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Yoga and Surfing

Most commonly referred to as Warrior pose, this Yoga pose is one of many that helps surfers balance and alignment. Give it a try!

Most commonly referred to as Warrior pose, this Yoga pose is one of many that helps surfers balance and alignment. Give it a try!

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.”

Photo Courtesy: Sean DaveyMonica Dell'Amore uses Yoga as part of her training to charge Pipeline on O'ahu's North Shore.

Photo Courtesy: Sean Davey
Monica Dell’Amore uses Yoga as part of her training to charge Pipeline on O’ahu’s North Shore.

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.

Photo Courtesy: Sean DaveyMonica charges!! Yeew!

Photo Courtesy: Sean Davey
Monica charges Pipe!! Yeew!

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.

Photo Courtesy: Nate Trodd Monica Dell'Amore charges Puerto Escondido in Mexico. Yeew!!

Photo Courtesy: Nate Trodd
Monica Dell’Amore charges Puerto Escondido in Mexico. Yeew!!

Amazing Baja…Round Two

That’s right.

Only a day after I flew back from Cabo/Baja Sur, a couple of buddies and I turned right back around at 4 a.m. on New Year’s Eve to score more epic surf sessions somewhere VERY south of the U.S./Mexico border.

This time we took a very well-endowed truck and ended up in one of the most desolate areas in the western hemisphere. Nothing for miles, not even a single person in sight.

I'm SO not telling...

I’m SO not telling…

I’m not going to elaborate too much, as there are a few article possibilities in the works. I did, however, create an extremely cheesy but fun video about my trip.

You can watch it here.

Baja Sur, solo

The sky exploded with color on my birthday, Dec. 27, 2012.

The sky exploded with color on my birthday, Dec. 27, 2012.

Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, had their apprehensions about my solo trip to the small town of Pescadero in Baja Sur, Mexico.

I heard it all:

You’re gonna get lost.” (Most realistic)

You’re gonna end up in a body bag.” (Really?)

You’re gonna get hacked up into small pieces and end up in a body bag buried in the middle of the desert.” (My personal favorite)

“You should write a will.” (Nice.)

Though my family and friends were adamantly turning my vacation into another sequel of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I refused to succumb to fear. In fact when they said these things, I only wanted to prove them wrong that much more. Though I really appreciated the legitimate concern, I didn’t want to change my schedule to nice “safe” Hawaii, nor compromise any part of my plan, especially after I was told I’d end up in a body bag.

This was going to happen. Screw fear.

Ready to G-O!

Ready to G-O!

Aside from 90 percent of my surfing done alone, I’ve camped for five days along the Big Sur coastline in 2009 along with another trip to Hawaii in 2007. I was calling this a mild introduction to the wide world/rabbit hole of travel.

Stoked on my birthday sunset!

Stoked birthday girl

   Reality didn’t set in until I stepped off the plane in San Jose del Cabo. Though the terrain looked like a familiar extension of southern California, sans houses and mini-malls, it still felt far away. I did it, I’m here…okay, now what.

Local donkey was a rescue...if you didn't have food, he didn't like you.

Local donkey was a rescue…if you didn’t have food, he didn’t like you.

After marveling at the first stamp in my passport, it occurred to me the next step was to find my rental car, among the flurry of time shares and vacation package sales reps salivating at the airport’s exit…Then and finally, onto Pescadero off highway 19…where ever that was.

It was Christmas Eve and I thought I had a rental car. Not so.

Despite the fact that I booked with the ironically named Advantage rental cars online, they said they did not have me on their reservation list. <Insert obvious ‘Advantage’ knee-slapper pun here.>

After an hour of crocodile tears and shameless claims for refunds, they rented me a car for a pretty penny. Several hurried signatures and multiple broad maps later, I jumped into my car as fast as I could. They told me to take the road through Cabo San Lucas and turn right at a bull ring. Some guy smoking pot told me to take the toll road, but my mind was made up. I sped through the early evening dust to find highway 19 before the sun set. And the sun did set…right as I became thoroughly lost in Cabo San Lucas.

Should’ve listened to the pothead.

In the states, you get at least a three mile warning before you find your turn-off. In Mexico signs (including stop signs) do not matter. They might appear or they might not. This was evident as I almost t-boned a city bus while driving thru a very non-Americanized area of Cabo in the dark on Christmas Eve.

I ran into back alley dead-ends and skidded around random scurrying dogs. Hertz’s bright yellow emblem burned like Harry Potter’s Voldemort scar on the back of my rental’s trunk while sets of eyes followed my blonde noggin and pasty complexion. Anxiety balled up in the back of my throat and for a second, I considered the possibility of spending the night in my car on the side of the road.

After asking “Donde esta highway 19?” over and over to various convenient store clerks, random passerbys and gas station attendants, I eventually found my highway.  Taking a deep breath, I stared at my only company, my borrowed surfboard bag, which was propped up in the passenger seat before speeding off into the dark desert. If surfboard bags could talk, this one might know what to say as it’s seen many destinations, such as India and South America, thanks to my well-traveled buddy Sean’s severe travel bug.

Sand crabs galore.

Sand crabs galore.

Half way through, I thought. I’m almost there, I can do this.

Outside of Cabo, there are no lights for anything except the Pemex gas stations. Darkness surrounded me while semis barreled past me, my eyes peeled for km 64 and a Pemex station.  Despite these set-backs, my faith never faltered. I knew everything was going to be alright.

The point on Christmas day, 2012.

The point on Christmas day, 2012.

I could hear Sean echoing in the back of my mind:

“Accept the fact that you’re going to get lost, Jackie,” he said as we carefully mapped out every step of my route the night before. “It’s just part of traveling. Besides, it’s not an adventure until you get lost.”

