This year my yoga practice landed me in Costa Rica twice and San Diego once to experience the power of riding waves. It was during one of my first times out on the water, lying on my board that I realized the strong parallels between these two powerful experiences: yoga and surfing.
Here are eight ways being on a surfboard (or on a mat) teaches you to fully ride the waves of your life:
1. Get out there and surrender to uncertainty.
It takes a certain level of courage to leave your comfort zone and connect with something bigger than yourself. To show up on the mat when you’re tired, out of shape, sad or lonely, or to venture out into the open waves of the sea and surround yourself with uncertainty requires renewed courage each and every time you come to your practice.
2. Connect with the elements.
Whether riding a wave, waiting for the next one, or coming to your mat and flowing through a yoga sequence, there's an experience of deep knowing and connection that arises.
We're all a part of this incredible landscape of earth, water, fire and air. We're all made up of the elements and to these elements we will one day return. This connection becomes abundantly clear when immersed in your practice.
3. Trust the rhythms of life.
Neither your yoga practice nor the waves can be rushed or forced. Every moment is brand new and ever changing. You must slow down, breathe and allow for the process – often it's in slowing down and waiting for the next set when true insights and breakthroughs occur. Wait for it, that perfect wave is bound to arise.
4. Don't give up.
Nobody begins their practice with perfect form or ease. It’s called practice for a reason: it’s a process, whether you’re riding waves or coming to your mat you must commit to your practice and persevere through discomfort, fear, doubt, anxiety, rough waters and terrain in order to progress.
As with anything in life; continuous effort and determination are the keys to unlocking your true potential.
5. Instead of fighting the current, ride the wave.
You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf. The more you fight against the current the more exhausted and discouraged you will become.Accepting what is, as it is, in each moment, is the only way that you will be able to progress.Find your flow and allow yourself to ride the wave of your life.
6. Focus on what really matters.
Cultivating a steady gaze and calm, patient mind is necessary both on the mat, in the surf and in the world. Life is full of distractions, which will send you crashing into the surf or veering far off course, if you allow them to. Set your gaze on the horizon, feel your connection and go with the flow.
7. Let go of expectations and seize the opportunity of each moment.
There are very few things in this life that you can truly control. The ocean cannot be tamed. Coming into handstand may not be accessible to you (yet). The more you attempt to control external circumstances and cling to expectations, ideals, or unrealistic goals, the more likely you are to miss out on what you can do, how you can be and the opportunities presented to you in each moment.
By letting go of how you feel things should be, you open yourself up to how things: this is true freedom.
8. Lighten up.
Life is short and our time is fleeting, so lighten up! Stop taking yourself so seriously. You are going to fall, waves are going to come crashing down on you. Enjoy the turmoil, embrace the moment. Give yourself permission to laugh, play and lighten your load.
Become courageous, connect with the world around and within you, cultivate patience, perseverance and focus, let go, flow and remember to lighten up.