Surf & Yoga

Article by Darin Lehman of the SchoolYoga Institute

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Beauty, Connection and Inspiration.

Do you know that feeling? Maybe you’ve experienced it watching a beautiful sunset. Or from receiving a hug from a long lost friend. You might have experienced it after a stressful situation passed or maybe in the moment of bliss in a yoga class. That feeling when you just…completely let go. It will often manifest itself physically as a heavy sigh or exhale, you feel fully relaxed, fully content with where you are in that moment. That is the feeling of “connection,” being in tune and in harmony with what surrounds you and what is within you. Your state of mind is greatly affected by your surroundings and your surroundings affect your ability to feel naturally connected to the energy that permeates life. When you are fully connected, the mind is soft and you are able to experience the bliss that is inherent within you.

The first time I was introduced to yoga was on a beach before a surf session. It was amazing how the yoga practice helped calm the body, breath and mind with just a few sun salutations. As my yoga practice develops and matures, I feel a deeper and deeper connection between yoga and surfing.
A surfer must pay attention to his or her Prana (breath), timing inhales and exhales (pranayama), diving down while retaining the breath (kumbacha), controlling the breath as you paddle, staying in rhythm. A surfer draws energy from the breath while maneuvering across the surface of the water. The Asana of surfing keeps the body fully tuned, loose yet strong and powerful from the core. The mind stays aware of the ever changing and challenging surroundings, an active Dharana (focal point) meditation. You enjoy surfing the most on the days when you feel fully connected. You can feel the link between your breath, your body, your mind, and with the power and energy of the ocean. You feel as though you slide seamlessly under the wave when you “duck-dive” below the surface, you paddle into the waves with ease and you feel one with the wave while exploring it’s shapes and turns. Luckily for surfers, we have a breathtakingly beautiful venue to practice our art. Diving deep within our practice and ourselves while enjoying the beauty of the ocean, the sunrises, the sunsets, the rainy days, the hot days, the cold days, the snow days (yes, I have surfed in the snow many times!).

I’d like to share an experience I had many years ago. After a long day of surfing, the sun was setting and the sky turned a fiery red. Hot pink, orange, yellows and blues slashed through the skies like a mad artist at his brush. The water was warm and I gently ebbed and flowed on the incoming waves, as if I was on a rocking chair. I looked around to realize it was just me, my friends were somewhere else down the beach enjoying their own moment. A beautiful left hand wave begin to break near me, there was no wind, the water resembled a glass mirror reflecting the colors of the sky. This red and pink wave began to break revealing a beautifully shaped barrel, unridden. In that moment, 3 or 4 dolphins broke through the surface of the water, their bodies smooth and gleaming with color, surfing the wave with ease and grace as it soared behind and past me towards the cliffs. I could feel the glare from the colors of the setting sun across my face. I remember all the feelings so clearly, sitting there in bliss on the ocean with the setting sun. The air felt perfect, the water felt perfect, the view was perfect, the moment felt perfect, I felt and was fully connected.

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