During the months of inescapable early sunsets, evening sessions for me are pretty impossible…unless I surf with a headlamp…which I have seen done….but brrrrrr.
I confess…While inching towards home along the I-5 freeway, I often watch the sun disappear and the surfer inside me stomps up and down like a four-year old pitching a tantrum. All those uncrowded waves, empty trails, quiet moments before the sky turns a deep orange and purple and sends chilly surfers to the beach…all waiting for me to meticulously scan the medical dictionary for a garden variety of seasonal illnesses to fake.
But I’m a bad liar.
And a little darkness should never put a damper on a surfer’s schedule. The key are distractions!
This is the time of the year where I like to turn my focus to yoga as its physical and mental benefits force me to clear my mind (much like surfing) while keeping my body limber for the spring and summer. When I practice yoga, I not only see a huge difference in my surfing’s posture and technique, but I also maintain better focus and breath control.
“Surfing and yoga definitely complement each other,” said Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher Carolyn Long. “There is a lot of core strengthening, in fact, you notice a lot of yoga poses surfers do anyway: warrior, pigeon, down dog, cobra, up-dog, to name a few.”
Long has been practicing Yoga for 13 years and teaches a wide variety of yoga classes across Orange County, California.
“Pranayama (breath) work is a HUGE edge for surfers,” said Long. “It allows them to ‘stay in the moment.’ Just like a moving meditation in our asana practice, on a wave this could mean life or death.”
Mental clarity is a must while battling rush hour on a daily basis. In between blaring car horns, accidents and zooming motorcyclists, anyone’s patience can be strained, especially when all thoughts end with “could’ve been surfing right now.” But after a few deep yoga breaths, perhaps a change in playlist, I am content to know that after March 10th (daylight savings), my evening sessions will be back before I know it. But I don’t rest in that fact…I just simply rest and breathe deep oceanic breaths.
“Yoga has been an immense part of my training,” said Professional Bodyboarder Monica Dell’Amore. “With surfing one of the things Yoga has helped me with the most is the ability to control and slow down my heart beat in moments of struggle and fear in the water.”
This is most important when Dell’Amore charges heavy waves like Pipeline on the North Shore of O’ahu. This break needs no introduction in the surfing community and it is a well-known fact that if you’re going to surf Pipe or any heavy water, you need to train.
In just about every pro surfer/waterman-woman interview I read, Yoga plays a huge role in their daily routines and continues to be an essential tool for breathing techniques.
But surfing community aside, the average Joe or Jane uses it as a form of stress release, a way to calmly connect with themselves and their surrounding environment.
“Yoga also reminds us of the interconnection of all things,” said Lindsey Plumier, Founder of the Non-Profit Organization My Own Two Hands. “Once we can connect to this truth, we can remember that we are all connected in this web of life and can take our yoga off the mat and into the world around us.”
So keep breathing deep…March 10th is almost here.