Yoga and Surf – In Complete Harmony

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Yoga and surfWhat is the connection between yoga and surfing?

Yoga and surfing are both physically active channels that facilitate the connection between mind-body-earth, and both activities have been said to assist in the quest to find balance with the natural world that surrounds us.

Revista Perfil, a Costa Rican magazine that focuses on the modern woman, interviewed Bodhi Surf School founders, Travis Bays and Pilar Salazar, to get some insight into the connection between yoga and surfing. The following is a translation of the original Spanish-language article.

Perfil Magazine Interview with Bodhi Surf Founders

Travis Bays and Pilar Salazar share their thoughts with Michelle Soto from Perfil Magazine.

*written by Michelle Soto and translated by Travis Bays

Passionate about what they do! Pilar Salazar is a yoga instructor and Travis Bays, not only surfs, but had a surf school in the United States and now teaches the sport in Costa Rica.

Apart from the life they lead together, in January they launched a project that combines these two passions. “We made a decision: continue on the path of love. Pilar with yoga, me with surfing and the two of us with nature, ” explains Bays.

The couple has a conviction that goes beyond the norm and these physical activities, yoga and surfing, and their underlying philosophy, allows them to connect with their surroundings and establish communion with the environment, which leads to humility and respect for the planet.

“As human beings, we are an expression of life, and we can connect with nature. Instead of seeing nature as being different, see it as being the essence of who we are as humans,” said Salazar.

It’s no wonder then, why their classes are played out in Marino Ballena National Park in Osa.

Yoga for Surfing

In her classes, Salazar combines different practices like Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow and Yogaworks teachings. The idea is to create movement sequences that not only facilitate cleansing the body of toxins but also to increase energy, balance, strength and flexibility. She also integrates breathing exercises and relaxation techniques.

In this sense, one of the contributions made by yoga to surfing is given by its philosophy. “One of the things yoga has taught me is, to be present. To not think of the past or future. One cannot be in the clouds while surfing, “says Bays. “It teaches the mind to be in the moment in a more deliberate manner,” adds Salazar.

Another point is breathing. In yoga, you are taught to breathe properly and control your inhalations and exhalations. According to Bays, when you surf you need to know how to control yourself because you are in the hands of the sea.

Overall, practicing yoga positions will help you to stay on the board, improve posture, balance and have more flexibility when making turns in the waves. Also, before entering the water, yoga gives the muscles a good stretch.

Surfing for Yoga

Bays’ classes begin in the sand. There, he explains surfing basics, as well as safety procedures, rules and surf etiquette. Then he takes the student into the water where he teaches how to stand on the board, paddle, and catch a wave. But there’s more. While surfing one is in contact with the energy that comes from the waves and therefore it is necessary to learn to read the sea, to understand its currents and be aware of its greatness. That is probably the most important lesson that surfing gives to yoga. In the water you are connected with the fullness of the environment.

Additionally, surfing is a cardiovascular exercise that requires built muscle resistance. It works legs, and upper trunk, back, shoulders and arms. It is nothing like lifting weights, for the reason that it shapes the muscle from within; a sort of inner strength if you will. For that reason alone, surfing complements well with yoga. Furthermore, surfing postures and movements that are applied while surfing are very useful for learning alignment postures in yoga.

Pilar Salazar and Travis Bays cater to both individuals and groups through direct contact or local hotels around the beach in Uvita, Osa. Their idea is to offer a personalized service.

Another fact worth highlighting: a percentage of their earnings from the project are intended to reinforce Siempre Unidos para Reforzar nuestro Futuro (SURF) a youth program designed by Bays, that helps kids in the communities near the Marino Ballena National Park.

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About the author


Travis is a head surf instructor and social entrepreneur at Bodhi Surf + Yoga. When Travis is not at the beach getting guests stoked on surfing, he is probably at a community meeting, on a Skype call, or spending time with his lovely daughters, Maya and Clea!

1 Comment

  1. […] Lengthening, stretching, opening, strengthening. Being present and experiencing each moment. Yoga is the perfect complement to surfing for both body and […]

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