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Season 1 - Episode 7

Surfing Your Spinal Wave

35 min - Practice


Lydia offers a practice for surfers designed to promote freedom and openness in the shoulders and back. We move through a series of strengthening and balancing postures, closing with a spinal twist and some breath work. While this sequence is designed with surfers in mind, it can be beneficial for anyone seeking fluidity and relief in body.
What You'll Need: Mat


Read Full Transcript

(waves roll) Hi. Thanks for showing up. So this is a short piece on Yoga For Surfers. But again, like all of these short pieces you might not be a surfer but still benefit a lot from these areas that we're gonna get into, which are a lot of shoulder work, side body work. And then we're gonna do quite a few forward folds. Because from the people who helped me out with this sequence, they said that surfing is almost like being in a back bend for hours at a time.

So those simple forward folds after just feel amazing, so we're going to do a little forward fold practice after some shoulder openers. I need to thank Crystal Thornburg-Homcy at Patagonia for helping me out with this, as well as my friend Ben Moon and my friend Jonovan Moore. Thank you so much. Alright, so we're gonna start. Oh, I should mention, I always forget the prop.

You could use a strap if you have it around at home for this sequence, or you could always just use a towel. Like a big beach towel that's fairly long for this, or anything like an extension cord or something. You'll probably find something. So I'll put this over to the side. And let's come to the top of the mat and start out with just finding a breath rhythm.

It might feel good to take your hands together in the front of your chest, or allow you arms to drop down by your side. And close your eyes for a few moments, just feel you inhales and your exhales. And without forcing it, just encourage elongation of your breath. Find a rhythm. Exhale, your hands down by your sides.

Inhale, take your hands up. Interlock your hands behind the back of your skull. Widen your elbows, and take your inner shoulder blades down your back. Inhale here, exhale, tip yourself over to the right. Inhale here, slide your right hand to the outer-left elbow, bring it in.

Exhale, tip a little bit more over to the side. Inhale into the center, try not to back bend yet. Exhale, over to the left. Inhale here, keep your hips fairly where they are. Slide your left hand towards the outer right elbow, exhale a little bit more over to the side.

Inhale into the center, interlock hands, kind of slide the skin of your skull up. Exhale, back bend only in the upper chest here. Tailbone down. Release, exhale, pubic bone back, forward fold. Take your hands back behind you, interlock your fingers.

You might need to bend your knees here. Inhale, wiggle your hands straight up toward the ceiling. Exhale, take them over your head. More space in between the wrists gives you more space in between the shoulders. Take your hands down toward the floor.

Inhale, step back into a downward-facing dog. Exhale here. Inhale, come onto your knees, top of the feet. Exhale, rounded cat pose. Inhale, round your way forwards and then let your hips drop, belly in.

Let your heart drop, and swing in in between your arms. Knee, upward dog. Exhale, pull your hips back. And we'll do this two more times, and then round the low spine, mid-spine, upper spine. Spinal wave.

And then curl forwards, inhaling still, and then sink your hips forwards and open through the chest. Even though you're drawing the belly muscles in, stretch them long. Exhale, pull your hips back, and round low back, mid-back, upper back. Last one. It's kind of like a wave coming onto the shore here.

And then it's getting sucked back into the ocean. Pull your hips back, round low back, mid-back, upper back. Shift just a little bit forward so you feel the weight in your hands, tuck your toes, step back into downward-facing dog. See if you can get a feeling of stretching the sides of your body super long. Come back down onto your knees and wrap your elbows in toward each other.

Drop your elbows down to the floor so that the middle of the elbow crease lines up sort of with the middle finger. And then slide your shoulder blades down your back a little bit, relax your feet, and just slide through your shoulders. So I call this one the sliding dolphin. Maybe you know the dolphin posture, which we'll go into in a minute. But sliding backwards and forwards, keeping the outer elbow really pressed down into the floor.

Neutral back muscles. And then if this feels interesting enough, you can stay here. Otherwise, tuck your toes, let your head hang, and come up off your knees. So you can start with just knees equidistant from the floor hanging here, or maybe walk your feet a little bit closer in, bend the knees, and stretch a long line from your outer elbow to your outer hip, maybe straightening the legs. Come forwards, shift the weight back into your knees, downward dog.

Step your feet forwards, inhale. Exhale, sweep your hands behind. Interlock, see if you can get the opposite knuckle on top here. Wiggle straight up, and exhale fold. Bend the knees as much as you need to.

Sweep the arms all the way up, and exhale. Inhale, the arms up. So we'll do this two more times. Hands behind the skull. Exhale, lean to the right.

Inner shoulder blade tips moving toward each other like an arrowhead moving down your back. Inhale, slide to the outer elbow with your right hand. Exhale, go a little bit deeper. Inhale into the center. Without back bending yet, exhale over to the right.

