Lessons from Surfing and Yoga

Bodhi Surf + Yoga / Surf + Yoga Camp Blog / Lessons from Surfing and Yoga

We, like many small businesses and tourism companies, are feeling the impacts of the global coronavirus pandemic most acutely. We have been unable to operate normally since March 2020, and have no clear idea on the horizon when (and even if!) things will ever go back to normal. It’s been paralyzing, challenging, and stressful. We feel an enormous responsibility to our staff and our community to do whatever it is that we can to continue marching on. This urgency to survive is what has been fueling us.  Yet through this time, there have been also drastic changes to how we operate in our day-to-day. We have been so lucky to be able to reconnect in a deep way with and enjoy surfing and yoga — our raison d’être. Not only do we feel more resolved to continue finding ways to share our passions with the world in new and creative ways, they have also helped us in more ways than we can innumerate (but we will try!)

Overcoming COVID-19: How surfers and yogis deal with adversity

We allude to surfing and yoga being “much more than mere sports or pastimes” a lot here at Bodhi Surf + Yoga. We know this to be true both from personal experience, yet also from seeing the effects on our guests — especially if they have never experienced these ways of life before. Never before this strange moment in time that we find ourselves in have we given such thanks for having surfing and yoga in our lives. They have been truly life rafts for us in this incredibly challenging moment in history. Like many, we have taken this moment to pause and reflect. In this reflection, Bodhi Surf + Yoga staff member, Spencer Dunlap, managed to put down in words the ways in which surfing and yoga can help in hard times.

Lessons from surfing in times of adversity

1. We are used to change.

Change is a constant in our lives, as each day brings a different set of conditions. We do not resist this change; we immerse ourselves in it. We are not deterred by fickleness. Instead, we acknowledge that this is just the way things are sometimes. We adapt, improvise, and overcome.

2. We can hold our breath.

We know from experience that this hold-down cannot last forever, so we elect not to resist because straining only makes the situation worse. We conserve our energy and maintain our composure until it is time to resurface.

Spencer Dunlap bodysurf

3. We are resilient.

We keep pushing through a seemingly endless onslaught, but we are not phased by it, and we certainly do not let up. We know that respite is on the horizon. The struggle is what makes the good stuff so satisfying. And even though falling is a regular occurrence for us, we continue to rise to our feet time and again.

4. We are subject to nature.

We ebb and flow according to her rhythms. We take in our surroundings while maintaining a sense of awe. We revel in her mystery and give thanks for her healing properties. We recognize that we are just a strand in the web of life. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.

5. We are connected to the source.

We foster humility by surrendering to forces far greater than ourselves. We are recipients of energy that has traveled a great distance to us; all we can do is turn this dynamism into something beautiful.

Surfer in Uvita Costa Rica

6. We are independent.

We march to the beat of our own drum, always striving to express our own unique style. We keep space from one another, yet we know that we are all in this together. At the end of the day, we all have each other’s backs’.

7. We smile.

Smiling forces us to relax, as it demands less energy than frowning, and helps us maintain a positive attitude. The simple act of smiling serves as a reminder to why we are here: we are here to play.

8. We live in the now.

We cannot predict the future or change the past, so we focus on making the most of what is directly in front of us. We chase the eternal present because that is when we are at our best. Like water, we continually flow from one moment to the next.

Going back to surf after quarantine

Lessons from yoga in moments of challenge

1. We are flexible.

We cultivate this flexibility everyday through deliberate practice. Being flexible allows us to take whatever shape we need to. Rather than being stiff and resistant to change, we readjust to our circumstances and surroundings. We adapt, improvise, and overcome.

2. We focus on our breath.

Being aware of the cadence of our breath drops us into the present moment — the here and now. Breathing allows us to be intentional with our movements. We intuitively understand that the best way to deal with stress is to take a couple of deep breaths. Inhale, exhale — that’s it.

3. We push ourselves.

We do not take breaks simply because we are tired. We acknowledge that it is only when we are shaking with fatigue that the real work begins. We push through, knowing that this momentary struggle will make us stronger in the end.

Yoga off the mat


4. We take our practice off the mat.

We live our values and move with integrity. We embody empathy and demonstrate a deep sense of care and compassion for others through our actions. We elevate the lives of all with whom we come into contact.

5. We go inward.

We dive deep. We explore our inner world’s through meditation as we heal old wounds and traumas. Through this process, we forgive ourselves and others. We change ourselves before attempting to change the world.

6. We contemplate.

We take time to observe our thoughts, as well as the functioning of the world around us. Prudent observation allows us to act both thoughtfully and respectfully. We make good decisions because we grant ourselves the time and space to do so.

Yoga in times of adversity

7. We meditate.

Meditation puts us in touch with our true selves — the soul within us. We connect with that spirit and listen to its guidance. We use meditation to cultivate flow.

8. We live in the now.

We do not let our regrets and anxieties run the show. We practice mindfulness, which allows us to express who we truly are. We live in harmony with our Buddha nature. We are where our feet are.

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About the author

Spencer Dunlap