Thursday, February 25, 2016

MY SURF LESSON EXPERIENCE SO FAR



I have posted before about a surf lesson I had in J-Bay over a year ago, it was a lot different to what I have experienced recently and I wanted to share my experience for any beginners out there who are looking to take a leap of faith and really give it a go!

Background with surf culture

A bit of background - My boyfriend of 5 years is an amazing surfer, we both attended a high school that focused largely around beach culture and surfing which has automatically become a big part of our lives. I have learnt to appreciate surf culture more in the last 5 years and also am a passionate advocate of the growing progression of female surfing globally which I think is pretty badass! 

Following surfers, surf photographers and surf brands on social media and also researching the sport as well as observing it has really made me more and more interested in it and the mindset that comes from getting into the ocean and experiencing that level of joy that comes from surfing. I have also had the opportunity to travel locally up the coast and see some amazing surf spots and watch my boyfriend really live his passion and hobbies. 

I love the sea - being in the sea is my favourite thing and I honestly believe that salt water cures every little thing! I have always wanted to surf, nothing fancy and nothing hardcore - just a fun longboard or mini mal at Muizies and have my own board and create my own times. I don't intend to get shacked on a monster barrel in Indo or big local spots for that matter like the boyf does, but I do want to really make surfing a part of MY life and create space for it.

Ok so learning from your boyfriend/ husband may work for some but for me I found that I was 100 percent reliant on mine to basically show me the way and I think if you are an advanced surfer going back to the basics is tricky - also if its someone you know/love you can winge, protests and wrap yourself around their neck if a piece of seaweed touches you. So after going out a few times and having a lot of fun playing around and one or two tiny cries (I am highly impatient and want to get things right the first time - things don't work that way) I finally got surf lessons for Christmas and my Birthday!

Surf lessons, schools and packages 

There are a variety of schools in Muizenberg and all of them are totally amazing! I personally fell in love with the Roxy Surf School at the Surf Emporium.

Different packages work for different needs, individual coaching,. The school has a host of coach who are all well training and totally professional! I always feel very safe in the water and appreciate what I learn from different coaches.

My package consisted of 4 surf lessons with a private instructor/coach from the ROXY SURF SCHOOL. If I add the second batch of lessons I got for my birthday I have 8 lessons in total and I have completed 5. 

My package also includes surf board and wetsuit hire as well as the use of the change rooms and hot shower at the school! WINNING

The actual lessons and getting into the water

I worked very hard to change my mindset when I got into the water. My experience in Jay bay actually made me a bit fearful and conditions were a bit much for me. Starting at Muizies is great because the waves are gentle and you feel more in control. I am naturally eager to get things right but have learnt that you need to be patient and actually learn and focus not only on yourself but also the ocean.

The first few lessons I really focused on getting up standing and worked on my placement of my feet and progressed to not using my knees each time. Different coaches have different methods and ways of teaching and its good to try them until you find what works for you.

The first few lessons you still need help getting into the waves and then getting onto them. I noticed that I have become better at balancing and controlling the board and realised I actually do need to paddle! I am still VERY much a beginner but I still push myself to think I am smashing it ;) 

As I have progressed - I have made an effort to go once a week baring the last two due to work/sick/timing. Getting up early and getting in the ocean no matter how successful the lesson was or wasn't really left me with a key emotion - happiness. The ocean is the most magical place and when you give in to yourself and your ego and do something for the sheer joy of it it is amazing what you can achieve.

I made sure to become more observant when I go for a lesson. Am I correcting myself when the coach gives feedback? During long lulus or spare moments I watch the surfers around me - how they stand up, balance and also catch a wave. I also made an effort to start learning when waves are going to break, what waves make me feel safe, am I able to control the board on my own, what triggers a moment of panic, can I force the panic to subside? I also go home and share the entire experience with the boyfriend who is incredibly patient. I have been totally trashed on a number of occasions and come out looking like a drowned rat and feeling a bit uncoordinated but its the best way to confront fears and have a quick reality check that you are in the ocean - not the backline, you can probably put your feet down and worst comes to worst you can head back to the beach!

Learning to surf has also improved my yoga and visa versa. I feel like I have a better understanding of my injury and also my strength and capability.  I am still very much a beginner and although I am getting up and staying on a bit longer I am still falling and still getting a tad trashed. But each time I try harder, give more and truly focus on taking away positives from the experience.

Having a coach means you have less chance of having a meltdown or giving up too easily. A coach is encouraging, supportive and ultimately keen to see you achieve your goals. Also great to have someone to talk to so you are not drifting around too alone. Having gone on different days with varied conditions and different coaches I have learnt a lot in a short space of time and I am practically itching to get back for the next lesson!

Tips for learning to surf - especially at Muizenberg 

Wear plenty of sunblock.

Hydrate before and after your lesson - lessons can last up to an one and a half hours.

Make sure you have the right wetsuit on to avoid chaffing - or one that is too big and ends up flushing and weighing you down.

Use ear drops and ear plugs if you have sensitive ears.

Make sure you are comfortable with the board and test different ones to see what works for you and make note of the conditions that work well with each board.

Warm up before hand because it really does help.

Be honest with the coach about where exactly you feel comfortable going - chest deep, backline etc etc. If you feel scared or uncomfortable talk about it because the coach offers assurance that will only help you grow.

Learn to hold onto the board from the word go - when you are trying to learn to surf a massive board can risk hurting you or someone else so make sure you are shown how to navigate while waiting for waves (or foamies) .

Try and go on the low tide - you can phone the school before hand to check the surf forecast.
Early morning is best - I have been going during the week at 7:30am as its less crowded and I don't feel like I am in everyones way.