Inhale, slide the arm up, clasp the outer elbow, exhale. Inhale into the center, belly kind of scooping back toward the spine. Elongate your upper back, pull the skin of your skull upwards, look up. Exhale, release. Hands interlocked behind you.

Inhale, come up a little bit, wiggle the arms up, exhale, fold. Breathe. Hands beside, and you can step. Or if you feel like hopping, hop back into downward dog. Inhale, exhale.

Shift onto the knees, exhale, tops of the feet on the floor. Rounded cat. Inhale around forwards, and just let this flow. Swing the upper back through, spinal roll. See if you can articulate each piece of the spine.

One more time. Downward dog. Elongate from your pinkie finger to your outer hip. Press your index finger and your thumb into the floor and lengthen your inner bicep into your inner neck. Come down, place the elbows down, slide through the shoulders.

See if you can feel somewhat a sense of evenness on both sides, even though both sides might have a little bit of a different thing going on. If it feels good to keep doing that, keep doing it. Otherwise, let the head hang. Kind of lift the muscles in between the shoulder blades a tad, tuck the toes, downward dog. Breathe.

See if the lower ribs, you can feel like they can lift away from your shoulders and move towards your hips. Decompress your shoulder joint by lifting your armpit up. Press your hands down, downward dog. Step your feet toward your hands, inhale. Exhale, hands behind.

Wiggle the arms up, exhale, fold. See if you can get the opposite index finger knuckle on top if you haven't already. Inhale, come all the way up. Exhale, last one. Inhale, interlock.

Exhale, side bend to the right. Inhale, clasp outer left elbow. Exhale, move a little bit deeper. Inhale into the center, move the elbows back. Exhale over to the left.

Inhale, clasp outer-right elbow. Exhale, side bend. Inhale into the center, stabilize lower back. Back bend in the upper three ribs. Release it, get out of there.

Exhale, interlock fingers. Inhale, come up. Exhale, fold. Hands down, inhale. Plant your hands, exhale, downward dog. Inhale, come forwards. Exhale, rounded cat.

Spinal wave three times. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Inhale last one, swing the chest through. Widen the ribs at the back of the body, exhale.

Inhale, downward dog. Re-elongate, exhale, elbows down. Slide. Pin the outer elbow point down like it has crazy glue there. Press into it, extend through the pinkie finger.

Maybe coming up into dolphin. Elongate the lower set of ribs away from the shoulders. Downward dog. Plug the inner shoulder blades down the back and lengthen the outer shoulder blades toward your pinkie fingers. Step, or you can hop forwards.

Hands behind, interlock opposite knuckle, wiggle up. Exhale, fold. Inhale, come all the way up, and exhale. Nice. So let's grab our strap or your prop that you might need for getting into a few deeper shoulder openers.

And I'm going to just double this strap because it's really long, and then start with quite a wide stance between your hands. And try not to buckle your wrists. So instead, lengthen out through your wrist joint, take the strap over your head. So you'll find out if you need to widen more space in between your hands. So the closer they are together, the more intense this is going to feel in the front of the chest.

Let the arms come back behind you, and my hands wanna buckle already because this is one of my areas. So allowing that to come back behind you. And the tendency with short shoulder muscles is sometimes to back bend to get this to happen. So instead of back bending and taking your upper spine out of its normal curve, see if you can bring the front ribs down. Heaviness there, connect the belly towards the spine with the breath.

And take this back as much as you can, and take a few breaths there. Try not to hyper-extend your elbows. Maybe for some people it feels okay to take it all the way over. And then we're just gonna breathe with this, and take it. If you did that, you can take it all the way back.

So lengthen all the way out through the wrists. And you might notice that there's this little twist thing that happens because one shoulder's tighter than the other, so minimize that if you can. Maybe widen the strap so it's a little easier. One, so inhale, come up. Exhale, come down.

Inhale, exhale. I almost want to cry doing that. Inhale, exhale. So last one. Inhale, exhale. And you might gradually start moving your hands a little closer together with that one.

So I'm gonna shorten my strap a little bit more here, and take it behind. And it's the same opening we did in the sun salute flow. The closer your strap is together, the more opening there is across the front of the chest. The wider it is apart, the more forgiving it is in that area. So you can try, and I like the palm of the hand away.

Not like this, but this way. But you can play around with it. There's two different options. So then softening the knees, if you're quite warm in your hamstrings it's fine, keep the legs straight. And let this strap come over your head.

So the inner shoulder blades can actually come up a bit and the strap can lower a little bit more. So there's a little bit of space around the base of your neck. And then drop the tailbone and come all the way up. So move the strap over to the side. We've done a lot of work opening the shoulders here, but I want to show you one more thing that you can do at home if you have a corner.

