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Hey, guys! I did it. I tried surfing for the first time in 36 years. Something I was so afraid to do for so long…became something important to try. Boy, was this truly a Meditation in Motion. Such a deep and profound experience it was…and I couldn’t help but relate it back to yoga, new yoga students and what happens when we give all our power away to a teacher…
Have you harbored any fears lately?
Have you felt so afraid to face something, either because you got hurt by it in the past or because you had zero f*cking clue about what would happen?
Where does our brain come from when it sends these fear signals throughout our mind-body? Why does it have this deeply ingrained mechanism that wants to protect us from undue harm?
I won’t get into the biology, but I can say that sometimes we benefit from overriding these “warnings” and trying something new.
Yoga for Surfers: A Whole Mind-Body Exercise in Trust and Movement
Not only did I realize that transitioning from lying prone on the surfboard to standing up was literally a sequence of Cobra Pose to Warrior II in fluid succession, I also discovered that looking down at the board in order to plant the Feet was the very thing that caused me to tumble off the board and into the ocean water.
(This ties back into last week’s Foot Yoga video, where you were asked to take slow steps up a piece of resistance band without looking down).
**Didnt join my list until after I sent the video? No prob. Read my interview with Nick St. Louis of the Foot Collective Here**
So, what does looking down on the board mean? It can reflect a lack of trust in the self…to trust that the feet can sense the large and very wide beginners surfboard…to trust that if you just looked ahead towards the sand that the wave could safely carry you all the way back to shore.
And although I caught the very first wave, I did wipe out several times before catching 2 more waves.
This was while learning from a local Lombok instructor.
THE YOGA OF SURFING
When you have a teacher telling you exactly what to do and at what time, it can be so helpful your first time around. Whether it’s practicing yoga poses or catching your first few waves. It’s hard to know every single detail when you’re just starting out.
At some point, as you practice some more, you begin to internalize these cues that your teacher has given you over and over.
This is when you must start experimenting on your own. Known as “self-practice” or a “home practice”, you would start doing the sequences on your own time. This is the only way you can really begin to notice how your mind-body responds when you do certain things. This is the best way for you to discover what serves you (and what doesn’t).
I was so excited to catch a few waves with the help of my surf instructor.
Trying to catch them on my own the next day was a different story.
What waves were good to surf? When should I start paddling? Why do I need to even paddle when my instructor pushed my board for me? Why was it so scary to stand up on the board when the water was so shallow and the waves were so small and slow?
All these fears could have made me wish I took another surf lesson, but in the end I ended up teaching my mind-body so much more than a teacher could’ve. He only had a limited amount of time with me before I need to take it upon myself to discover all the things that take all the time in the world.
Needless to say, surfing “super beginner” waves were 20x more difficult without the instructor. I ate it way more times, caught 2 waves (on my belly), and stood up twice for waves that already passed me by.
This isn’t to boast or to complain. All of these things pale in comparison to the one benefit I really gained from this self-practice…
The one thing that I discovered was Trust. Trust in the process. Trust in myself.
There is this trust in the self that begins to grow the more you step outside of your comfort zone. The more you show your nervous system that, yes, you’re doing something completely new (and that you are just fine).
There is this patience that re-establishes equanimity in your mind when you’re waiting for that one wave to roll on by. It could take minutes. It could take hours. But, even advanced surfers don’t always catch a wave when they visit the water. And if you do catch that right wave at that right time, you are truly uniting with the water. You are yoked with the ocean. You and the beach are practicing yoga.
TRY THIS YOGA SEQUENCE TO PREP FOR SURFING (OR TO IMAGINE YOU ARE)
The one thing I thought of when I began to surf was just how these movements were so similar to yoga poses taught in class.
Lying on the surfboard, my hands were prepared for Cobra Pose.
Standing up on the surfboard, my feet were in Goddess/Temple pose and my arms were out like Warrior II.
So, here’s a sequence I’m sharing with you that best describes my experience with surfing. You may try it out to prepare for your own surfing experience, or you can just move through this sequence as a nice body warm-up.
You can use a sturdy lounge chair, or simply practice this on the floor.
Try these out, send me an email and let me know how it goes! Need to see the whole video? Just join my list and get free access to it, along with a whole bunch of other yoga resources.
Whether you have access to a beach or not, this can be a really great strength-building sequence without using any props.
Julie (Your Head Rogue Yogi)