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The second of a three-part series, Ryan Huxley describes how to breathe properly to calm your mind, body and increase your oxygen saturation to push into larger surf.


Right now I am sitting in a cafe in the beach side metropolis of Manly, Sydney. On any given day the eclectic surfing genome is on display here in all its magnificence. It can first be observed in the embryonic shimmers of morning light as the corporate surfer busily fill’s his or her pre-dawn wave quota before scuttling hurriedly into their professional days. This corporate surfer is accompanied by a sub-group of before school grommets, eagerly snapping away at the inside section as they perform turns their vintage predecessors can only dream of. The next group to clock on I like to label the ‘mid-morning hospitality, student, or lifestyle vocation contingent’, comprising a diverse mix of locals and travelers, of both domestic and international origin (me included). At this point of the day until 4pm you will rarely see a more diverse array of board types, surfing styles, and levels of stoke coming through in the water. As you can see from today’s surf image Manly was dishing out 8 foot rogue beach breaks, throwing the daily surf routine out the window for all but the most experienced or cerebrally unhinged.

This leads into part two of the Surfbodysoul breathing series, ‘Supine Abdominal Breathing’. After an adrenaline filled surf session it’s quite nice and often necessary to calm your respiration and head space back to a functional range. Even out of the water if you are having a stressful period at work, home, or just life stuff this is the most effective breathing exercise to calm things down and provide a sense of stability. This is due to the effect it has on our autonomic nervous system, in the process slowing our heart rate and reducing blood pressure.

Its nice and simple so lets have a look at the technique:

Start lying on your back, legs straight, turned out and relaxed. Feel your shoulders effortlessly soften away from your ears. Now relax the corners of your eyes and mouth towards your ears. Feel the space between your eyebrows, known in Yoga as the third eye centre soften.

Place your right hand on the upper part of your chest and the left hand on the upper part of the abdomen.

The technique

Breathe so that the left hand moves anteriorly (towards the ceiling) during inhalation (breathing in) and posteriorly (towards the floor) during exhalation (breathing out). The right hand should not move. (Refer Image above)

Over time build your inhalation and exhalation to a steady 5 second count each way. You can increase your count in seconds over time if you wish. Complete this breathing technique until you feel calm and relaxed, or if you like more structure try 3 sets of 10 breaths and build from there.

Notice that the inhalation requires a moderate effort and the exhalation seems relaxed. I recommend ‘Supine Abdominal Breathing’ to my Surfbodysoul clients at the end of their surf fitness practice, in between hyped up surf sessions or before going to bed.

Ryan Huxley is the co-founder and program creator at Surfbodysoul, a website that provides safe, effective, holistic, scientific e-book exercise programs catering for surfers of all age, level and experience. Ryan is a qualified Physiotherapist, Exercise Physiologist, Advanced Yoga and Pilates instructor. His list of pro surfing clients includes Fergal Smith, Chippa Wilson, Anthony Walsh, Paige Hareb, Emi Cataldi & Rusty Miller.

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