If you can only go on the weekend try and go early as well as Muizenberg is full of surfers and swimmers who are bobbing along the break and shore which can be a bit tricky to navigate.

Be honest with yourself and don't be a hero - the coach is there is assist you and help you, take note and listen and when you find a coach that works for you try and work with them as often as possible. 

Be aware of your body and alignment - try and do exercises that will assist you on building strength.

Be aware of other surfers - if you practice with a school you have a vest identifying you as a beginner and I have found as long as you don't flounder too much other surfers are very patient and chilled if you get in the way - but for safety ask the coach for tips on how to move effectively out of the way. I am a bit nervous about getting injured so this is a big one for me.

Phone ahead to book a lesson and stick to it!

Be respectful of the school - rinse out your suit and you vest and hang it up!

Read: The Surf Girl Handbook: The Essential Guide For Surf Chicks Everywhere  this book is such a winner! I bought it a few years ago and most local bookshops and surf schools stock it! It has top tips, explains swell patterns, board types, beginners and intermediate levels as well as advanced tips for improving your skills. They also provide a great health plan, meal ideas and exercises to improve your fitness and surfing!

JUST HAVE A FUN AND ENJOY IT - its a gift to have mobility and to even live near the sea so make the most of it!

My goal is to complete my lessons, find a surf buddy and own my own board and badass wetsuit! 

If you have any questions about beginners surfing please drop me comment and I will do my best to assist :)

If you are a surfer - I am all about learning so please drop your hints, tips and advice in the comment sections :) 

Monday, February 1, 2016

7 DAY MINDFUL DIGITAL DETOX - A QUEST TO BE MORE PRESENT

It's a new month so for me it's about setting new intentions and goals. I have decided to set goals each month as apposed to a whole year - that way I can carry incomplete goals over to a new months and smash them! (Hopefully). 

I have been thinking a lot about the pace of life and how its generally pretty busy with just the basics and if you throw into the mix friends, family, relationships, hobbies, celebrations, etc, etc time is really limited.... and then, you add your phone. That mobile piece of connectivity heaven that is always there for you and provides endless info, support and entertainment. But the thing is, how much time does your phone really take up and how attached have we become to having them in our lives?

Don't get me wrong to live in an era where we have so much interaction and the ability to be connected and be informed instantly is pretty epic! What is not epic is the amount of pointless and unproductive hours clocked up spending too much time scrolling through Instagram of mindlessly clicking on twitter links. Sure, there is a time and a place and for a lot of people its pretty essential to their jobs as well. But the mindless part is something I have started to notice.

If you went out for dinner with your partner and spent 3min taking several photo's of your meal, another 4min choosing a filter and then an additional 2min uploading it and then checking the "like" notification - you have essentially wasted almost 10min of meaningful eye contact with your loved one on your phone.

A big goal for me in 2016 is to be more "present". I like this word because I think it is an accurate reflection of how over saturated and stimulated we are by our phones and the endless information that we almost become addicted to consuming.

Worse than that - the obsession with reply to email and whatsapp instantaneously. Why? Why do we do it? If its not a life threatening emergency do we have to reply just because we saw two little blue ticks notifying us that someone read a message or replying straight away regardless of where you are and what situation you are in?

I have started thinking of it like this. If you went to a family gather, friends braai, a dinner date, a coffee catch up, a walk with a friend, anything really social - can you imagine if you whipped open a book and started reading it? It would be the rudest thing ever and you would look like a royal idiot doing it. But yet here we are - buried in our phones and heightened by every notification and beep with the urge to check a message followed by checking every single social media platform and possibly losing hours of life. 

Worse is the fact that a lot of it is drivel, it lacks informative, positive and powerful wording and it breeds very little intellect. Yup I am guilty of it 100 percent. While I am waiting for something to boil on the stove I am suddenly scrolling through Kayla's feed and 20mins have gone by when I could have spent 20min doing a HITT work out or washing the dishes. Lost my iPod - great with use my phone, and take pictures with it while I walk through a beautiful park and upload and edit pictures of my walk and oh - reply to messages because "must do it now" and probably check my emails at the same time because "hey - why not!" and get home and not actually remember anything beautiful about the walk.....because of my phone. I did a little calculation of how much I am spending on data ....oh my word. I am beyond embarrassed! 

By far the worst phone moment - I walked into my yoga class and put my bag down rolled out my mat and instead of lying down and meditating before we start the class, what am I doing? Oh you know - just quickly informing the world that I am at yoga and won't be contactable for awhile.... WHY!!!!!!!!!! 

Time is really of an essence and when we start becoming less present it becomes evident to the people in our lives. Friendships and relationships become harder to connect to and empathy, support, joy and actual engagement with others become harder because we are constantly plagued by the urge to pick up the damn phone. It is in essence, a modern day affliction and addiction that needs to be managed. 

I am not saying lets all burn our phones and communicate via smoke signals or not have a Instagram binge scroll session of quotes or dream holiday destinations. I am just saying be present - more present than you think you are.

Be there and listen and engage with the moment, the person, the place and the experience your phone can wait - and trust me if it is an emergency you will know about it.

You don't need to be a best friend to your phone you need to be a best friend to yourself and the other kind humans who engage with you and care about being a part of your life.

I decided to create a 7 day Mindful Digital Detox to assist with the modern day affliction of having a phone! I think even if we think we are not addicted to our phones - in some small way we are and sometime it's nice to take a step back! If you are keen to join in or can relate in any way and have some tips to add - please comment below :)