SUP Surf: Yin andYang

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The instructor team at Groove Yoga Bend

The high desert town of Bend Oregon is blessed with a mighty volcanic peak, Mt Bachelor. Surprisingly Bend also hosts a strong surfing and ocean-loving community. In an excerpt from the SRF Mission statement, Bend local, Gerry Lopez, explains, “Even though the sea is Yin and the mountains Yang, a person can seek and find a balance of harmony while enjoying both worlds.” We are glad to enjoy that balanced life with him.  Last Friday evening several dozen lucky yogis met at Groove Yoga Bend for a 90 minute yin yoga class with Gerry.  Every teacher at Groove is uniquely gifted, but there’s no doubt that Gerry’s life experience and commitment to his practice provide a treasured experience. As Gerry encouraged us to allow the postures move into our bodies, rather than pushing our bodies into postures, we had plenty to focus on as we held poses for … a very long time!

Gerry encouraged our focus on breath and allowing thoughts to simply pass through. As we moved toward the balance yin yoga can provide, Gerry’s calm narrative taught us much about the yin and yang of yoga, life and – even surfing. During one segment of pigeon, my wandering mind overcame every attempt at focusing on breathing. I tried to imagine the calm yin one could experience while surfing even while a wave might be a swirling of yang surrounding.

Photo by Jeff Devine

Photo by Jeff Devine

The iconic images we’ve seen of Gerry’s elegant and super-cool style on a wave flashed through my mind.  Within the yang power and seeming chaos of a wave, Gerry is a dot of calm yin a midst it all.   Folded in pigeon pose, my wave images flashed back to wonderful surfing trips at Oregon’s Pacific City. “Breathe, be the yin within the ride,” I said to myself. A few images sprang to mind. At first it was that fear-panic that arose trying to paddle out in short interval, fast moving whitewater. Slowly images morphed into those blue-sky-sunny-glassy day rides that soothe the soul.

Am I a dot of yin among that whirling yang?

Am I a dot of yin among that whirling yang?

Over time in that pigeon I could feel my breath flow into my skiing-punished knee and a tight hip. Breathe in, allow the breath to flow where tightness resides, breathe out and allow relaxation and lengthening. The long time in the posture was like a long time underwater after a washing machine wipeout. Fighting it doesn’t help at all. Allowing a yin sense of calm and focus to drive thoughts and action/inaction opens the door to what we seek – AIR! BALANCE! CALM!

When it comes to standup surfing – or any surfing for that matter – I am pretty much a novice.  But like you, there is a compelling call of water – liquid or frozen, salty or fresh – that we simply can’t ignore.  Like life, we might look at a situation, or sets of waves pounding in at fast-paced intervals and believe, “there’s no way!”

Study and breath - patterns are there

Study and breath – patterns are there

Just like agitation or fear can creep in during a yoga posture, we react similarly in life.  Maybe the next time life – or the surf – throws a scary set your way you can do what you do on the mat.  Allow your breath to calm you. Take time to see where fear or resistance resides. Find a way to discover patterns and order amid the chaos.

We’ve been inspired by Lopez over the years through both surfing and yoga. He explains, “Surfing has a lot of answers to most of the questions in life. Surf is where you find it.”
You might want to find Gerry at one of the many clinics and retreats that host his classes. A great opportunity is provided by Dennis Oliphant and Sun Country Tours

 

Take a moment to enjoy the video:

Standup Paddle AZ

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Board shaping in AZ – by Chad of StandUp Paddle Arizona

 

Chad Brockman's finished product

Chad Brockman’s finished product

Facebook Page, Standup Paddle Arizona, for a few weeks before I contacted its author, Chad Brockman. I finally caught up with him during his race training season. He was paddling about 7 miles a day for the 10.5 Parker “Another Dam Race”. So many people have enjoyed SUP with man’s best friend, but not so many have surfed a chest high set or two.

When not training, Chad spends his time sharing the sport we all love with paddlers across Arizona. According to Chad, ” I try my best to instruct the proper stroke, giving the newbies a head start. I share insights on how to read the water and be safe in and around water, which has the potential to be the most destructive force on earth. I feel it would be an injustice if I did not share my trials and tribulations of living in and around the water for 51 years. SUP Health not only improves your physical condition, it will gift you with a heathy mental outlook.  I take pride in giving the straight scoop about purchasing SUP equipment that a paddler can grow into, not out of. ” AZ Chad

I asked Chad to fill us in on some of the fun he has had with his dog, Red, and SUP.

Red and the surf. “I took Red to doggy beach first and he ran with his buddies. Then we headed to the cliffs and suited up to hit the surf. Red and I paddled out with the surf chicks oohing and ahhhing.  The guys said howzit as I recorded our surf session with GoPro. I started Red out on the small stuff then paddling out to catch the outside sets. Red first stayed behind me on the small waves and went between my legs to the front of the board on the big waves. Everybody was stoked to see Red surf stand up style. I was having twice the fun! Living the dream : )

Chad Brockman of Standup Paddle AZ and his cool dog, Red.

