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The Soul Surfer Package, “now that has a nice ring to it”, I thought last Thursday when I met Leah (Yoga & Surf with Leah) for a fun morning of what else, but surfing and yoga. Having taken a few surf lessons previously in Sayulita, but never from someone who was also a highly experienced yoga instructor, I was looking forward to learning how Leah’s teaching techniques and energy would differ from that of my previous instructors.
Upon meeting Leah, a woman with a big, bright smile and a warm, vibrant personality, I knew I immediately liked her. Seventeen years as a yoga instructor (and Leah is only 34 years old), a calm energy exuded from her as she explained the yin and the yang of the Soul Surfer Package; the high from the adrenaline of surfing and the neutralizing of the nervous system with the restorative yoga.
A huge proponent of safety in the water, Leah asked me, and my friend, Paola, about our fears of surfing. Me, being a self-proclaimed wimp, I’m afraid of everything (massive waves, rocks, crashing into other surfers, you name it), and when Leah nodded in understanding, it immediately put me at ease.
We started the private session at the yoga studio, Moon Shala, in Sayulita for a short visualization of our perfect wave, the excitement of catching it, and an overall feeling of safety. Next we practiced real life techniques of safely getting up on the surfboard, and discussed how we are captain of our surfboard, and as such, we have 18 feet (9 feet of board and 9 feet of leash) of responsibility.
Getting into the water, sparkling from the sunlight, with more than perfect beginner waves, it was time to put what we learned to the test. One hand on the tail of the board, and one hand on the side of the board, (the Captain’s position), I could easily maneuver into deeper water as the small waves were coming in. Once we got about waist deep into the water, I hopped onto the board and paddled, using my entire body as Leah had taught us. We found a spot, safely away from the line of other surfers and children playing in the water, and watched for waves coming in, with Leah pointing out how even the smallest ripple in the distance can be an ideal surfing wave.
It only took a few minutes for an ideal wave to come in for a beginner surfer like me. (In the past, I had been taught a sort of “pop-up” technique, more of a “jump into surf position”, but what Leah had taught us was more methodical.)
As I turned to face the shoreline, Leah told me to paddle, plant my hands on the board, do a cobra, and take a deep breath (thank you, I needed that!).
I then continued with what we had been taught in the studio; position my body into a downward dog, step my back foot (the leashed foot) up just a short distance, then step my front foot in front of the other foot, and then stand with knees slightly bent. Well, I tried to do all that, and the next thing I knew, I found myself in the water.
Leah was nothing but encouraging, and pointed out that I had looked down, rather than gaze in front of me. For the next wave, she suggested I keep my gaze just above the palm trees, and guess what? I was able to better stay on the board! With each wave I caught, the better I was able to feel its push under me and put the techniques Leah taught us to practice. Her endless cheery disposition, passion for surfing, and helpful advice made the experience an extremely positive one, and with each wave, the better I got, and the more confident I felt. I even ended up catching a wave all on my own, which is the first time I’ve ever done that!
Back in the studio at Moon Shala, we positioned ourselves on a yoga mat in a child’s pose, which felt incredibly calming since I still felt a buzz after the excitement of catching the Sayulita waves. As I further relaxed into the pose, I felt my body weight sink into the yoga mat in a grounding position, and felt a wonderful sense of peace overcome me. The stretch itself felt incredible after the exertion of surfing, and I felt like I could comfortably stay in that position indefinitely. We did several other poses, including pigeon’s pose and a side back stretch, and with each pose, I felt further relaxed. Leah incorporated lavender, rose, and eucalyptus oil, as well as an amethyst (placed on particular spots on our body), known for peace and stability, into our yoga practice.
The Soul Surfer Package ended with a second visualization and the beautiful, soothing sound of a gong. Leaving the yoga studio (and all throughout the day), I felt refreshed, relaxed, and mentally and physically empowered from the combination of surfing and yoga. Leah definitely got it right when she combined the adrenaline rush of surfing and the calming, restorative benefits of yoga!
Whether you’re here on vacation or live here full time, the Soul Surfer Package with Yoga & Surf with Leah is a wonderfully unique coupling of two different worlds! (And is highly recommended!)
If you’d like to experience this 3-hour surf and yoga package for yourself, contact Yoga & Surf with Leah here.