Take a moment to meet Stacey Jones, the creative light and master mind behind the new project, iSurf iYoga (ISIY). We at Yoga Trade relate to and are truly inspired by the goals and passions of ISIY and are excited to share their efforts that encourage transformation, adventure, sustainability, and community consciousness.
How did ISIY come into fruition?
The initial seed was planted when my girlfriends and I formed a mastermind group to support one another in achieving personal goals, which for most of us was aligning passions with a career. Through that I honed in on the greatest sources of inspiration in my life: surfing, yoga, travel and nature. Initially I thought I would set up my own surf yoga retreat but after researching what was out there I discovered that my favorite female surfer, Holly Beck Obermeyer, had just started offering retreats in Nicaragua. Forgetting everything else, I decided to attend the retreat. I was hesitant to travel to Nica as I had experienced a scary robbery back in 2002 while passing through Managua on a solo surf trip to Costa Rica. Over the years though I heard positive stories from friends who went there, so I felt it was time to put the past behind me and travel to Nica.
The waves were awesome and the people of Nica were lovely. It was incredible watching Holly ripping it up in the waves up close and she was just as impressive on land. Holly is a true ecopreneur with side projects like http://hipehabitat.com/ where she and her husband find sustainable ways to build. Equally inspiring was meeting the owners of the eco-retreat centre, El Coco Loco and learning about their non-profit called Waves of Hope which supports local community projects. I knew this was the type of experience I wanted to talk about and be in a position to support such endeavors.
Additionally, it took a long time to sift through all the options online before I left for the retreat, so I had the idea at that point to create a website that would bring the surfing and yoga community together in one place where they could easily and confidently find their next adventure. After the retreat, I knew this is exactly what I wanted to spend my time doing. I could see support for the surf yoga connection – that surfing and yoga are the perfect match – through a growing number of people. Surfers and yogis I admired for a long time were becoming known for it like Holly, Eoin Finn and Rochelle Ballard.
Where does your heart lie in ISIY?
The ‘i’ in our name stands for inspiring, which is at the core of what I’m trying to do: it’s really about inspiring people to get in the flow in order to bring about transformation in their lives. ISIY’s mission is to bring a wave of positive energy, health and happiness to the planet by inspiring people to get in the flow. Humans need tools to help them find peace and come alive. I believe coming alive involves being fully present, surrendering yourself to the moment, getting out of your mind and in your body, connecting with the elements (feeling that energy) and tapping into your spirit. That’s what we are referring to when we say ‘in the flow’.
Surfing and yoga provide a direct link to this experience. Other ocean sports like kitesurfing, windsurfing, body-surfing, etc. get us in the flow too. There is something about riding a wave – which is basically just energy flowing across the planet and you connect with that energy each time you surf. Yoga is well-known for providing us the means of getting in the feeling of flow any time or in any place, all you need is your body. Yoga is undoubtedly the biggest inner journey I’ve experienced (with a meditation practice). You reach new levels all the time, with unexpected ah-ha! moments and reaching new spaces in your body, making space in your mind… all of which in turn affects your state of flow.
I absolutely adore people, learning about other cultures and connecting people to each other. In addition, my heart lies in sustainability. It’s important we support retreat and course operators whose hearts are in it and whose offerings do not harm anyone or the environment. So I guess what’s driving me is really a combination of all these things. It gets me excited connecting people to these experiences that help them transform and come alive.
Though we don’t need to go very far to find transformation – only a quiet place to sit – I believe humans are inherently seekers and feel we need to explore in order to ‘find ourselves.’ And so, traveling away from home and outside of our comfort zones becomes an integral part of our journey. Also, there’s something to be said about taking time out of your schedule for personal development. It’s a powerful thing to intentionally carve out time and space with the goal of increasing your health and happiness!
Can you give us an example of a community conscience surf/yoga retreat/organization?
I know many! There is the Chillhouse in Bali, Indonesia who have been operating for 8 years: they hire mainly locals, operate sustainably and give back to their local community. Another is Mind Body Soul Surf Bali – the only locally owned and operated surf yoga retreat in Bali who support local charities as well. El Coco Loco in Nicaragua (mentioned above) runs an eco-friendly resort – they’ve built a local high school amongst other on-going projects. What I admire is that they ask locals what the community needs and then go about providing, so it’s driven by the people living in the area. Most of the retreats we list on www.isurfiyoga.com operate sustainably. I say ‘sustainably’ as a broad sense of the term because we consider a retreat to be sustainable when it is giving back to the community in which it operates or protecting the health of the environment.
What do you see for the future of international surf and yoga adventures?
Surfer yogis are a liberated breed who naturally care about wellness and the health of our planet. So I see this as part of the adventure. It’s important to offer healthy food (superfoods & smoothies, hollah!) and a Seva component as an additional activity. I hope we see more specific ‘yoga for surfers’ sequences added to surf yoga retreats, instead of simply offering classes while you’re at the retreat. While we are on vacay surfers need deep, Yin-style yoga to balance our effort in the water. When at home and the surf is not up, then it’s important to keep your body surf fit with more power and ashtanga styles. However while you’re on a retreat, your yoga should be about deep stretching with restorative asanas to offer your body a chance to decompress and recover. Unless there is no surf that day – then you need to get your viny-ass-a up and stay warm because tomorrow there might be some waves to chomp at!
I see all sorts of passionate surfer yogis sharing their stories with us on our new website, iSurf iYoga, inspiring others to get in the flow. There are so many of us doing rad things and going on amazing adventures. I’m just so stoked to share these stories and show off all the incredible retreats and trainings we are discovering!
“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” ~Joseph Campbell
Find more about iSurf iYoga here:
After surfing and practicing yoga for over 13 years, Stacey wanted to create a site that would connect the surf yoga community and help them easily find their next adventure. Having previously worked as a teacher and then a marketing professional for a Fortune 500 company, Stacey decided to combine her passions with her business knowledge and hatched this dream called iSurf iYoga, which showcases inspiring surf yoga related retreats and camps around the world. After a transformational Yoga Teacher Training with the School Yoga Institute she decided to showcase reputable YTTs on the site as well. Other big loves are spending time with family and friends, traveling, outdoor sports, nature, writing, raw food cuisine, turtles and nerding out on Sci-fi movies.