Monday, January 26, 2015

SURF LESSONS IN JEFFERYS BAY

In December Neil and I embarked on a mini road trip that took us to three different spots, I will elaborate on each one with a post soon, but for now this post is focused on my surf lessons at our second road trip stop, the beautiful J-bay!

One of my goals this year is to be able to surf, without Neil having to literally help me lug a a massive board in and out of the water and basically push me into every wave! Not that he doesn't do a fantastic job keeping me calm and encouraging me to actually stay on the board instead of jumping off every time I think a wave is too big, when in actual fact its a tiny baby foamy. I have no shame.

I obviously developed this interest because the boyf surfs and by surfs I mean its a way of life, part of his DNA and it's his biggest passion that he has been doing for pretty much 20 years. I have grown to appreciate the sport and done my own research into it so I can at least stay up to date on conversations and also share in his passion for it because it is pretty damn exciting and cool to be perfectly honest. It got a whole lot better when I started following the Women's ASP World Tour and suddenly realised that female surfing is pretty badass and super progressive! There are a host of female surfers that I follow on social media and they are not just about looking pretty (which they all do) they are all incredible skilled in the surf and very inspiring! 

I have been out at Muizenberg a few times with a rented board (or massive door more like) and its always fun, its very shallow and pretty crowed so on a busy day it gets a bit hectic. Because I am naturally a competitive person who needs to get everything right the first time, Neil had to keep reminding me its about having fun and also about building confidence in the ocean. We often head out to Koel Baai and go for swims in the ocean and whenever we are anywhere near the sea I make the effort to swim and build confidence in the sea, I also love the sea so that helps. Neil always says you should never fear the sea, you should only show it respect.

I was really excited to have some private lessons in J-bay, not that Neil isn't a brilliant surf instructor, he is! But he does get all my sob stories and obviously is completely empathetic and understanding to my competitive nature, and he has surfed for so long so often his instructions are "Just go" "Just stand up"! Like sure, it's SO EASY!

So back to the private surf lessons, it's always good to have an outsider or surf school teach you how to surf as they take it right back to the basics. I started out my first lesson with Son Surf School instructor Kelvin who is a legend and couches some of the top SA Billabong female surfers (no pressure Nat's). He obviously took the fact that I had been out a few times with Neil as me being a bit better than I actually am, so before I knew it we were in deep water with actual waves coming in and me basically manoeuvring  a massive mini mal around the ocean. Of course we started out with surf basics on the shore at the main beach, but once you are out there away from the foamies it's a little scary and you are not thinking about the perfect standing pose! kelvin did a great job at keeping me calm, chatting to me throughout, offering encouragement and also giving great tips. I will share some of my own tips a little later in this post.

So first day success, after getting endlessly thrashed I eventually got up and actually stayed up long enough to pretty much ride a (tiny) wave. YAY! It was an incredible feeling and a massive confidence boost, best of all Neil witnessed the whole thing from his spot on the beach. That night I felt pretty pumped so we booked a second lesson for the next morning very early. The conditions were a lot different and a lot more shallow with the water pretty much sucking up off the sand. In order to document my success (ego from day before) I agreed to have the photographer join us in the water to get some pics of me getting barrelled LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL.

I now see how in deeper water it actually makes a big difference and it is a whole lot better because when you come off a board in shallow water the ocean floor is not very comfortable and the sand is not so gentle when you land on your butt.... lesson learnt. Although I didn't have as much success on day two and most of the photos are of me falling on my face, I still went out and challenged myself and also gave it my all.  I wish I had pictures from day one so I could look more badass but these are the best oft he lot so I will share them with you.




                       Me on a wave at the back. I promise you it was a lot bigger in my mind


       
                                                    Me taking forever to stand up



                      Me about to stand up and then soon after falling on my face - in the foamies.

So all in all surfing in J-bay was really fun and uncrowded even thought there are a lot of learners in the water you always feel safe and everyone is very supportive! I want to keep it up for sure and do some more sessions out at Muizenberg - and become really badass on my own LOL.

