Paddling out with a calm mind is key to success in the surf.
The breath and the mind are intimately connected which is why breathing exercises can change our mental state, we can shift from fight-or-flight mode to a calm state, just ask any big wave surfer.Here are three breathing exercises to get you prepped for anything the sea throws at you! You can try any of these exercises at the beach or at home.
Before you start these exercises make sure you are sitting comfortably in a cross-legged position (or the closest comfortable thing) with a straight spine. It may help to prop yourself up with a folded blanket or a cushion.
THE DEEP BREATH
We take around 20,000 breaths a day but rarely use all our lung capacity, deepening your breath clears out toxins and brings more nourishing oxygen into the body, making you feel better and giving you more energy – great for prepping for a big paddle session.
To create a good strong breath you need to breathe in 3 parts.
- First expand your belly and pull air into the bottom of the lungs
- Next expand your ribcage to fill the mid-lungs.
- Finally, lift your chest to fill air into the top of the lungs (all you are doing here is exaggerating the natural breathing process to increase your lung capacity).
- Keep breathing in this way for at least 3-5 minutes. (You can do the 3-part breath at any time in the day, even out in the surf).
THE EVEN BREATH
Creating an even breath brings balance to the mind and nervous system, leaving you feeling relaxed and awake at the same time. This is a great way to start any day and is a really good way to get to present and ready for a surf.
- Take a comfortable seated position with a straight spine.
- Close your eyes and rest your hands on your knees.
- Start deepening your breath, taking slow steady breaths. Practice the 3-part breath (instructions above) until you can inhale for a count of 8 and exhale for 8.
- When you feel comfortable breathing in and out for 8, hold your breath at the top of your inhalation for 4, then exhale and hold your breath out at the end of the exhalation for 4.
- The full round is 8-4-8-4
- Take at least 5 rounds, for up to 10 minutes.
THE ENERGIZING BREATH
This one is very simple but effective, and will leave you buzzing with energy so if you are lacking enthusiasm on a cold, onshore day then give this a try!
- Take a few breaths using the 3-part technique and once you have a strong breath sorted, increase your breath to a count of 8 on the inhale and exhale.
- Then inhale for a count of 8, hold the breath in for 4 and exhale for 8.
- Repeat the process for 3-4 minutes (not as long as the even breath because you don’t want to pump yourself up too much).