I came to Biarritz committed to surfing every day come rain or shine, charting my process with 3 videos per day, and getting amazingly better over the month. I thought I’d make a little motivational video, aka you can do it. Hahahahaha
The Dream & The Reality
I think I can honestly say I am a worse surfer than when I came out. It’s belly holding hilarious. I have surfed one foot waves and fall off repetitively, I have got into the sea with 9 foot waves and bailed superfast and I have spent a lot of time on smallish waves mashing it up. I’m wondering if the term ‘surfing’ is inappropriate for what I do with a surfboard in the ocean. My children, both who have been on surf boards since they were titchy find my abilities gobsmacking. They don’t know how I can spend so much time doing something I’m so bad at.
The number one lesson the waves have been teaching me is humility. I came out, bought ‘Mimi la Planche’ and imagined how much better I’d be on leaving. I go out, swim suit on, somewhat looking the part, and then I nose dive. I thought over the Summer I would unlearn my special seal like wave catching technique – I belly flop onto the board as the wave comes, using the slap of mybody onto the board to gives me momentum and then I blubber up the board like a walrus. Turns out I’m still quite attached to this technique. I thought Id manage a pop up on a mini wave. This has improved, but has involved a lot of bruises, right shin is telling the story. My sister Jo reminded me mid holiday of humility and the waves, and she was so very right. Every day I go out, feeling like a fraud with my lovely board, ready to crash and burn. That’s proper humility. In yoga that same humility is very valuable. Letting go of the image of fabby leggings, uber mat and flashing flexible legs is the first step to real humility of embracing your physical body and movements as they are. There is a joy in both yoga and surfing that defies what can be seen by an onlooker.
Know your zone of joy
Know how much danger and safety you thrive on. Everyone’s different. When my daughter surfs she wants an adrenalin kick. I do it for a white moment of togetherness – so where and how we surf is completely different. My daughter and a surf instructor have questioned why I don’t go out further. It’s simple, I surf for joy, and that means I don’t need much. It’s the same for yoga, you don’t have to keep doing more complex and impressive poses – you can just enjoy it. Yes, its true, you can just find what suits you and really enjoy it.
Humans are dangerous, particualrly those with little awareness
The waves can smash you up for sure. You need to know what’s happening with the waves, as a number of my naïve mistakes have proven. Even more than this you need to look out for what other people are up to, in the water they’re the most dangerous thing. When others have hit me it’s never been malice, just lack of awareness. A beginner let go of her board which hit me across the neck and gave me nerve pain. It was scarey and the bay watch savetuers and her instructor helped. Amazingly, in 2 hours I was, remarkably, right as rain. This was a real lesson in watching others. So in life, look out for others, not the ones you think are ‘bad’ but the ones who are going around not noticing. There are next to no ‘bad people in the world, just usually people struggling and living as best they can. In yoga watch for others and their expectations or needs from you. Your yoga teacher may want you to value her classes, or expand your movement, your fellow yogi may want you to agree Savasana was too long that night. Stand in your truth, your body and just watch what is going on around you. You can make all the space you need to just be where you are.
Bare all, including non-attachment
The whole body thing has given me ample scope for non-attachment and humility. The beach is teaming with glorious young people and stunning surfers. I’ve never been a fan of having my bum out in public, strange that ; ), and now I do what I call the surfing walk of shame. It involves leaving the house in swimming costume and sneakers, walking through the crazy pretty town, filled with slightly swish people, in clothes. And then it improves. To get to the waves I walk past the casino, the glorious cream yellow casino on the epic sea front, outside it swathes of pretty French cafes, filled with holiday makers surveying the sea sights from their high priced veranda view. And oops, here comes Susannah, hair a tad matted, and 53 year old bum inevitably keeking out of swimsuit. A surf photographer took a sweet picture of me, which again challenged my ability to bare all – thanks Fish and Shots (amazing surfing photos!). I’m taking this as a practice of non-attachment. Keep walking, yes I wobble. Yes I’m spoiling their glamorous view, keep walking. They’re eating fancy breakfast and I’m walking past half-naked, keep walking. Want to feel shame? Don’t do it girl. Walk your walk. Own it. Let it go. None of this matters. In yoga our bodies are on show, the teacher will look at your body, and often we are not used to this feeling, it can feel really challenging to have someone notice us. As a yoga teacher you have to let people look at your body to learn, another layer. So the next time you are not quite sure how to twist, turn or react. Come back to the waves of the ocean. Come back to your body and breath out. Be really present, really listen, really honour the present moment and everything you are in it.