 Here is a list of my findings and tips from Neil, surf instructor, friends and my own experience.

  • The waves are never as big and rough as they seem when your lying on a board. It is just water - especially if your in a shallow section.
  • Practice "jumping up" on the actual beach, go from lying to standing and keep practicing even at the gym - muscle memory is pretty amazing and will help when you are out there.
  • Focus on your core, use your arms to get you up, don't just try stand only using your legs.
  • Make sure you lie on the centre of the board, not too far forward or back.
  • Practice a "paddle motion" out of the water, again to build muscle memory and strength.
  • If you fall or bail, put your hands in front of your face to protect you from having the board fly into you.
  • Be aware of the people around you.
  • If you are getting tired, rest and the go back out. Like anything you have to build up strength.
  • Laugh at yourself, the majority of people who get it right the first time are kids, mainly because they are fearless and they are so tiny they can simply pop up so easily, plus they have no expectations and it's pure enjoyment for them.
  • You are always safe when you are with instructors and friends who are experienced, trust them.
  • Falling in the sea is a lot less painful and dangerous than falling on your face on land, take comfort in that.
  • A 90min lesson is a good amount of time to build confidence and have fun.
  • If you are surfing further out and bigger waves try and figure out when you should be duck-diving under or going over the wave (this is my struggle and I end of bailing).
  • Have fun and laugh, its suppose to be fun and its also a seriously good work-out (google surfer girls please - abs for days).
  • Find what board works for you and it doesn't matter how big it is.
  • Go as often as you can and build confidence around it.
  • Find a surf buddy who is at the same level as you so you can progress together.
  • Stand up - just do it, don't think about it, don't take too long, don't worry about falling, just get up, stand up and do it because you can and when you do it feels absolutely amazing!
Ladies - get your hands on The Surfer Girl Handbook published by SurfGirl Magazine in association with ROXY. Full amazing tips, exercises, health advice, board advice and general stuff you need to know about the ocean, surfing and how to make it a part of your life!

I hope you all get a chance to experience some surf lessons and even if you don't want to make it a regular thing you should at least go once to try it out and have fun! There are loads of amazing Surf Schools in Muizenberg and places to rent boards if your not into having a lesson. Best of all, you get to finish off with a delicious coffee and look out at the beautiful view! And you will sleep like a baby after you surf that I can promise - you also may not be able to lift your arms for a few days….but so worth it :)

Monday, January 5, 2015

YOGA MONDAY'S - 2015 YOGA INTENTION


I can't pin point an exact time I started yoga, I think it might have been about two years ago or more. I started because I needed to find something that worked for me and for my injury. It took awhile but once I got into into it I felt the change that it made to my body and my mind. My goal for this year, along with running is to shift and change my perception and feeling towards yoga and my own personal progress in the practice. 

By nature I am a competitive person. I don't think having a competitive personality is a bad thing. I am not nasty competitive, I am eager competitive. If I have learnt anything from yoga is that it is not a competition. It is not about doing better than other people in the class or becoming the best. It is in actual fact, a deeply personal journey and if you stick to it and work on it, your mind and body can do incredible things (working on it myself). A lot of last year for me felt very frustrating, I felt like I never had the time to do the things I wanted to or desired to. Life just got busy, and that will not be allowed this year. There will be time!

 I started my yoga journey at Virgin Active Green Point, I have since moved it to the Claremont Virgin because I now live this side. For me I could not afford to go to a yoga studio only, and I also enjoy having a gym contract, I find the gym yoga to be fantastic and the teachers are all trained yoga teachers who also teach elsewhere. I have also had the opportunity to practice at Yoga Studios like Yoga Zone and Yo Yoga which offer hot yoga and are a must if you're into trying yoga, both places offer specials for first time yogis! 

