by Johanna Hellinger
I came to surfing when I was 25 in Brazil. I wanted to get in touch with the feeling my boyfriend was talking about, I could see the passion in his eyes twinkling whenever he spoke about riding a wave.
So I rented a big foam surfboard and wetsuit and paddled into the waist deep water as I was instructed. There were no real waves, but I would have a go at any whitewash that came by. I didn't manage to stand up once, but I was hooked and desperate to have another go… I didn't leave the water for 5 hours. I played in the water and let my inner child out until it was dark.
A few months later I had another go when I worked with my boyfriend in a surf camp in France. A specific day has stayed with me. I had a bad hangover and headache and getting up in the morning seemed like the hardest thing ever. It only took a few paddles and I was up and riding, gliding along the water, feeling like I was flying like a bird. I was hooked, my hangover and headaches were completely forgotten. All I wanted was to paddle out again and have this amazing feeling once more even if it was for only a couple of seconds.
The attraction of surfing is the sensation you are feeling from the very first wave which is described by many people as, close to flying. The feeling of freedom opens a door to your heart and your soul. You may have had a similar experience doing your Yoga practice before, having the sensation of a divine moment that takes you to another place. This is only happening when we are truly open and in touch with ourselves. It’s real and it happens all the time. So when you connect with surfing or with yoga in that way, you really understand that there is a whole world there that you want to get in touch with and be a part of.
Yoga and surfing are complementing each other!
One can learn great lessons from surfing. Just as in Yoga, a great deal of the surfing experience, as well as life experience, happens in this unseen realm, this place that you can’t really see or touch, but it’s influencing you all the time. In Yoga energy is called “Prana” but that same “Prana” is evident in surfing through the power of the ocean. You might start your surf session tired or frustrated after a long day, but once you’re out there in the water and you get a good ride, you feel like you can surf forever. You can get so much energy from one good ride, just like you can get from your Yoga practice.
Whether it’s through strength, flexibility, or simply breathing better; all these things are pretty important in surfing. With surfing, just like Yoga you have to put in a lot of time and effort. You have to be dedicated and disciplined, despite, the modern mentality wanting more instant results. For many that connection between our body and nature intrigues us. When practicing yoga, trying to push your body into some of the simplest poses it's not easy and not very rewarding, but yoga, like surfing is a lifestyle and the longer you live it, the more you learn about it. You understand and realize how much more there is and how little you really know and how you are just barely scratching the surface.
Gerry Lopez – Hawaiian Legendary Surfer and yoga practitioner of over 40 years: “I found after searching and seeking different things that I started to view surfing itself as a yoga practice, although not in the traditional sense...I feel the entire act of the surfing process, not just riding waves, but everything that goes into surfing, is likened to yoga. I think that in that process, in the proper frame of mind, we can come to know our higher self...”
There’s the spiritual side of surfing which is becoming a little more interesting to more people and that will lead them into the environmental side. Our connection to nature and our natural being is evident in surfing, as it is in our yoga practice. This symbiotic relationship is nothing unless it is acknowledged and understood on some level.
For me as a surfer, I truly feel part of the universe when I consider who I am in relation to the gigantic ocean that surrounds me, and where that ocean lies on this most precious planet of ours. Much like during my yoga practice, when I cut out everything that clouds my being and just concentrate on the breath. With greater understanding of this relationship, maybe it will help keep our oceans a little cleaner and preserve this world we live in a little better for the generations that follow.
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