Why can’t I just roll out my yoga mat and put on a youtube video and follow the postures they demonstrate? Or just grab a surfboard and paddle out there? How hard can it be to learn the skills on your own?
Well, of course you can. Learning by doing is an old and sometimes very efficient way of mastering a new skill. You will probably learn the yoga postures from that instructional video after a while. You will probably be able to stand up on your board after some time of trying and being tossed around, and you will eventually catch a few waves.
So why do you need a teacher?
Because that YouTube video will never be able to correct you if you are doing something wrong. The instructor in the video has no idea of where you are that day, how your body or mind reacts to certain movements and why you can’t get into a certain posture. Yoga is a healing practice, which aims to open up both body and mind, but without the proper knowledge of breathing and moving into postures with ease, you can easily hurt yourself.
Learning from a video has probably helped a lot of people getting started, but there are risks: that you might end up injuring your knees pushing yourself into lotus pose, for example, or injuring your back doing deep backbends you are not ready for. A yoga teacher who sees your practice can adjust you, tell you what details you need to work on, keep you from pushing yourself too hard and challenge you to try again when needed.
The same thing goes for surfing. Yes, it is possible to learn on your own, but with someone teaching you the basics from the start, showing you how to control the board, how and when to move your body and when to take the next step, you will probably be catching those waves much sooner than you thought. The teacher’s job is to encourage, motivate and teach you how to safely enter the ocean. To let you know when to paddle, when to get up, to help keep you calm when the waves toss you around, and to let you know what you are doing wrong when you feel like nothing is working.
A guru can help keep you safe and motivate you
Learning the basics is the key, without a strong foundation and patience you might get yourself in more trouble than experiencing that bliss and calmness of the ocean. With the guidance of a teacher you will feel safer and more confident to one day become an independent and aware surfer, mindful and respectful, with a deeper understanding of the ocean and the waves.
Just like a yoga teacher, the surf instructor is there to make you more aware of what you need to work on, pushing you to try if you are hesitating too much and keeping you from hurting yourself by attempting things you might not be ready for.
So yes, safety is a big thing here, it is probably one of the main reasons why we should find our guru for both surfing and yoga. Motivation is another reason, practicing on your own can be tough and sometimes frustrating. Having someone there to remind you to “keep on trying!” when all you want to do is give up is worth gold.
Someone to keep you on track
Awareness is another good one, we practice to be more aware of our surroundings and ourselves but in the beginning you need some help to get there. When you start something new there is a lot to think about:
- Am I breathing right?
- Are my arms in the right position?
- What if I fall? I don’t think I can do this!
- What if I try it like this? Oh I didn’t see that coming!
- How is it even possible to do that with my legs?
The mind can easily go bananas and you can’t possibly remember everything at once. Sometimes you need to hear the same instructions over and over again before it actually hits you. To be more aware of your own body and the ocean you need practice, patience and someone to guide you on the right path.
So while there are tons of helpful YouTube videos, tutorials, do’s and don’t’s and helpful tips from experts out there — both when it comes to surfing and yoga — they will never replace the importance of a teacher who invests their time in you. Who sees you for the person you are, with all your fears and weaknesses, who follows your journey and takes you deeper.
Let your guru show you the way, but don’t forget that you are doing the work.
Written by Anastasia Konstadinidis