Yoga is surfing the Nature of Mind, Surfing is Yoga in Nature (J. Garuda).
Close your eyes and imagine you are standing in the most challenging posture (Asana). The only thing what matters in that moment is you and your feelings coming out of you. And then comes the moment when you can`t hear anything, not even yourself. This is the same feeling I felt when I caught my very first wave on a surfboard. “You`re caught up in those few seconds and nothing else matters. Sound, smell, everything just totally goes out the window. It`s what`s directly in front of you, what you need to do to make that wave, and nothing else”, like Greg Long describes the experience of catching a breaking wave. (D. Beres, Whole life times, Aug/Sept 2012, 33).
I started practicing yoga few years ago. I can still remember the time when I was observing older ladies: how flexible they were. During these years I realized that yoga is not only about flexibility, it’s MORE than that. The same feeling I had on the surfboard. Although I wasn`t really making any progress the great desire in me burnt a power to keep on going and never quit. And everything what mattered in that moment was me and my surfboard.
Since yoga became a part of my daily routine I’ve gained a lot of experience, have met many great people and yoga instructors, travelled all over the places where yoga is a lifestyle for ages and places where yoga is just a recent trend during the past few decades.
You wonder how surfing came into my life story? It was a wish for a long time to stand on the board and to catch the wave. This great wish became a reality, I stood on the surfboard which brought me into new dimensions.
Why does yoga go so well with surfing you might still wonder. It’s not a coincidence those two practices are fulfilling each other and you can practice both at the same time. Have you ever seen anybody making a downward-facing dog pose (Adho Mukha Śvānāsana) on a surfboard? I haven`t tried it yet, but I believe there will be a time when I will be able to do it myself.
The history of both practices goes back in many years. The purpose of both was to maintain vitality and spirituality. (Yoga Journal 2011, 56)
The analogy for both can be found in the movement: both are physical practices and a philosophy, actually they are the way of life. They demand great concentration, power, flexibility, peace and patience. You have to control your body and the mind to reach the boundaries and extremity of your surroundings.
I was surprised when I first found out that you can enjoy both practices at the same time and in the same place. There are many events and camps where you can do that. My choice was Femi Pleasure surfcamp which is offering surf & yoga experience. This is where I met yoga instructor Jai Garuda who wrote: “Considering what the two have in common brings a surprising revelation, perhaps telling us more about what people of the 21st Century are really looking for in life. Before we look at how the physical actions of theses two endevours are similar, and explore how they are also becoming symbiotic, lets consider firstly, a more Macro view of their traits and qualities”. As well as “The heightened focus and presence that`s needed to ride a wave – a constantly spontaneous movement – which is often described by surfers as just the sort of mystical experience yogis have talked about for thousands of years: a merging of the fixed sense of self, or ego, with its surroundings”. (Yoga Journal 2011, 56)
On the other side yoga is also much more that just a practice of postures (Asanas), it is a way how to treat yourself and how to treat your life. It helps you to bring lightness, awareness and harmony into your life. “It is telling us that our actions and behaviour (known as Yamas and Niyamas) always effect us more than those we are connected to. It tells us that mindfullness of a calm deep breath will keep the Body healthy, which means balanced and still. With this state of being, the Mind works at its optimum, and we could say that the waves of ups and down becomes flatter, easier. We begin to ride the longer more magnificent subtle waves” (Australian Yoga Life, Issue 6, 11) like Garuda wrote.
Let me make a short summary:
- It’s not just about the balance and the strength, surfing and yoga are meditation in their own way,
- it`s really important to breath right and feel the present moment in every breath whilst you are surfing or practicing yoga,
- surfing and yoga are ways to free your mind and to feel how “empty your head is and how clear a mind you have”,
- they both take a lot of practice and training, “The secret is revealed step-by-step, not really from the teacher, but from the bodies own wisdom within” (J. Garuda),
- they help you to find out how to respect your boundaries and the boundaries of nature, but still you have to face up all your fears,
- there are lots of styles for both and different kind of schools (big surf brands nowadays are providing yoga lessons for their sponsored pro surfers),
- tourism and food are also becoming connected with the surfing and yoga lifestyles.
And still … the most graceful feeling is when you are laying on the surfboard, watching the wave behind you and waiting for the right moment to catch it. And when you manage to stand up on the board, you feel the freedom! And that`s the feeling I would like to keep for good! Yoga mat or surfboard, it doesn’t make any difference. They are solid grounds where I can free myself, where I can be alone with the surrounding and with myself, where I can explore the boundaries of my spirit and the boundaries of my body, where I am really aware of myself and all the limits I have to respect.
Written by Sara Vuckovic