Description | Surf And Yoga || Why They Are Soulmates
Author | Rachel Lingham
I often get asked about the relationship between surfing and yoga, and why they go so well together. Because they do, don’t they? For me, the short answer and the thing that they have most in common is the ‘flow’ effect.
Athletes talk about entering the flow, that moment where your body just connects and everything seems to come together. You’re focused, calm, in the moment.
Creative flow is another one - that moment where you are completely engrossed in what you are doing, whether it is designing something, building a website, writing, painting - even updating spreadsheets if that's your thing.
Whatever it is that gets you into that flow, it's a magical place to be. You’re productive, focused, and most importantly, present.
In yoga, it’s called something else. Mindfulness, meditation, dharana. The way we enter this state of concentration doesn’t really matter, what matters is that we can return to it.
Surfing does that for me every time. I am definitely not the best surfer, but the clarity I get from it is like an addiction. All I can see is blue, all I can hear is the sound of the ocean, and my mind is clear and focused. Every moment spent on that wave stretches out to an eternity, every second counts and is cherished, and it is one of the only precious times that I don’t catch myself wishing time away.
We all do it, wish time away. Even if we are happy and fulfilled. ‘I can’t wait to go on holiday next month’. ‘I can’t wait until payday/my birthday/the weekend’. And so on.
But surfing stops this process in its tracks. As does yoga. I'm focused completely on the movements my body is making, the breath - the flow - calms my mind, and allows me to become present, content. Time stretches, nothing else matters.
And of course there is the physical stuff. Yoga opens, stretches, strengthens, relieves and balances. All of this creates space in the body that translates to the water.
Flexible hips mean you can stay compressed for those turns. Strong shoulders, open chest and healthy lower back are essential for paddling, to be effective in the water, and to prevent repetitive injury. A strong core makes for a more explosive pop up. Good balance, created by yoga, speaks for itself on a surfboard. And so on.
And then we come to the breath. A strong pranayama (yogic breath technique) practice develops and increases lung capacity (essential for big hold downs.)
And, last but definitely not least, the calm and focused presence of mind cultivated by a meditation practice translates to those scary times in the ocean. Instead of panicking or bailing, you take a deep breath, calm the mind, and nail it.
Surfing and yoga go hand in hand for me. The connection with the ocean is the same as the connection with the breath.
So next time your surfing is feeling a little stale, why not try a yoga class and see where it takes you.
“One of the great lessons that surfing teaches you is to be able to go with the flow smoothly and to be in the moment spontaneously… Forget about expectations or disappointment.”
~ Gerry Lopez