Chad Brockman of Standup Paddle AZ and his cool dog, Red.

We paddled over to the bigger wave break and caught a decent ride. I fell off and tangled up with Red. He came up grasping for air, climbed over me, coughed a little salt water and gave me the look, ‘Get on the board dad, let’s catch another one!’ Surf On… We paddled out and caught even bigger waves, I was still recording. During a lull, I saw some dolphins. I paddled over as Red looked for them. I knocked my paddle three times on the board to get their curiosity. It worked! They surfaced within a couple of feet next to Red and me. Red saw them and remembered them from our fifty Dolphin paddle in Rocky Point. This time there was just two, a pair of 12 plus footers. What a feeling of being welcome within the ocean society.

Back to the lineup to catch a bunch more waves. Red ruled the nose as I caught waves from  shoulder height to overhead in size. We were loving the performance of my 12 foot SUP,  it surfs with ease, dog and all. I have to brag a bit, Brockfish Boards always work better than you can perform. We caught our last wave and headed into a Sunday family gathering.

Out surfing with my dog keeps my heart pumping warm blood from my head to my toes. Kokua at it’s best in the line up with your dog.”
Aloha, Chad & Red

56 Years – Coolest Board Shaper

Raft riding in Hollywood, FL circa 1955

Raft riding in Hollywood, FL circa 1955

Fifty-six years ago this month, when I was 13 years old and living in Hollywood, Florida I was bitten by the surf-bug. None of my friends surfed, we had mush for waves at our beach, so I’m not quite sure what got me so obsessed. It was probably from the millions of waves my dad set me riding using a hard canvass raft that I loved from age 5.  I could never get enough of the beach, of waves or water.  It does follow that by the early 1960’s if I saw someone riding a wave while standing on a surfboard I’d want to give it a try.

Hollywood Beach and baby waves

Hollywood Beach and baby waves

There were no surf shops at the time, but my dad was a general contractor, a wood-worker to the core. I dragged him to my junior high school shop and together we begged for a spot in the January 1963 semester shop class so that I could build myself a surfboard. “Absolutely not!” was the reply. Girls took Home Ec and boys took Shop (Seriously???? My reaction was an entirely different story, but we won’t go there right now).

There was also no Internet in those days so we couldn’t just Google a set of plans. So, on a large sheet of butcher paper my dad drew a “sorts” shape of a surfboard and proceeded to load me into his truck so we could head off to Mack Lumber Company to buy some marine plywood. Many weeks of cutting, sanding, gluing and painting later I saw my first surfboard come to life. Never having seen or touched a “real” surfboard I found no fault in either the design (absolutely flat bottom, no rocker) or the weight (a good 45 lbs – dry).

A nice frame for my first surfboard

A nice frame for my first surfboard

Dad had provided the infrastructure to keep the board solid and hollow.  In spite of side seams sealed with a nice band of duct tape and marine paint (navy blue) the surfboard had a habit of filling with water after every ride. It was pretty hilarious to see a bunch of skinny-legged 13 year-olds dragging that beast ashore, pulling out the cork drain plug and draining sea water after every ride. We didn’t care, we were SURFING!!!!!

A few years later a small Greg Noll surf shop opened at Hollywood Beach.  It was 1965 and I had just started dating Ed.

Judy and Ed in 1967

Judy and Ed in 1967

The big blue wooden surfboard was beginning to show some wear and Christmas was approaching. Did I beg for one of the used fiberglass boards (ever aware of limited gift-budgets)? Oh YES!!!! Well, Mom was not so excited about my surfing obsession and she generously gifted me with holiday dresses, a record player and a small transister radio.  Mmmmmm, what’s a kid to do? Work and earn the $35 needed to get my surfboard asap!

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By February I had my 8’6″ Atlantic surfboard and Ed had saved enough for his Dewey Weber (wow! was it beautiful) and we surfed our way through high school.  College loomed ahead, budgets were tight. By the end of Summer 1967 both boards were sold as we headed north for school. Our surfing days seemed over.

Thank goodness for standup surfing and the surf culture in land-locked Bend, OR. By 2007 we rode our first waves in 40 years.

Happy Father's Day Dad! here's to plenty more water fun days

Happy Father’s Day Dad! here’s to plenty more water fun days

Now, almost 56 years to the day that my dad took on the surfboard project our water fun is boating on the Deschutes and Elk Lake. He (in that photo age 92)  loves to hear every detail about every surf adventure Ed and I enjoy. He watched YouTube videos of every sort of surf and paddle story he can find. I know that he always secretly wished he could stand on a board some how. My goal – on a warm  day at Elk Lake this summer I would have loved to get Dad on a board, even if just for a few minutes. He’s my favorite board shaper and I’d love to see the grin!