Professional bodyboarder and Strandhill Native Shambles has proclaimed that a consistent yoga practice was influential in keeping strong mind and body which allows him to love and enjoy surfing every day.
Here we talk about the benefits of surfing and yoga, and his experience combining the two.
1) TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR EXPERIENCE SURFING AND PRACTICING YOGA.
My name is Seamus Mc Goldrick and I am a Surf Coach and manager of Sligo Surf Experience at Strandhill Beach. I have been body boarding for over 20 years and surfing for over 10 years. There was a very healthy bodyboarding scene in Strandhill in the late nineties. Soon, I got into competitions and travelling to European and world events to compete with the Irish team in the men's bodyboard division.
When I was selected for Irish Surf Team squad training, the Irish Surfing Associations Development Officer - Zoe Lally - introduced me to yoga. Even though I was only 15, it was obvious to me that yoga would help recovery times from surf sessions and also help improve my body-boarding. Many of my surfing and body-boarding heroes were yoga practitioners so it made sense for me to start it up. In college, I began to read into the science and religion around yoga which made me appreciate my practice even more. I also attended a few meditation classes in my final year which again added to my yoga practice and helped with the exam stress.
Since I was 15, practicing yoga has been an important part of my lifestyle as a surfer. I mean, I am no health freak but yoga has helped me become the body-boarder and surf coach I always wanted to be. I am actually delighted now there is a world class yoga studio now right here in Strandhill.
Practicing yoga has also helped me come through many periods of injury from surfing and body-boarding. The biggest injury I have had to date was when I fractured my right femur when I had a horrendous wipeout on a big wave. I had surgery, rehab, physio and I also needed acupuncture and amatsu therapy. But now I have overcome my injury I feel yoga is the best way for me to stay healthy long-term.
2) WHY IS PRACTICING YOGA BENEFICIAL FOR SURFERS?
Basically, surfing is really bad for your body. Surfing is amazing, it is exhilarating and it feels great. But it is punishing on the body. On a surfboard you are lying in an unnatural position and over using a specific set of muscles. Also, the wipe outs twist you every which way. Yoga allows your body to relax, return as much as it can to its natural state and also iron out any tight spots or kinks in your body. It does this for the normal round of daily stresses as well. Yoga is also beneficial to the mind. While surfing is tough for the body it is great for the mind and I think the state of mind you need to surf well is also the state of mind that helps you practice yoga well. So I think surfers would make great yogis.
Practically all the most famous surfers I know or have met practice yoga, the most famous of which is the legendary Hawaiian surfer Gerry Lopez who today is pretty much a fully committed yogi.
3) WHY WOULD YOU RECOMMEND SURFING TO YOGIS?
First, surfing is great fun and is for everyone. I would encourage anyone to try surfing even just once. But from my experience as a surf coach, people who practice yoga generally do quite well in surf lessons. It seems yoga practice helps you learn surfing. You have to stay calm, keep your movements smooth and you need good balance, coordination and flexibility.
4) ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC YOGA POSES THAT YOU’D RECOMMEND TO STRENGTHEN THE BODY FOR SURFING?
Sun salutations are a great way to get a full body warm up before a surf session. And there are some great chest openers and shoulder stretches that help you recover from all that paddling. The lats also get used a lot when you are surfing and I found some great yoga poses for that. Even a simple child's pose helps you recover from surf sessions. Back bends and forward bends are good for your lower back and there are great yoga stretches for the calf's and hamstrings too. I honestly don't know one professional surfer who doesn't practice yoga.
5) ANY TIPS FOR SURFERS STARTING YOGA?
Personally, I think Tim at Salt and Soul does a really good class for surfers as he is a surfer himself. He gave a great workshop on breathing which is ideal for surfers who also was are looking for ways to increase breath holds for those big wipe-outs. I would recommend yoga to surfers at any level, a total pro or an average Joe. Try going to a full yoga class before you go for a surf and you will notice the difference in the water.