"All my favorite Zen masters said everyday life is the path. And since surfing was my everyday life, I sat at the ocean’s feet. She always had lessons. And she didn’t tithe. She didn’t have a hierarchy (even if some of the other surfers did) and she didn’t ask me to obey secret codes. She just ebbed and flowed, demonstrated impermanence, and slapped me around when I needed it. " --Jaimal Yogis, Saltwater Buddha: A Surfer's Quest to Find Zen on the Sea
You paddle out into the vast ocean and you patiently wait for the right moment -- when a wave swells to just the right place for you to furiously paddle into it and ride it out for as long as you can, feeling the thrill of being one with all that is. Have I just described the art of surfing or the art of living? Perhaps it's both.
I've never tried surfing (although I've been thinking about it since I moved to eastern Long Island about 3 years ago -- I'll get around to it eventually), yet I've often heard avid surfers describe how zen surfing is and how surfing mirrors their yoga practice (and their life). I suspect this is the reason for all of the surf and yoga retreats offered in exotic places.
"May you surf the power of the life force within you." --Shiva Rea Earlier this month, Acacia teamed up with the ever-popular Shiva Rea for a lovely DVD entitled Shiva Rea: Surf Yoga Soul. Rea, who practices yoga on her surf board in between sets, created the practices on the DVD to "bring the power of the ocean surf into your life." No worries if you've never stepped foot onto a surf board -- Rea created this physically challenging practices to develop strength and help you surf through life, as well as the water.
The DVD is in the usual style of Rea -- fluid, graceful, flowing, and quite challenging at times. The DVD also offers the ever-popular matrix option so that you can create a practice that suits your needs and/or your schedule. You can choose from the following menu:
Wave Meditation (9 minutes) -- this brief practice includes fluid circular movements, spinal warm-ups, lying on your stomach, making paddling movements with your arms to simulate paddling out on your surf board, and standing postures with fluid arm movements to warm-up the legs and the shoulders
Mandala Namaskar (12 minutes) -- this well-rounded practice includes hip openers, side openers, postures to build leg strength
Agni Namaskar (17 minutes) -- this longer set offers challenging sun salutes (which include plenty of pushups) with an emphasis on core strength
Breath Wave (5 minutes) --this break from the physicality of the rest of the practices on this DVD offers seated breath work (with an emphasis on ujjayi breath) with accompanying arm movements
Balance Flow (20 minutes) -- this set guides you through some interesting postures to build balance as well as some advanced arm balances
Flexibility Flow (11 minutes) -- this full body stretch is the perfect cool down with its shoulder stretches, back stretches, and hip openers
Savasana (2 minutes) -- I must be honest that I was a little disappointed that there wasn't a longer savasana after such a challenging practice. I would have liked a little more integration and rest time.
The DVD is beautifully produced and it will most certainly do what it promises -- build strength. Some may need to modify at first before they can built up to the push-up sequences and the advanced arm balances. In the introduction to this DVD, Rea says that these practices are a "way of awakening your life force, life energy." I, for one, was feeling pretty juiced after the practice (although I did feel some muscle fatigue as well), so I say Rea did a job well done.
As usual, I enjoyed Rea's flowing style of yoga and often found myself wishing I were practicing on a Mandala Yoga Mat, as Rea often instructs 180 degree turns on one's mat. The practices included in this DVD were a little less complicated/choreographed as some of her other DVDs that require a DVD to be watched in its entirety before practicing along. If you're a surfer, this DVD will absolutely help you develop the strength you need on your board. If you're a yogi who wants a challenging and fun practice, check out Surf Yoga Soul. You'll be glad you did -- and you just might feel the call of the waves.
Another yoga for sufers DVD that I must recommend comes from my friend Eoin Finn. Power Yoga for Happiness 2, the Surf Edition. This DVD showcases Finn's fun, laid-back style along with a strength and power-building practice that will make you feel like you can hang 10 with the best of them.
And while some of us search for wholeness and happiness on a yoga mat, others use different tools -- like surfing and Buddhism. Jaimal Yogis, author of Saltwater Buddha: A Surfer's Quest to Find Zen on the Sea, did just that. He left home at 16 in his quest happiness. Saltwater Buddha is a collection of his adventures in surfing and Buddhism and all of the fun that happened along the way. This easy-to-read book is filled with engaging stories and thoughtful insights and it's an absolute pleasure to read. It's a wonderful combination of memoir, travel adventure, and spiritual teachings -- without the attitude or the overly scholarly tone. You can learn more about Jaimal and his new book in this video:
Surfing, yoga, life -- it all seems pretty darned similar to me. Have fun riding the wave of your life force.