And this isn't the best space for it because there's a window there. But if you have a corner, you can take your forearms against the wall, lean the elbows into the wall, and then keep the tailbone down and allow the chest to melt in towards the wall. So that's another one that we do a lot at home. You could also do this in a doorframe, and kind of just allow a little bit of a back bend to come. And really press into the elbows so that you feel a stretch across the front of the chest.

So let's come back to the top of the mat. Ground the left foot, take the right leg up for tree pose. So place it on the inner thigh. Squeeze the foot and the thigh together a little bit to find your balance. You can take your hands together, which as you press your hands together you can find a little bit of center balance and a spreading across the shoulder blades.

Or you can take your arms up. See if you can have quiet back muscles and strong limbs. Exhale, it's also okay to encourage this knee to come backwards a bit. Bend your left knee a little bit, try not to take it over the line of your toes. Take your right leg out, cross it over your left.

If you have the flexibility, you can hook the outer ankle with your foot. But you can also let it just hang there with a little inner thigh squeeze. Sink back into this, take your arms out to the sides. Either hug your left arm on top of your right, or take you hands together. And see if you can use your glutes here, so really sink back and strengthen the outer glutes.

Slide the elbows up and the shoulder blades down, and breathe. Try not to move your left knee medially more toward the center, keep it over your second toe. And then come up, clear the floor, and place that foot back behind you. So the foot rolls in, exhale, fold forwards with a little softness in this front leg, take your fingertips to the floor, and breathe. Pour a little more weight into your front foot.

Think about, in this front foot it's like you're pulling up a really long stocking or something, and all the muscles in the leg are pulling up as you press the foot down. Either take the right hand on the inside of the foot or on the outside of the foot, or even on the shin if you feel you need that space. Take your left hand on the back of the pelvis, rotate the spine. Inner shoulder blades draw down, but the shoulder blades stay wide and you might take this left arm up. Five breaths.

Exhale, come on up. Step forwards. So root down through your right foot tree pose. Foot on the inner thigh. Find your balance.

Inner thigh, inner foot pressed together, hands pressed together opening space around the sacrum and space around the shoulders. You might reach up. Exhale, bend the right leg a bit. Sweep the left leg around to hook or to hang there, to squeeze a little bit through the inner thighs. Right arm over the left.

Either hug in or find the hands. And sink a bit back into your glutes. Slide the elbows a little bit up. And you might even do this like we did this dolphin slide on the mat. This slide actually helps to rehydrate your tissue.

So instead of just being stuck in one spot, actually that slide is sliding the sliding surfaces of your fascia on each other. And as we get older, we get more dehydrated. Unwind. Exhale, fold. Pour a little bit more weight into your front foot.

Move towards that feeling of sucking up the muscles of the leg as you lean into the floor with your foot. Hand on the inside or the outside, revolve the spine. Imagine that the hips are going that way and the crown of the head is moving that way. And then all the muscles around the spine are stretching apart from the spine, widening, as you come up into the arm position and look up. And breathe.

If this cranks your neck at all, you can always look down. And then exhale, release, and come forwards. A few forward folds. Inhale, the arms up. Exhale, fold forwards.

Inhale, lengthen. And exhale, downward dog. Step or hop. Inhale, plank pose. Exhale, lower to the belly. Inhale, toes down, lengthen upper back, cobra.

Exhale, downward dog. And step or hop forwards. Take you feet forwards, walk your sit bones back. See if you can tip forwards your pubic bone down as it feels like your sacrum's coming into the body. If it doesn't feel like you're on a downward slant like that, come up onto something so you're sitting up on something instead of forward folding like this.

Come forwards any amount, and then inhale and come up. Take your hands back behind you, tuck the tailbone under, and with the power of the tailbone lift the hips up into the air. Slide the shoulder blades down the back. Either look up, or if it's okay on your neck let your head fall back. Exhale, come down.

Pressing into the fingertips, cross your shins, roll over, flexed feet, downward dog. So this next part is optional. So this inhale, that downward dog part? Inhale, lower, upward dog, downward dog? You could just transition to the next forward fold.

Sometimes it's nice to erase the last posture with a little bit of movement. And come through, step or hop. Left leg forwards, and right leg comes back, and the outer foot comes to the floor. So if both hips don't come to the floor, you might want to put a blanket or a block underneath you here. If they come to the floor, tip your pubic bone back, sacrum in, and come forwards.

