Surfing is my yoga, Surfing is my meditation

As you’re sitting there, chillin’, breathin’, reading this post, I thought I’d take a moment to say thanks for supporting AR-yoga! The word “yoga” is commonly associated with physical postures (asanas), but in Sanskrit, yoga simply means “to yoke, unite.” Thus, “yoga” can take on many different forms. AR-yoga was created based on my intention to unite & connect through ALL things that bring me joy. That goes beyond the physical practice of yoga postures (asanas), rather, this sacred space I’ve created under the domain name is a platform for me to express & share the things that I have explored & become passionate about- food, fitness, meditation, physical therapy, yoga, adapting yoga for disabilities, energy healing, photography, music, philosophy, & many more blissful things :)

Over the past year I’ve been immersed into surf culture. Which, of course, is pretty rad. Living in sunny SoCal, I don’t think I would let myself live it down if I didn’t take the opportunity to learn how to surf and find inner bliss on a board. Now everything from surf reports of glassy conditions to getting barreled and rodeo flipping my way off a wave have been on my radar. Although a newbie to the sport, I embrace everything surfing has to offer & can often see the parallels it has to my physical & mental yoga practice- patience, core strength, balance, awareness of breath (mmm, yeah…hello washing machine), self-study, & surrender. When someone says that they consider surfing their yoga or meditation, I totally get it. Learning to surf has given me an opportunity to explore the art of connecting with myself while simultaneously being a part of something so super mega bold and big, it’s beyond me. Join me, as I take you on a journey of finding spirituality in surfing.

The book, Spirituality: Living With Connectedness, describes aspects of spirituality in a dope way. It states, “Spiritual practices (including meditation, prayer and contemplation) are intended to develop an individual’s inner life; spiritual experience includes that of connectedness with a larger reality, yielding a more comprehensive self that interacts with other individuals or the human community; with nature or the cosmos; or with the divine realm.” Let’s explore meditation as a part of a spiritual practice…Meditation involves quieting the mind in order to redirect your attention into the present. Disengaging prior to focusing sounds like the ultimate paradox. Which may be why “reaching a meditative state” can be such an elusive concept. The focus page allows me to share ways in which meditation has become more accessible to me. On the focus page, I share the idea that it’s possible to quiet the mind while engaging in movement- known as moving meditation. It can be experienced during activities like swimming, running, hiking, painting, surfing, doing yoga or tai chi. When the body is moving & the mind is in sync with that & fully present, a meditative state may be easier for some to achieve. It has been described as feeling like you don’t even have to try, as if you’re connected to something much bigger than yourself.

For some, surfing goes beyond a lifestyle, rather, its a spiritual journey of sorts because riding waves is where they find their peace. I want to highlight how meditation can come to people in many forms- in this case, specifically, surfing. Kelly Slater has a strong yoga practice and acknowledges that there’s an interplay between the time his mind spends on the yoga mat & the show his physical and spiritual bodies’ put on in the water. After a day of pulling a few Kelly Slater tricks of my own while surfing 26th st in Manhattan, it occurred to me to me that I should ask some of the avid surfers that surround me for their perspective, opinion, insights, and thoughts on why surfing calms, relaxes, and resets them. Below, you’ll find quotes from people describing moments that capture this idea of “Surfing is my Yoga, Surfing is my Meditation.”

