Yoga and surfing go together magically. They both lead to a soulful experience where we are blown away by the radiance of life. In yoga we withdraw from the world and go inwards for this experience. Surfing is more an embrace of the world than a retreat from it. Both lead to the same joyful place but through different doors.
You've worked with a lot of pro-athletes -- how do they approach their practice/how do they use yoga to enhance performance?
I always tell athletes why I want to teach them. I ask them that if they found the fountain of youth in a forest would they want to hoard it or share it with others? People answer differently, but I want to share it. Intelligent yoga is that fountain of youth for athletes and it can greatly enhance their performance and extend their careers. I have seen athletes give up anti-inflammatory drugs, reverse back pain, and literally start winning Gold medals after slumping for half a year with just one week of yoga and meditation. It is so powerful. Why? Yoga done with proper alignment will allow for smooth joint functioning, it allows you to balance out soft tissue imbalances, the movements are slow and controlled so there is a lot of neuro-physiological re-patterning, it has a large restorative aspect which counters the wear and tear on the body. These are just physical. The really deep power of yoga for athletes is the ability to keep body and mind in harmony so we they can have grace under pressure.
Men and yoga -- what's the biggest misconception? Any advice for a guy who's thinking about hitting the mat?
They think it is all about flexibility and don't want to do it because they are naturally so much tighter than women or the thin wiry men that the yoga media often promotes. Men really hate to suck at things and I hear it all the time from them, "I don't want to go to class and embarrass myself."
I tell them two things: One to think yoga is all about flexibility is like thinking baseball is only about pitching. It's a large part of the game, but by no means everything. Secondly, the logic of avoiding yoga because you are too inflexible makes no sense, it is like saying you are too dirty to shower!
I get a lot of guys in my classes -- about 40% are men. My advice mostly is to share first hand the ways I feel immensely better in body, mind, and soul from yoga. All they have to do is put the ego aside, taking the pressure off to look good, and make a mission of leaving the yoga space feeling better than when they arrived.
You travel a ton -- how do you eat healthy on the road?
I actually try and limit my travel or put it into chunks of time. As a surfer, too much travel cuts into my surfing time. When I do though, it can be hard to get good food but I almost always manage to find it. I think you need to have the attitude of a hunter and gatherer -- constantly keeping your ear to the ground and seeking out prana-filled foods. You can usually find a yogi on the ground wherever you arrive and probe them for tips on where the source of good food is. When you find those places, stock up. I almost never travel without food. For example, I am leaving for D.C. tomorrow and before I went to bed, I went to a good raw restaurant here in Los Angeles. and packed a little picnic lunch for the plane. Sure beats the food at LAX. You have to think like that.