This was the mellow part of the road to my hotel...however, you don't need  four-wheel drive.

This was the mellow part of the road to my hotel…however, you don’t need four-wheel drive.

Eventually I found my way to the hotel through a couple of drunk local surfers who led me down a dark dirt road. At this point, my dwindling faith hung by a thread, the only legitimate sign about these locals was the wave drawn in the dust that caked their truck’s rear window. Nevertheless, they guided me and didn’t hesitate to invite me for drinks.

“No, gracias,” was my immediate response.

“There’s going to be waves tomorrow! Come surf Cerritos, chicaaa!” they chimmed while hanging out the truck windows.

 Sean was almost as worried as my parents and demanded some form of contact when I arrived. His was the only number I wrote on paper for an emergency (my cell phone was null-and-void for multiple reasons). If there was ever an emergency, I knew he could be down there faster than any government agency. He knew exactly where I was and said if I didn’t contact him in 48 hours, he’d start driving. And he was serious. So, in order not to ruin his family’s holiday, I managed to call him via a nice San Diego couple’s cell phone laughing about the experience thus far.

After thanking God multiple times, my tension finally eased as I fell asleep to the sound of crashing waves that pounded the shore outside of my casita at the San Pedrito Surf Hotel.

Christmas morning at the San Pedrito Surf Hotel, Dec. 25, 2012.

Christmas morning at the San Pedrito Surf Hotel, Dec. 25, 2012.

Five days solo in Baja Surbring it on.

Merry Christmas, Yakie. Lights out.

As dawn crept over the mountains, I woke up to a chilly off-shore breeze. It was Christmas day and the point was well overhead. Surfers arrived in droves with longboards, shortboards, fish and SUPs. Though it was quite the crowded spot, I didn’t mind. The water was clear and 77 degrees with off-shore breezes combing the swell. With my board underarm, I plunged into the ocean to commence my vacation. The swell did not dip below shoulder high in my short five day trip.

I quickly made friends with locals, ex-pats and fellow travelers in the water.

My breakfast on Christmas day...hit the spot after a surf.

My breakfast on Christmas day…hit the spot after a surf.

Two days after Christmas came my birthday and I decided to surf Cerritos, a peaky sandy beach break. While surfing, I met two sweet fellows, Robert and Michael—brothers from Northern California— who immediately adopted me as their own. They did not hesitate to share their fresh food and tequila with me as well as take me on a tour of Todos Santos, a cute artsy town that sits right on the Tropic of Capricorn.

HA- how ironic…I meet a bunch of Capricorns locals around my very Cap. birthday. And we partied on the Tropic of Capricorn.

Belazul Swimwear fashion show, Dec. 27, 2012.

Belazul Swimwear fashion show, Dec. 27, 2012.

That evening we all returned to Todos Santos to check out one of the premier events, the annual fashion show, featuring local bikini line Belazul Swimwear fashioned by Todos Santos local chica, Joella Corado. Her husband, Kurtis, gave me a heads up about the show the day before, so when I announced my plans to my new-found friends, they quickly obliged to join.

My friends from Northern California: Robert and Mike and the best scallop and mango salsa creation with watermelon/tequilla.

Robert and Mike and the best scallop and mango salsa creation with watermelon/tequilla.

Between the colorful and tasteful fashion, bikinis and belly dancing and after party with a healthy supply of drinks and dancing, I decided this was the best birthday I could possibly have. And- none was planned. Not to mention an amazing sunset…who could ask for more?

My new motto: Plan to make no plans.

The guys and I accidentally left one of the truck windows down during the party…nothing was missing. Either there was a shamrock up my butt or the stereotypes are extremely far-fetched…but once outside of Cabo, I never felt unsafe in Baja Sur.

On my last day, a new swell had arrived and the point was firing! All types of people were on it early. However, the water temp did not compensate for the Aussie who shoved me off a wave. After the rude awakening, I made a valiant effort for more waves but soon resolved that reality was waiting for me at the airport and I still had not eaten a fish taco.

Fish Taco/Airport > Crowded Point

And God help me if I missed my flight…my next adventure had me turning right back around days later and crossing the U.S./Mexico border, again, with six boys.

Next Destination: Parts unknown 

Objective: Uncrowded waves

Sean, no doubt, was twiddling his thumbs til I arrived, his bags already packed.

Solo or not, I’ll be back, Baja! Count on it!

San Clemente

Dreamin’ Again…

Photo by: Sean Jansen

The sun outside my office dissolved behind a roof of stratus clouds and the night quickly crept in today. I miss my daily over-dose of vitamin D.  Although the surf has been scarce this season (and convieniently occurs when I’m off work), I can’t help but feel the swell future will be brighter.

After starting a new 9-5 office job, I’ve had to make some adjustments to my schedule and have never appreciated the ocean as much as I do now. Any inkling of swell sends me into a ravenous fury of excitement and frustration to plug each of my toes into the sand and then the Pacific rather than a stale pair of black heels. The suits I get excited about are my wetsuits and bikinis.

A little summer surf sesh in San Clemente.Photo by: Sean Jansen

A little summer surf sesh in San Clemente.
Photo by: Sean Jansen

November was a mellow month for surf in southern Cali, it seemed, and I couldn’t be more obliged. Had it been firing, so would my newly proclaimed bosses…and by their standards, it would’ve been my crazy ass for disappearing to places unknown. Despite this I still am planning on disappearing to parts unknown soon, but for now (and the majority of the time), hello beloved weekends and random “sick” days!!

Here’s to plenty more tales from parts unknown and weekend warriror days!

To check out more of my friend Sean’s amazing surf/nature photos, click HERE!