I met Natalie many years ago surfing at Pavones in Costa Rica. It was a small, but fun day and I remember we saw some dolphins jumping out of the water and she immediately started paddling over to say hello to them. That image stuck with me of how devoted she was to the ocean and her strong connection with nature. Many moons have passed and I am glad to see she is still living her dream of dancing with the waves and practicing yoga energy activism. Thanks for sharing your time and wisdom Natalie!
Tell us how you believe that ecology, yoga, and surfing are related…
I’ve always been passionate about all three (eco yoga surf), but as time went on I found ways to intertwine them more intrinsically… practicing yoga outdoors or on my SUP I would able to experience a greater sense of nature… through surfing I would have milliseconds of clarity between the waves and uncover layers of mindful meditation to fleetingly relish in the same peace I found flowing through vinyasa on my mat… I learned to witness my body and my breath, as much as I would other species like dolphins and whales with a curiosity and wonder that expanded into immense gratitude for being alive on this incredible planet. Everything is connected and I began to learn this truth through my explorations, internally through yoga and externally through surfing and environmental campaigns around the globe. During my recent permaculture studies I was able to break it down and understand things more pragmatically… the planet is our zone 5, the wilderness and the wild that makes up our global habitat; and our body zone 00 the most intimate space in which we inhabit. Yoga is the permaculture of the heart, the tool to enable us to observe ourselves. Our task is to stay present and rooted in our body, understand our own mind, “know ourselves” and then we can begin to cultivate our garden, drive our vehicle in the right direction and travel between the zones and the edges of this world as consciously and mindfully as possible. The Yoga Farm in Costa Rica was where I first encountered and truly experienced a strong connection between ecology and yoga; it was a turning point being able to practice and teach yoga in the jungle!
What are some challenges that you face as a traveling yoga teacher?
Can you share some wisdom of how to “travel lightly”?
How do you deal with societal pressures that may come from living an “unconventional” lifestyle?
What does YogaRama mean to you?
Any advice on how to practice living yoga by answering the call to action?
Be open and receptive to “messages”! I first shifted into activism because I saw photos of pilot whales being killed and it propelled me into taking part in my first protest. That led on to years of campaigns; with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Surfers Against Sewage, Surfers for Cetaceans and Women for Whales; where the energy of individuals and collectives would help carry me. However, I would also feel drained so I found my way back to yoga to ask some important questions. Was I living in tune with my body, or was I exhausted and fighting, coming up against conflict – internally and externally? I realized I needed more balance and to heal some past wounds, so had to let go of some commitments. Not long ago I asked the question if I could help the planet through teaching yoga. I believed the answer to be YES! So this has helped draw the three themes of surfing, yoga and permaculture together in my mind. The final piece in the puzzle is how this will manifest as projects or ventures, I visualize myself and the global surf and yoga community stepping up to the plate of environmental custodians, and I’m excited for how this intention unfolds. As a surfer I have been exposed to so much devastation but I see the land as where the changes need to happen – our physical practices of dealing with food, waste, shelter and water; our mindsets and resistance to change; our outdated systems and linear economy; our disconnection from nature and our food… all this can truly shift towards something more positive. And every individual has the power to increase the shift by waking up.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? How do you balance “living in the moment” while also having goals and growing as a person?
As humans I think we are becoming very good at manifesting our desires and, seeing our goals accomplished helps to reinforce the strength of the ego mind and self power. I am trying to balance my “I want”s and the “doing” with how that can also serve the planet and my community, and being open rather pushing. And at every step I take a couple of moments to address the why behind any intention. Being playful, joyful and seeing the humor in my unfolding human drama is absolutely essential, for when things don’t turn out as expected or inevitably go wrong. Surfing always helps me to bring me back down to Earth. Sometimes you catch the wave, sometimes you fall off and sometimes you get the ride of your life! Understanding the concept of dharma has helped me to transition into doing something I love as a living… so that it feels like I am actually living and growing with every day. Teaching yoga and surfing energizes me, it fills me up and so it feels right and necessary to do this as a profession. I hope to study and practice sustainability on a deeper level and find ways to interlock the practices of permaculture into surf and yoga tourism. Hmmm…. in 10 years time I hope to have a wonderful, supportive partner, a family I have time to enjoy and connect with, a permaculture property overlooking a point break, a yoga studio, a kitchen to indulge in raw chocolate making and be connected to a conscious community of special humans.