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Eco Yoga Surf

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…

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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?

This year I have gone from Jersey to France, Spain, Portugal, New Zealand, Bali, India and continue onto Sri Lanka then back to Europe.  My biggest personal issue is how my travel impacts the planet.  I am looking for ways to offset all my flights’ carbon emissions and support tree or mangrove planting projects, yet I am still to find one I truly connect with – any ideas!!?  What I take with me also impacts my travels, in India clothing needs to be light and covered up, where as it was still Autumn in NZ, so making sure I have everything I need yet fit it into one bag can make packing rather challenging.  Being grounded, free and personally sustainable is my main focus this year, which can be hard when living a transient life so I am looking for a base now, somewhere to grow veggies and build a home rather than continually travelling.

Can you share some wisdom of how to “travel lightly”?

“Travel lightly” to me means being aware of any kind of baggage – physical, emotional, nat12mental, spiritual – and avoiding collecting any excess along the way!  Being aware of my inputs and outputs, my out-dated beliefs and moving forward with clarity and compassion.  My way is not the high way and respecting the opposing or differing views I am faced with when visiting other countries and cultures is part of the parcel of conscious travel. I feel very privileged to have opportunities in this life like freedom, health and wealth and I travel to expand my knowledge and learn, but what’s the point in doing so with a closed mind and heart? Leave something positive wherever you go – whether it’s a simple smile, learning a few words of the local language or collecting rubbish off the beach –  leave a legacy you can be proud of.  Do something to connect with the local community; I get so much joy out of the weekly kids club for locals at Soul & Surf.  Sharing experiences of how to travel consciously is integral to making us better at it, I am constantly learning and love hearing about other peoples experiences too.

How do you deal with societal pressures that may come from living an “unconventional” lifestyle?

In the past I have perceived societal pressure as something negative, but through facing my own fears and leaving a home and job, I have realized that this was an imaginary barrier I needed to pass through.  It has taken commitment to a positive and healthy mindset, trust in my own heart and values and belief that I can actually create my own lifestyle to get to the other side.  Finding balance in this world when there are so many messages about what we “should” do, how we “should” behave, how we “should” look… well, it’s tough!  It’s a continual navigation with twists and turns to find truth. How I deal with this, is ocean time; solitude – just a little bit, every day and EFT! It is uplifting to meet others on the same path, in fact it is what gives me more energy to continue to explore; and collaboration is the best!

What does YogaRama mean to you?

YogaRama is the infant I am nurturing right now in the context of starting a business.  YogaRama represents connecting with my own power and energy to find my place in the world, something greater than me.  I love the concept of the marriage of Yoga – the yoking of the body and breath to invite spiritual connection and Rama – the deity representing our highest purpose.  This marriage invokes the responsibility I feel to the planet or a greater force. It is through the heightened awareness of the body and breath (yoga) that we are able to feel deeper into our existence (rama) and notice the connections within everything we experience – the patterns to detail; the macrocosm and the microcosm.  It is being more aware of these connections that allows us to expand on so many levels.

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 withnatsea 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 Natalie Foxmoments 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.

What is your definition of happiness?

I feel like happiness can be fleeting and fickle, and there is almost too much emphasis placed on this one emotion when there is a whole spectrum of incredible flavors of feeling we can experience. What I am more intent on now, is being open to the full range of my emotions, not fleeing from my sadness because I cannot handle it, not running nat10toward ecstasy because feeling pain is so scary.  And not hoping my highs will last forever, because nothing is constant in this world and attaching to happiness is like latching onto an ice sculpture in the sun! In the past I have managed to disconnect from and numb my feelings so now I find happiness in simply feeling!  I now also appreciate the lessons that come from the lows and with that acceptance has come a deeper, more stable sense of happiness.  Perhaps this is more like peace, and peace is something I can’t get enough of! Of course, I do love to be happy and appreciate the things that bring me happiness – peeling left hand point breaks; organically grown veggies straight out the ground; raw chocolate; journaling in nature; laughing with my friends; leopard print yoga pants, spending time with my beloved; crafting, creating and designing; diving deep in the ocean and if I’m lucky, sharing space with other sentient beings, especially cetaceans.

Anything else you would like to share…

Just love, light, gratitude and presence 🙂

Natalie Fox

Natalie Fox is a roving surf and yoga instructor, Roxy fitness ambassador, and cofounder of Women for Whales, originally from the UK. She has travelled to Antarctica with Sea Shepherd to protect minke whales, guided surfing on deserted Panamanian islands and taught yoga in the jungle. She is currently the resident yoga teacher at Soul & Surf Sri Lanka, where you can find her teaching an array of classes from Yin to Vinyasa to Quantum Yoga. You can join Natalie for surfing, yoga and SUP adventures in June on her Portugal retreat with Jennifer Moore. Her online portal is EcoYogaSurf.com.

Photo credits:

Surfing Cover Photo:  Robbie Dark
Yoga, Garden, and Bio Photos: Ilona Henne
Kayak Photo: Hilton Dawe (featuring Lauren Hill of @theseakin)
Sea Shepard Photo: Simon Ager

Why Go on a Yoga Retreat?

