America's Best-Selling All-Natural Cat Litter adventure by Elizabeth Winter
On a surfing retreat, the yogic principles of effort and surrender help novice surfers enjoy the ride.
It's midday, and the sur is beating down on the sleepy Mexican beach town ofSayulita. As the surfteacher and our group paddle out to where the waves begin to break, I'm grateful to be surrounded by the cool Pacific waters. Looking out onto the ocean's expanse, I feel an adrenaline-charged mix of :onfidence and fear. When a wave approaches and begins to crest, instructor Israel Preciado signals me to turn my board around so he can push me strongly into the wave. "Paddle, paddle," he yells. "Now up!" To my amazement, I settle into a standing position. Following instructions from our first lesson on the beach, I keep my knees bent, shift my weight from one foot to the other to control my speed, and ride the wave all the way into shore.
I've traveled here to dedicate some time to my yoga practice and also to learn how to surf— something that I've wanted to do for years. Via Yoga, a Seattle company specializing in yoga vacations, has been leading yoga and surfing retreats in Sayulita since 2002. Our seven-day trip is divided between daily surfing lessons with Preciado and some serious time on our mats. Our twice-daily Ashtanga Yoga classes emphasize balance as well as core and arm strength to improve our chances of catching waves. But to start, one of our first lessons is about how to balance effort and surrender. In my yoga practice and in my life, I often find myself straining more than relaxing, and thriving on the rush I get from pushing myself to my limit. This approach, we're warned, won't work for surfing. Instead, this week we'll engage patience and nonjudgment even as we do the physical work it takes to get up on the board.
Back on the beach, though, I am elated. I had hoped that by the end of the retreat I would be riding waves, but I never expected to get up on my very first try The five other yogis in our group cheer from the water, where they're waiting for their turn, and I dash back into the ocean, ready to do it again.
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