Calmer Waters

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During one of the glorious breakfasts of fresh fruit, huevos rancheros, black beans, and fresh-squeezed juice, I look out at the ocean and notice how calm and serene it looks. Our morning yoga practice takes place in an outdoor studio perched on a hill above the beach. Seattle-based Ashtanga teacher Troy Lucero leads us through a series of Sun Salutations, standing poses, and loads of Chaturanga Dandasanas (Four-Limbed Staff Poses). My yoga practice has always been strong and dynamic, and I revel in the athleticism this particular class requires. Still, as I move through the practice, I wonder if my drive, my eagerness to assert myself, can be a limitation as much as an asset. Thinking back to the ocean waters, I imagine bringing more stillness to the mat, the board, and life in general.

get out there

Why Go Apply aspects of your asana practice, especially balance and core strength, and elements of yoga philosophy-such as surrender, patience, and humility-to an exhilarating sport that fosters calm and connection with nature.

Tips Many yoga and surfing retreats take place in tropical locations-Bali, Mexico, and Australia to name a few-that offer a chance to enjoy hot weather year-round. If you choose a retreat with a busy schedule, you might want to stay a few extra days to visit with the locals and explore nearby towns or wilderness areas.

In the afternoon, I return to the water for a surfing lesson. The ocean is still quiet, and this time, instead of paddling, I simply float and wait. I watch the palm trees swaying in the wind, waves crashing against jagged rocks in the distance, the sunlight dancing on the smooth sea. And I begin to realize that this quiet moment, the waiting that is often dismissed as a waste of time, is as much a part of surfing as riding into shore. Finally, in the distance I see a small wave begin to arc.

Trip Rundown Via Yoga (viayoga.com) yoga and surf retreats run year-round. Prices start at $2,395 for seven days and six nights at Villa Amor, an open-air oceanfront villa in Sayulita, Mexico. The package includes two yoga classes and surfing lessons daily, breakfasts and three group dinners, a day trip to nearby Punta Mita, massage, and airport transportation.

More Around the World

Liquid Yoga + Surf (liquidyoga andsurf.com) in New York and Costa Rica; Lucero Surf Retreats (lucero-surfretreats.com) on Costa Rica's Pacific coast; Milagro Retreats (milagroretreats .com) in British Columbia; Samudra (samudra.com.au) in Australia, Morocco, and the Maldives; and SwellWomen (swellwomen.com) throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

I turn my board around, paddle strongly, not rushing anything, and finally push up to standing. The water lifts up my board, and I surf toward the sandy beach.

When I return to California, I'll take with me a new love of surfing. But more than anything else, I'll have found the willingness to surrender to the quiet moments, the downtime, in yoga and any action-packed experiences to come. *

Elizabeth Winter is a writer and yoga teacher.

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