This July I attended a whole day yoga and surfing workshop in Aptos, a small vacation town south of Santa Cruz. The notice for the workshop came through the yoga studio where I regularly go and I was intrigued.
The event was organized by two great teachers: Jackie Long and Kristen Lansdale. The promise of was to do lots of yoga on the beach and to try some surfing. As a total novice to surfing, I was a little concerned about the last part. Will I be cold? Will I be able to do anything other than just tumble from the board? Will it be just too much? But my love of the style of yoga that Jackie teaches and great experience with her other workshops prevailed. So I signed up and also dragged along a good friend for support.
Thanks to Jackie and Kristen this turned out to be a perfect day, filled with fun and play. To start our adventure, we were greeted by about a dozen dolphins playfully moving along the coast. What a magical sight! This really set the tone for the day.
There were about 25 people in our group. We did warm-up exercises, playful games to get to know each other, got introduced to qigong by Kristen and then did a special "prepare for surfing" yoga session with Jackie. This preparation was really important. Jackie set the tone for surfing and our expectations. She encouraged playful enjoyment of the activity, rather than feeling that one ought to master a specific skill or a technique. One of her suggestions I remembered several times when I was later on the board: Just do a cobra pose. And enjoy floating on the waves. Everything else is an icing on the cake!
Well, that is exactly what I did. An hour and a half of surfing which involved positioning myself on the board, being pushed along with the waves, holding on for dear life for a few seconds (photo), being tossed over, getting up on my feet, trying again, ... The time just flew by. The wet suit helped enormously and I didn't even notice the cold water. At the end of it I was tired, but very happy.
After the surfing session, we had a well deserved lunch and a delicious nap. Then it was time for more yoga with Kristen and closing of the day with more motivational reflections and sharing in the group. Including saying thanks to each other and to the ocean and the nature for letting us play.
I am so glad I did this workshop! The next day I was tired and my upper arms were so sore from all that pushing and pulling. My face was burning from the sun, salt, sand and wind, but my heart was so light.
This is certainly one of the highlights of my summer. That special day on the beach stayed with me for many weeks. Later on, when I encountered challenging situations at work or home, I could tap into that feeling of joy and play. And say to myself: just do a cobra and enjoy the waves...