Yoga helped not only with my injury, but also will loss. I have been fortunate enough to have a yoga mentor and "yoga dad" who has followed this journey with me. We met in yoga class and we still practice together whenever we get a chance. He came into my life when he was meant to and I am so grateful for that. Soon after I lost my own dad I used to cry at the end of ever class. Not just a gentle tear rolling down my cheek, I am talking full on ugly crying that came from deep inside and that I could not control. Every time practice finished in Savasana "corpse pose" I would cry. I spoke to my yoga teacher who confirmed what I suspected, the pose is the same pose that we ultimately leave this world in. It is a vulnerable pose that makes us feel exposed and open, it is also a restorative position in yoga. For a long time I struggled to do the pose without feeling a rush of emotion. I realised that it was my body releasing. It was me letting go, it was my therapy and healing. For awhile it was overwhelming but then I just embraced it. It still happens from time to time and I am grateful that yoga has the power to help me connect to my emotions in a safe environment with people who are loving and supportive.

In the last two years I have learnt from yoga that I do have control over my body, I know what it needs and when it needs it, what hurts and what feels amazing and what it means to really focus and make it about me, my journey and my ability, not everyone else's. Just before Christmas I tried some Hot Yoga classes and really loved it! I felt very strong and powerful! This year the classes I have gone too I have felt a bit nervous and struggled to switch off, my body has has been a bit tired from other forms of exercise I have been doing and  I guess I have a lot on my mind, but the point of yoga is to switch off and heal. I know that some classes will be great and some classes will be hard and my body won't do all that I want it to do, but I am learning still and thats ok, its a process, its not a race. I have to keep reminding myself and I have to actually practice what I preach and have written in these posts. Really I do.



(Pic by me taken at Yoga Zone)

Last year and this year I have been able to share my love and passion for yoga with friends which for me is very special. I believe that it connects people and helps us break out of our comfort zones together. I love that I have introduced friends to something that they now also love and enjoy. Its been nice to see and follow their journey and to feel happy and supportive of them. My biggest longterm goal will be at some point (in the distant future) to do a yoga teachers course and my first and foremost yoga goal is to save up for a Yoga Retreat in Bali that my friend and I are planning to go to together. (and that I have been drooling over for years).

Baby steps and self love are apart of my yoga journey this year. I remember feeling frustrated about a move I could not do because my back could not and would not ease up in the position, then I thought back to when I started and how I could not even do a simple Chaturanga pose, but now I can. Progress is key, even if its slow, I am making peace with the fact that I need to accept that things take time and with the right amount of focus and positivity they can be achieved. Its so easy to put ourselves down and focus on what we can't do instead of what we can do. 

Neil always says to me, it's not a competition and if your not having fun doing something (sports related and other) then you should not be doing it. It should make you happy and make you feel good, it should not be effort or frustrate you. He is 100 percent right.

So for all the yoga fans lets make 2015 about getting on the mat with love, happiness, and positive intention!



Saturday, January 3, 2015

HI 2015 - I AM READY FOR YOU



Oh hi 2015. Where did you come from??????

2014 taught me a lot, maybe a bit too much to share in one post, but what I did learn from 2014 is that I have some truly amazing, special and incredible people in my life who I have helped me grow and become a better person and also supported my journey and for that, I am beyond grateful! I challenged myself as a person and embraced a few things that I thought I could never do but actually can and I also began the journey of really understanding self belief. Not just surface level self belief, I am talking real, honest and raw self belief, in mind, body and spirit - this needs to be amplified in 2015. Big time.

I finished my studies in 2014 and did an incredible internship followed by an amazing holiday and christmas, and I have found myself in the last few week really reflecting on the last year and what I really want to achieve this year. 

Last year was pretty hectic, it was intense, there were some seriously good times and some seriously stressful times! There was a definite lack of balance in some areas - but that will change this year! HELL YEAH!!!!! 