  • Surfing…is just that, its surfing. Its a part of me & I actually believe I need it more than I need sleep. I have been asked many a time from family and friends, “Why do you love surfing so much and what would you do with out it?” My answer usually starts with a smile. I am smiling because I am thinking about surfing and the joy it brings me- from the big days when I just get worked by mother nature to the small days when there are barley any waves at all. Once my mind and body are in the ocean everything goes away and all I think about is surfing, the water, and how breathtaking it all is. No matter what is happening in my day, in my week, and even in my life, all that really matters is that ONE moment in time when I’m surfing. In the past I’ve said, “surfing is my meditation”, but until I was asked to write this, I never really placed too much thought on what that actually means. All I know is that when I try to meditate, relax, breathe, and only think about my breath, I can never really get my mind still and/or silent enough to actually clear my head and “meditate.” But when it comes to surfing, it is all about clearing my mind. The calmness of the ocean, the feeling of mother nature picking me up and giving me a ride, or mother nature slapping me with water and telling me its all ok, just relax and feel the energy of the board underneath me- that’s when I feel in the moment & one with mother nature. All I can say is that I can’t really explain what surfing means to me without smiling and dreaming of surfing and how truly and honestly happy it makes me. Being a high energy guy, surfing is the one thing that balances me out, & really makes me the person and being I am today. -Ciav (Ciav moved from Chicago to California with every intention of learning how to surf. In fact, years prior to making the move, in moments of extreme clarity, his intuition always guided him back to this idea that he was born to surf. Now, happily immersed in the Hermosa Beach scene-he’s out in the water more days than not, sometimes even up to twice a day. He practices yoga, kills it in beach volleyball, and enjoys his full time gig as computer programmer. You can keep up with him at And P.S He really is always smiling.)
  • “Surfing is the only time I am truly at peace. The daily grind of the work commute, managing bosses and employees expectations, financial concerns, etc just disappears when I’m in the water. Even on a small day I can sit and watch the dolphins play in the water, the seagulls divebomb, the occasional seal poke his head up…where else can you be this close to nature in its purest form? And then on bigger days, when you catch that perfect right, you and the wave are in perfect harmony, & you’re jamming down it like it was what you were born to do- there is no other place I would rather be. To me, that’s pure joy. So needless to say, whether its a great surf day or bad surf day, it doesn’t matter, when I am in the water it’s always a great day.” -JPac (JPac was born & raised shreddin’ waves on the west coast. He actually didn’t pick up his first board until high school. In college, he had a 4 year stint on the east coast, but knew that California was where he needed to be. He moved back to Cali, taught himself how to surf in his late 20′s, calls HB home, & catches waves on the reg. He does his thing as an operations manager for a pharmaceutical company, is happily married to his super rad wifey, and is expecting twins in the spring of 2012.)
  • “Air’s natural tendency is to move from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure. We call this movement wind. When wind flickers across the ocean’s surface, it produces small ripples which provide a greater surface area that can then catch more of that blowing wind. Eventually these ripples become larger and larger until they cohere into wavelets and eventually waves, attaining their greatest size when they come closest to matching the wind’s speed. What makes this whole chain of events slightly stranger is that it is not the water itself traveling across the ocean as a wave, but merely the memory of the original wind’s energy being constantly transferred as vibration from one neighboring water molecule to the next. When I heard the roar of that wave behind me at Nusa Dusa, what I was actually hearing was the sound of the past arriving in the present with me directly in its path.” While effortlessly gliding down the face of a wave, “I didn’t know where I ended and where the wave began.” -Steven Kotler (Author of popular surfing memoir, West of Jesus: Surfing, Science and the Origins of Belief.)
  • “Yoga and surfing intersect on mental and spiritual planes…There was a poster of Swami Satchidananda, founder of Integral Yoga, in a full, flowing white robe and white beard surfing a Hawaiian wave. It read: ‘You cannot stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf.’ The saying speaks to a key yogic teaching about the mind: While you may not be able to calm your mind into permanent and utter stillness, you can learn to relate to the endless waves of thought in a more free and skillful way in order to surf them with grace…In surfing, just like Life, you learn that even the less-than-perfect waves & days are composed of the same substance, the same beautiful saltwater, as the perfect ones, and they can be experienced just as fully. Surfing, like yoga, is a challenge worth meeting day after day after day, no matter the conditions.” -Jaimal Yogis (Jaimal penned the book Saltwater Buddha: A Surfer’s Quest to Find Zen on the Sea- a chronicle of finding meditative focus in the barrel of a wave & eternal truth in the great salty blue. Check out the killer article he wrote for Yoga Journal entitled “Riding the Waves.”)
  • “We are united with the energy of the ocean. I don’t think there’s a real surfer alive who doesn’t have some sort of spiritual experience every time they paddle out.” -Peggy Hall (Creator of DVD series “Yoga for Surfers”)
  • Q & A sesh with well-known California based yogi, instructor, & surfer- Shiva Rea: “Do you consider surfing a part of your spiritual practice? One thousand and eight percent. Wave riding is a deep spiritual transmission of the pulsation and wave energy that is the essence of life. Has surfing affected your yoga practice and your teaching? My entire orientation to living yoga is about realizing waves of consciousness as the underlying flow of all that manifests reality. This translates physically as being able to feel pulsation and the flow of the fluid body…Surfing and yoga Palos verdes, cove, surf, sunsetcomplement each other, because they both hone and tone the fluid body. Have you had any transformative experiences in the water? Meditating during epic sunrises and chanting the Gayatri between waves. Surfing with dolphins right here in Malibu. Rainbows and sunsets while full moons are rising…there are so many experiences that they have all merged. The No. 1 reason to surf is to experience some of the most beautiful moments in nature you will ever have.” (Shiva Rea created a popular yoga & surfing DVD called “Surf Yoga Soul”. With the tai chi-like Wave Meditation she leads below, anyone can pick up on the energy of surfing in 3 short min.)
  • “The real zen of surfing, for me, is being in the moment, completely. As the wave presents itself, you do what is possible or what is asked of you to do. You find that line, you find the timing, & it’s just strange how if you do an off lip at the right section, it sets you up for the next section perfectly. There’s some kind of connection between people and the environment that seems so natural and when it’s done the right way & you see someone link things together on a wave in all the right ways, it’s like that thing already existed and that’s exactly what was supposed to happen. My ultimate goal is to tune into that at all times, my ultimate in life is to feel like I am really in tune.” -Kelly Slater (Slater is a 10x ASP world champion. Check him out below in Quicksilver’s Kelly Slater Mind, Body, Surf Series: The Mind Episode)

For more surf and yoga inspiration check out my Healthy Yoga, Surf, Music Road Trip up the Historic CA Highway 1, my Sunny-Sandy-Happiness Board on Pinterest, or my yoga surf music playlist below!

Always here to keep things flowin’,

xoxo ar

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