...but I've started creating again!
You know when you go to an event or gathering and although you only knew a handful of people in the crowd you’re like “yes, these are my kinda people!”?
I panicked a bit, would they kick me out if I wasn't a real life doctor? On the other hand, I did think that having a neurosurgeon-alter-ego would be a pretty fun.
Yoga is there to be free from a society that tells us to be prettier, skinnier, stronger, richer, more successful and replaces it with working towards a more accepting approach to where we are in life.
"Learning to hold your breath without preparation and under stress could save your life. I think divers and surfers also share the need to let go of trying to control their environment and circumstances and trust the body to do its thing."
You don't use the body to get into the pose. You use the pose to get into the body.
To all the Laaaadiiiiesss!!
Sorry, that was my attempt to sing...
Anyway, recently I created an online yoga class for surfers for Cooler Magazine. The magazine, if you haven't heard of it, focuses on all things women in board and action sports, and celebrated women kicking ass. Any they asked me to create a short class to go with an interview, which I was stoked about.
Cooler Magazine is particularly close to my heart because 3 years ago, when I was still a professional dancer, I won a week's surfing holiday with them (I know, who actually WINS these things!) in Portugal. That week was a tipping point for me and when I got home, all sandy, surfed out, tired and stoked, all I could think about from then on was "how can I change my life so I can do this all the time?"! It was from that moment on that things started to change for me, and if I'd told myself then what I was going to do over the next 3 years I couldn't believe it...
Enough of the all that, here's the class and full interview...
P.s thank you to Salt Gypsy for the rad surf/yoga leggings and top!
As anyone who has laid on surfboard and paddled their a**e off knows - your upper body strength can be the different between a short and exhausting surf and a long and less frustrating one.
When you see top surfers perform a turn you start to understand how acrobatic the sport actually is. A good turn is a manoeuvre, which requires the whole body to twist and bend. After a few weeks of starting yoga, I could twist my upper body and shoulders further, which allowed me to accentuate my turns, and make much sharper and swifter movements.
As I came to my final morning in Bali I took out a longboard with some of now-not-so-new friends who, over the last 6 weeks, have been my hosts, my family, my sounding board and my inspiration. Here are a few shots from my final morning in Balinese Sea...
I have been struck by the incredible sense and presence of spirituality in Bali. From the daily rituals and devotion from the Balinese people to the abundance of devoted yogis and the island's creative, entrepreneurial, openminded, multi-national community. Bali has given me a space to learn, rejuvenate, explore and play - both in and out of the water.
I find longboarding gives me a different way of expressing myself. I feel like I'm dancing again, which, as an ex-professional dancer, feels likes "home from home". This wave (in Canggu) is particularly giving, and also the best place for a "party wave". It's slow as anything, like it's handing you as much time as you need to explore and play while you trip, glide, fall and float towards the shore.
During my final surf session I took a moment to reflect on the last 6 weeks and to send out thanks to the people I've met in Bali and Lombok. I stopped myself from being too sad about leaving because I'll know I'll be back. Instead I'm taking with me everything I've learnt along, the people I've met and my rekindled drive and passion for life and what I do.
Sounds hippyish? Well then hell, I'm a hippy. My dad, if he reads this, will be rolling his eyes (but secretly proud! He is, after all, an artist who grew up in the seventies so he's only got himself to blame....).
(Next stop on the teaching tour - Banda Aceh!)
A lot of us live from the neck up.
What I mean by that is that we receive the fundamental information - sight, hearing, tasting etc - all from the same area (the head) and we relate to the rest of the body as this thing underneath us that kinda comes along for the ride.
As surfers, we try and do everything in such a short amount of time - from lying down to standing, bending, flexing, twisting and falling - in response to the unstoppable, fast moving water underneath us that'll certainly not going to wait around for us to take a second to organise our limbs.
We're asking a lot from our bodies and all too often get frustrated when it doesn't do what we want it to do.
Coordination isn't something you're just born with or without. It's something you can develop over time with practice and patients and that's where yoga comes in.
During a yoga class you're asked to turn your focus internally. You're encouraged to forget what you look like from the outside and to focus what it feels like from the inside. As a dancer I was often encouraged to correct myself by looking at my body's reflection in the studio mirror, so I was a little thrown (and relieved!) when I realised that I didn't have that help in a yoga class.
Not before long I started to really know my own body, it's limitations and strengths, where my limbs were in relation to each other and I started moving and even thinking with my whole body, and not just my head. I had a better understanding of where my whole body was in space (proprioception) and didn't need to look at a specific part of my body to be able to correct or change it.
Don't get me wrong, I still have moments when I lack any grace or coordination (I once almost took another girl's tooth out in a audition when I hit her in the face with my over-excited arm during a dance sequence), but I found that when I went back to surfing (probably after other similar, unsuccessful auditions) I was picking up and applying new tips and advise much quicker than before.
Surfing is a whole body experience - your body has to think and feel your way across the wave with an intuition that can't be thought out with only your mind. It's tough to develop that connection when everything is happening so quickly on your surfboard, but if you establish the relationship between your body and mind when you're out of the water than you'll start seeing the difference when you're trying your new moves/tricks/tips/whatever it is in the water.
I mean, I haven't taken anyone's tooth out (touch wood) when I've been surfing, so it must be working somehow, right?!
I'm often asked about the connection between surf and yoga. I mean, everyone knows that yoga will help their surfing (if Kelly Slater is doing it then it must be doing something good, right?), but what are the real connection between the two?
Acro Yoga Practice in Kerala, India. Thanks so much to Roland Hey for not dropping me and allowing me to fly!!!
Back in Sri Lanka. Third time in a year seemed a bit excessive, but luckily work calls me here (so I have a good excuse you come back).
Here are some shots from an afternoon on the south coast. Small waves but a lot of fun.