Here is some reposted wisdom and inspiration for the modern yogi from our friend Insiya at YOGUE. You can find the original posting here: http://www.yogue.ca/why-go-on-a-yoga-retreat/

I recently read Toronto based yoga teacher Matthew Remski’s essay on how modern yoga needs to offer “real” support and connection to its community at the yoga studio level – he calls it the “soup kitchen”-ing of yoga studios.  It’s a brilliant, thought provoking essay and you can find it in the book 21st Century Yoga Politics and Practice;  I admire Remski as he brings a critical lens to our yoga bubble world and his writing and his work is concerned with  growing the yoga practice far beyond just doing asanas to tone your tush.   It is about creating a space much like the churches and mosques and synagogues have done for centuries, that offers community, a space to share the sorrows and joys of life that make us humans on a spiritual search, yet not disengaged with daily living.

Yet, in the essay, he critiques yoga retreats as one of the offerings at yoga studios that have just become a marketing ploy to take people to beautiful places and earn revenue.

That may be.

Yet, I write this post from Bali, where I have just arrived from the wet Canadian winter of Vancouver.  My mornings here begin with a surreptitious escape from our “family bed” so as not to awaken our toddler, who climbs in every night. I spend my first few moments walking barefoot onto dewy grass and looking up at the night sky – blushing toward first dawn.  It is warm and my body feels none of the sting of the winter winds I have left behind.  Instead, I am here taking in a simple connection to soil, to earth and to the ocean air scented with plumeria.

Sounds magical?  It is.  This time in Bali where we arrive each winter after the many airplane flights, the incessant travails of travel – especially with a child – is my manna.  After my first dip into the ocean, I feel reborn and a flowering of my yoga practice – with a little bit of help.  I’m no longer as concerned with the daily tasks of being a “householder” – we eat simple, delicious food that the retreat centre cooks, or at a local restaurant or warung, or I cook breakfast.  I am not folding laundry, one of the many local laundries is happy to have our business and  I have a little bit of help with my son.

As a mom, my yoga practice at home is all about squeezing in a few moments here and there within my day – always flowing with the rhythm of my child, the demands of work and family  – and justifying the compression of my daily practice with the statement: “this is my yoga right now.”

Here, all of a sudden, I don’t need to justify anything.  With just a little bit of space and time I can go a little deeper.  I used to think this was a luxury, something that I shouldn’t celebrate as it seemed so elitist, but especially if you are a woman and a mother and on a spiritual path – if you can manage it – a few moments of time stretched offer everything. It makes me think about a famous female poet who said, “I write poetry as it is the only thing i can do in between the demands of my children.  Writing fiction would take so much longer.”

Ultimately, what I am looking for is quiet.  The yogis write that the yoga practice is about training our mind to be quiet so that we can feel that “quietness” in the midst of chaos, yet to get there, there’s nothing quite like experiencing external quiet: the pause from the daily-ness of space/time.  Sometimes you need to check out, to check in.

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The recent “trend” in the yoga world is that “retreats” are not as popular as teacher trainings and immersions in exotic locations.  That maybe so, but the truth is, that going on retreat can be a deep ride that offers as much as you are ready to take.  It can help to create new habits – like a daily yoga practice; it can offer a respite with time to journal, to think, to even lay in a hammock especially if that is not your natural inclination. Mostly, it can be a sure-fire way to take your awareness to another plane, a transfusion of spirit and a re-building of the “you.”

I often end my yoga classes with the statement that taking this “time” is not a selfish thing, because the time we spend on renewing ourself helps us to be kinder, more compassionate and present in all our relationships.  I know that I am a better partner, a mother and a friend when I do.

Traveling to Bali may not be in your cards this year, or in this lifetime, but you can go on retreat, for an hour, a day, a weekend or longer to a place not so far from the immediate recesses of your life.

So tell me, have you been on a yoga retreat or aspire to going on one?  Do you see it as something frivolous or wuwu? I’d love to know.

MW5A0273-6Insiya Rasiwala-Finn is a writer, yoga teacher, and mama exploring creativity and the eco lifestyle. Follow Insiya at YOGUE as she continues to seek out the greenest, healthiest ways to live, cook, inspire, travel and play: in the ocean, with words on paper and on the yoga mat.

www.yogue.ca

 

Travel “Eco”

Eco-travel is an excellent way to travel with a purpose. We should all think about ways to make our travel sustainable, mindfully connected with local culture, and present. Here we catch up with Los Cardones Eco Lodge co-owner, Anne-Laure Sitton. In 2001, Anne and her husband followed their dreams of adventure and searched for locations between Mexico and Costa Rica. They found it in Nicaragua and Los Cardones was born. Not only do they offer amazing surf/yoga/eco holidays, they give back to the local community in many ways, and offer visitors enriching experiences to get involved. Next time you travel…..Travel “ECO”!

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What does “Eco Resort” mean to you?

The vision for our eco lodge is to offer a place where one can feel in harmony with oneself, with others, and with the environment.

What projects are you involved with to help your local community?

We run a library in the local village, we host a weekly art workshop with the local kids, we organize health workshops with the women of theloscardones3 community. We save endangered sea turtles from extinction, we raise awareness here and abroad, we hire locally, and buy locally.

Do you offer work exchange/volunteer opportunities?

We offer a yoga teacher and customer service work exchange opportunity. It is a monthly commitment to share a loving yoga practice with our guests.

What kind of yoga do you offer at Los Cardones?

We offer ashtanga and vinyasa flow yoga, with a focus on our unity with Mother Nature.
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Learn more about Los Cardones here:

http://www.loscardones.com/