Yoga is the best way to wake up or wind down. It’s no wonder why so many surfers – kooks and pros – trust on it. Here at Star Surf Camps, I was happy to have such amazing yoga instructors to help not only improve my posture, tone and tension, but also my well being! This got me thinking: is this the reason why surfers incorporate yoga into their lives? Or is there something more to the story? I sat down with Wednesday and Sarah, two of our very own Star Surf Camps yoga instructors, to find out what’s up.
Why do surfers choose yoga?
Wednesday: Well to start there are many surfers who don’t do yoga! But I think there’s a real similarity between the movements of yoga and surfing. The positions that you take up in surfing like when you’re paddling or to when you’re pushing up taking the steps coming onto the board, are similar to many of the poses we do in yoga. I also think how surfing and yoga make you feel are very similar. Serious yoga practitioners or anyone who surfs regularly are both pursuing the same sensation. My first yoga trainings were around yoga for athletes, and I really feel yoga compliments surfing. But it’s also good for all forms of athletics. The good thing about yoga is that if there’s something that you like doing, yoga is going to help you do that better for longer.
Sarah: Yeah I agree. The things you need to be a good surfer are upper-body strength and flexibility. Confidence as well to get on a steep or scarier wave. I think yoga can help develop all of those things whether it’s more physical or mental. For example breath retention is practiced in yoga, and can help when you’re held under water for quite a while. There are so many things that are linked together; they are very suited to each other.
How did you get into yoga?
Wednesday: I did a lot a yoga for dance, doing ballet when I was younger. I met a yoga teacher here at Star Surf Camps who is now one of my best friends, and she opened my eyes to another aspect of yoga. I realised how much fun it could be, before I met her I didn’t feel how yoga could suit me. It goes to show how much your teacher can impact you!
Sarah: I think the initial interest was from my Auntie, she helped me with meditation. It was such an insight I was given from a really young age. Like Wednesday, I danced my whole childhood but it was the competitive side of dancing. I wanted to find a way I could still move my body in that way that was free and in a more accepting environment. When I first came to Star Surf Camps I was 16, and I met Wednesday! And I started doing my first yoga classes. Just seeing how that helped surfing was like “Yeah I want to do this”. And it just started from there!
Is yoga a good profession?
Wednesday: Yes and no. But that’s the same in any profession. When you’re a yoga teacher, a friend said you just help people breathe and relax and it’s so beautiful to be able to do that. But it’s also an individual profession, especially when you’re travelling, you’re supposed to have your own back. You have to learn to be able to negotiate, especially in a time where there is so much yoga available but there’s many people employing yoga teachers who may not be a part of the yoga industry. You have to figure out how you can express your value to your clients, which can be challenging. But then at the end of the day you always encourage people to pursue it – it’s something that’s connecting you to the surf, it allows you to travel, meet new people, and it just gets better and better to longer you do it.
Sarah: I feel like I’m changing the world! If it’s 5 people or 10 people that you reach out to in one session and you can make them feel in control of their conscience, or make them free, to come into a space and realise they are so much more than what they tell themselves. They then go to share that with someone and the effect continues. But I agree with Wednesday; because of the nature with yoga it’s hard to connect with that more professional aspect. There’s a side of it where you do have to get-by by teaching classes. But again that’s in any job! I think the difference in yoga is it doesn’t work in that system. You have to figure it out and do it for yourself.
Can yoga be used to help injuries or to avoid injuries from surfing?
Wednesday: It’s helpful for both if it’s done correctly. You have to imagine yoga is a physical activity and just like any other activity there’s a potential for harm. It’s not that it should be practiced without caution. It’s nice not just to have the strength and flexibility but the awareness throughout your body. When it comes to healing, the power of the relaxation is phenomenal. Without your body being able to relax and let go of stress or trauma that can come with an injury it’s difficult for your body to rejuvenate. Yoga can provide a sense of health awareness. We can recommend postures or poses that can help with rehabilitation. Yeah, I think it can lead to recovery.
Sarah: With the power of the mind, you’re coming into a more relaxed positive state, not only in a yoga session but after, it’s so helpful to heal your body both physically and emotionally. You should look at it as way to come back into this moment and identify problems. You can shift your focus on not what you’re able to do, but what you can do still. That is important when you’re recovering, to avoid emotions that make you feel limited.
Come join the yoga craze on your next surf holiday. We offer yoga sessions in all our Star Surf Camps!