mind practice is not about conforming to other people’s ideas of yoga but simply developing awareness in our relationship with ourselves and those around us as we embark on a powerful journey of self-discovery." - Ella
These postures can be practiced daily or whilst travelling and can be a great addition to surfing. They not only build strength, flexibility and balance but when the breath is calm and controlled it can help prevent panic in a hairy big wave situation.
As well as the physical benefits all of these postures, if practiced with an awareness of breath, they stimulate the heart and improve general health and mental wellbeing. So even if surfing isn't your thing there are still plenty of reasons to give these postures a go.
Before practising these postures take a few minutes to engage with your breath.
Virabhadrasana (Hero Posture)
Keep the front heel in line with the back foot arch, stack your bent knee over your ankle and tuck your tail bone under. This pose strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles. Stretches the groins, chest, lungs and shoulders and increases endurance.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down Facing Dog)
Deservedly one of yoga's most widely recognised yoga poses it deeply stretches your hamstrings, shoulders, calves, and spine while building strength in your arms, shoulders, and legs. The flow of blood to the brain also calms the nervous system and rejuvenates the body helping you feel energised.
Urdhva-Mukha-Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog)
Press into the hands to lift the body up off the ground, keep the chest open and draw the shoulder blades together. Upward facing dog awakens the upper body lengthening and strengthening the spine, torso, and arms.
Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
Keep your hips over your knees and internally rotate your thighs, squeezing them toward each other. Keep your chest raised, your core engaged, your spine long, and your chin tucked as you drop your hands toward your heels. Safely exit the posture by bring your chin back toward your chest and lowering your bottom to the ground. When practiced slowly and safely, backbending trains the mind to remain calm whilst strengthening the back and opening the shoulders, chest, and quadriceps.
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
Raise your pelvis by sitting on a mound of sand if your hip or groins are tight. Gently press your feet together and your knees to the ground. This pose is a great hip opener whilst also stretching the groin, the ankles and feet, and strengthening the back.
Bakasana (Crow Pose)
From a low squat place your palms on the ground, gently rest your knees on the backs of your arms and use your core to lift you off the ground. Lean forward, gazing just in front of your finger tips. Crow pose encourages mind-body connection, try to focus on lifting rather than falling. Crow strengthens your arms and core muscles, as well as your wrists, upper back, and legs. While it's easier to use the force of your legs against the back of your arms for the pose, you get more physical benefit by using your core to lift you up.
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana (Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose)
Standing tall bring your knee toward your belly, wrap your fingers around your big toe and try to straighten your knee as much as possible. When you're steady slowly swing your leg out to one side. Hold for 30 seconds, slowly bring your leg back to the front and lower. Repeat the same process on the other side. Standing poses help to improve balance and core strength. It’s not easy, especially in sand but this posture will help you notice where your weight is and can help stabilising on a board.
Halasana (Plow Pose)
Lie on your back with your legs and feet stretched up toward the sky. Slowly lower your feet back over your head, clasp your hands and adjust your shoulders. If you can't get your toes to touch the ground just go as far back as you can. Plow pose stretches the spine and shoulders and relaxes the nerves, brain, and heart. From this posture move into Shoulder Stand.
Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulder Stand)
Our final posture is a powerful inversion. From Halasana, place your hands on your lower back for support. Slowly raise your legs toward the sky. Keep your chin tucked in, your neck soft and toes pointed reaching upward. In the beginning you may hold this pose for a minute or two, slowly building up to 5, 10 or 20 minutes. There are many benefits of inversions including blood circulation, calming the nervous system, decrease depression and anxiety symptoms, ease fatigue, and improving immune function.
We suggest to hold each posture for a few breathes remembering to always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you're unsure how to correctly do any of these poses check with a qualified yoga instructor.