See if you can neutralize your back muscles. So instead of using the muscles of the torso, lengthen them, rotate the pelvis forwards, and feel it in the hips a little bit more than you do in the spine and the back. So inhale, come up here. And then let's walk our hands back, pick up the hips, tip the pelvis backwards, and come back down. So a little bit more feeling in the front of the thigh, then you can come down onto the forearms if it's comfortable.

You can also try sort of sliding in your shoulders here, sinking, opening the chest. And then let's come out as symmetrically as we can. You can bring this leg in, press over the foot, and step back to dog pose. Otherwise, you can just release that leg and switch sides for it. But I'll show the vinyasa part.

So inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Then come through. So right leg extends, left leg comes in, top of the foot on the floor, both hips fairly grounded. Get a prop if you need to to support the both hips.

And then pubic bone back, walk forwards. Of course you can come further forwards, and it's okay to round the spine a little bit in these postures. But only after the sacrum moves in and up, then it's okay to find a rounding through the spine. You experiment with it. So you can put the back muscles and the spine at ease, lengthen and soften them, and work into the hips.

Inhale and come up. Walk your hands back. If you're sitting on a prop, here you might be able to move it out from underneath you, tip the pelvis back, set it back down, maybe coming a little bit further down. If you feel really tippy in your hips, you can use this foot to stabilize as well, relaxing your shoulders. And let's come up and out.

Press back into dog pose. Pedal out your feet, your knees, your legs so you can take that vinyasa. Breathe, exhale, inhale, and exhale. And then come through and widen your legs on the mat. So I'm going to turn this way to show that.

If you're rounded back in this position, come up on something, or take your fingertips behind and find yourself more neutral in your spine. Not arching, back bending, but just more neutral. And either stay there or if you can feel, again, the sacrum coming in, the outer hips heavy, walk forwards into this position. Feet are a tiny bit active. So we're just gonna stay here for about five breaths, but this posture will also be in the Yin series for athletes.

So if you feel like you need a little bit more time here, then you can check that one out. Relax your shoulders. Coming to the end of the practice. You could side-stretch here a little bit, moving over to one side and then the other. And then bringing your legs in, and stepping back into your dog pose.

Pedaling out the feet. And then find a comfortable way to get down onto your back. Draw your knees in, wobble a little bit. And let's rock and roll a little bit on the spine. And for some people, it feels really good to go right up onto the shoulders like a plow pose.

So maybe a couple more times like that? And then from here, let's take a closing twist. So we'll place the feet down, press into the feet, lift the hips up, shift them over to one side. So let's go over to the left with the hips. Hips go a little to the left, shoulders stay where they are.

Cross your left leg over your right, and allow your legs to fall over to the right. So left leg over right, legs fall to the right. And just check in if that's okay on the back on the pelvis. Then you can take your arms out to the side, and I like to turn my palms down because with my right hand, I can actually press my fingertips down and encourage a little bit more of the feeling of the twist to come up into the upper back. And then we're gonna unwind, center the hips, move them a little over to the right.

Right leg over top, and let the legs fall to the left. You can turn your palms down, you could also use your hand to encourage the legs to come down to the floor. You can press with your left hand to encourage the space in between your shoulder blades to come down to the floor, which will give you a deeper twist in the upper chest. Smooth breaths. Unwind here.

Place one hand on your heart, one hand on your belly. Feet planted. And connect into a deeper rhythm of breath that is soft but long. So fill your belly hand with your breath, fill your back muscles, and then fill your top hand on the same inhale. So move from the bottom to the top.

And then exhale out of your top hand, and exhale out of your bottom hand. And do that a few times. And as you make space in your torso with your breathing and relax your muscles, relax your mind. You begin to fill up with life force, prana, chi, whatever you want to call it. You might slide you legs out, let your arms open a little bit away from the body.

And feel the spaciousness that you've created for yourself. Last few moments here. So you might pause the video and enjoy a few more moments here, or even a meditation might feel nice at this point. Or you can wiggle your fingers and your toes, take a big breath and stretch your arms long, and roll over onto one side. And take your time to come up to a seated position.

Thanks for practicing. See you next time.


Loved this Lydia..happy body:)
Laurisa! Happy to hear that. Hope to keep practicing together here. :)
1 person likes this.
Aligning and calming...exactly what my body and mind was calling for.
Kelsey Beyond happy to see you here. Love you!
Decided to try this, knowing I can't do tree without a wall (no arches, no balance) I needed the strap with the forward bends, arms over, and enjoyed the shoulder stretching, as mine are extremely tight. I LOVE the spinal wave, and will take this with me as a daily practice, the oscillating is so soothing. Middle section was a bit too fast for me, not a fluid surfer, I guess.
Love the stretching at the end, so there are a few movements I will take from this practice. Grateful for the challenge.
Hi Joan! Glad you have something to grapple with for a while. :) Love, Lydia Zamorano

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