A lot of people say that yoga and surfing are complementary to each other…for example, the flexibility that one gains for yoga can definitely help in surfing, especially when you have to crouch into that little ball as you speed through a mini-barrel. Conversely, the upper arm strength that you gain from paddling in the water can help with all those arm balances and inversions that you do on the yoga mat…
Sometimes, though, the transition from yoga mat to surf board, or conversely, from surfboard to yoga mat, is a bit more difficult. For myself, it feels more challenging to transition from yoga to surfing, then from surfing to yoga. Surfing is energizing, for one thing, and yoga tends to have an opposite effect. Then sometimes I get distracted by the thought of surfing when in yoga, especially if I know that the waves are good. It’s almost as if I need to expend that energy in surfing first, and then stretch and relax in yoga…though of course, with ashtanga yoga, going through the vinyasas is not always relaxing.
But, once the mind makes its journey through yoga and finds its quiet place, it is hard to get back up to that energized level. My muscles are relaxed after savasana and want to stay that way. I find that I tend to catch less waves after yoga, either because I am too mellow psychologically to jockey and position myself for waves, or too tired, or both. Sometimes the transition from a peaceful studio, where everyone stays in his or her place on the yoga mat, to an unpredictable line up in the surf, with unpredictable surfers, sends me in a tailspin. One day, after a wonderful and blissful practice, I paddle out to the line up at my favorite spot, and listen to two surfers yelling, “Oh, yeah? Well, fuck you, that was my wave!”
“Oh YEAH? Well, FUCK YOU!”
Not to mention, a bunch of newbies showed up, and tried to position themselves so that they can claim a wave that I wanted to catch. I resist the urge to yell “Fuck you!” but found myself wondering, “OK, so why am I here? I worked hard to get to a good place, and now I’m back at a bad place.” Me no like dat.
Of course, I can almost hear some dear friends and family members saying, “Ida, you’re crazy, how can you have energy to do both?? Some people don’t even have energy to do one of those things!” I argue that this is due to my Pitta-Vata nature…or perhaps a mild version of ADD. I have always had an excess amount of energy, and my mother used to say that I never stopped moving. I used to do triathlons, so doing only two workouts doesn’t seem so gargantuan. Of course, in my older age now, doing just one physical activity seems to suffice very well! Still, if If I don’t get even my one physical activity, I become very restless, hyper, and irritable…so all this intense exercise is a nice alternative to ritalin or xanax. I’m much more pleasant and relaxed after my exercise…and after I argue this point, no one can really disagree with me.
As for enjoying surfing or yoga more, I try hard not to have any expectations anymore, though I try to be aware of them. Just not identify with them. The ideal day is when I can surf first and do yoga later, but that may not always happen. Sometimes, because of the tide or whatever reason, I do yoga first and then surf. I try to flow through it, and just be grateful that I have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the ocean, and the bliss of yoga practice.