Before the year ended I kicked off the fitness routine I have been longing to start. 2014 was a lot of stop start and lack of proper routine when it came to exercise which I found hugely frustrating. In the last few weeks I have done hot yoga, surf lessons, a hike, more yoga, ocean swims, gym, running and a forest walk. I know that once the year picks up it may not be as easy to maintain this much exercise, but I know for sure I WILL make a plan to fit it in no matter what - even if I have to do a plank on the kitchen floor while dinner is in the oven. Most importantly, it's going to be a whole lot of fun!

I have my first ever entry for the Old Mutual Two Oceans Half Marathon. OMW. To say I am nervous is an understatement. I actually come from a family of runners and I have always had this urge to run but since having an injury I have been fearful and held back a lot. I decided to enter so that I could simply not turn back. I have read a lot about training and running, I have spoken to people and worked out things about the sport that I didn't know or realise before. I am going to train hard, I am going to try my very best to do it. I hope that I will be able to achieve it and that the injury will not play up. (also, must get out of the habit of saying "I hope" or "if I do" need to change it to I will and I can). Another exciting challenge will be the Whale Trail in November so that means more mountain time which I am excited about! I don't want to hold back or be fearful anymore, I won't know unless I try and if it doesn't work I won't give up, I will try something that does. 

I started this year feeling a bit tender and emotional and I realised a lot of it comes from a place of worry. I realise that this year needs to have a fundamental shift in who I am as a person. I need to go from being a worrier to a warrior. Corny, but its 100 percent where I am at and where I need to be. I am by nature a perfectionist and of the mentally that "it is not good enough" well thats not going to get me anywhere, I mean hello! I have to let it go, do my best and give my all and what will be will be. I can't fight every single aspect of it. It's exhausting. Really! We are also always so quick to put ourselves down, or be too harsh on ourselves and it really is counterproductive. OWN IT!

I need to tap into my ability, my skills, my talent and my passion and start believing in myself. I realised how easy it is not too. 2014 I felt cautious, a bit nervous and scared (maybe a bit too defensive and guarded as well)  and for what? Its about taking risks, jumping in head first, doing, believing, living and having a total blast. I will be 27 years old this year and I realised how I actually need to let go, let live, breathe and go with the flow. My friend has this beautiful analogy about going with the flow; imagine you are floating or swimming down a river, you are on a journey and ready to embrace where the water takes you. If you try and swim back up stream and fight the currents and the water you are simply tiring yourself out and fighting against a natural flow and progression. That is the simple truth. 


My new mottos for 2015 

Go with the flow. For real.

Intention is everything.

Be a #GIRLBOSS (everyone should read the book).

Breathe - properly, into every single living space and part of my body.

No more worrier - I will become a warrior.

Think about what you want and what makes you happy and do it.

It will all be ok in the end and if it's not ok, it's not the end.

Forgive and forget. Don't hold onto the past.

Be kind to yourself, tread lightly and give yourself the love that you deserve.

There will be more cooking, more reading, more learning, laughing, loving, living and caring. I will be less hard on myself. I WILL  believe in my blog. I always have had this feeling that my blog is not good enough or maybe too personal and I have been reluctant to share posts with people or on social media or even talk about it in a conversation, but you know what, enough. Its my blog and if I don't believe in it then how will anyone else believe in it? (that stands for a lot of things in life - self belief is essential)  I will take pride in this space where I can have an outlet, write and share things about my journey and I will believe in it. No more blog doubt.

The boyf and I will also not be studying (for him it was studying and working at the same time, madness) we will be actually saying yes to invitations, we will be getting out the house and getting to do all the things that we have been waiting to do after a year of hard graft. This year will be work hard, but also play hard!

 2015 - There will be ups and downs, good days and bad, new challenges and new paths but each one will hold a lesson, each day will be a day to start anew and each moment will be taken with grace and gratitude. I will make this year my year, I will kick ass, I will achieve, I will be stronger and wiser and I will not for one minute forget the strength and ability that I have.

I wish you all a fantastic 2015 and may it be the best year yet!