1. Respect the Ocean
If anything, surfing has brought me to love the ocean through its intensity. I've watched surfing many times and spent hours photographing it. The waves look so much smaller from the shore and I never quite understood that until now. It's important to understand the ocean can be fun but also dangerous if you aren't smart. One of the best investments we made was into surf lessons. Could we have gone out on our own? Yes. However, I didn't want to worry about hitting rocks or reef or getting stuck in strong current I didn't know about. I knew that there was always someone looking out for us and our instructors also happened to be lifeguards.
We are so greatful for the team at Canggu Surf Lessons with Arya! They were patient, kind, and became our friends. If you are visiting Bali, Arya & his instructors are the people to trust! You can find them on Instagram @canggusurflessons_by_arya and https://canggusurflessons.com
2. Everyone was once a beginner
One thing about me is I love to try new things but I also get embarassed easily and frustrated. When I don't get it right away, I go into flight mode. Growing up a competetive gymnast I often strive for perfection. I forget that there is no judge and I am not at a competition. Surfing is supposed to be FUN and even though I may feel embarassed looking like a total kook, even the experts were one beginners.
3. Fall down 7x stand up 8… unless youre too tired, just paddle in. Don't be a hero.
The first tattoo I got when I was 18 years old was "Fall down 7 times stand up 8." A quote that carried me through my gymnastics career. That certainly applies to surfing because you aren't going to catch every wave and if you do, you're definitely going to slip and fall many times. However, when I have taken a beating as long as I can and get up again, I know a fun wave is to come. With this being said, it is also important to listen to your body. Nothing is more dangerous than being exhausted, unable to paddle or get yourself out of danger.
4. 50% of the battle is staying calm
Anyone who has been my teammate in gymnastics at a point knows I was my own biggest obstacle. Often I could totally throw off my routine because I thought too damn hard about it even though I physically was capable. Pretty quickly into surf lessons I realized, I am still a mental case. I still overthink it. My surf instructor Arya said "relax" before every wave he told me to take which was super helpful. Before I used to mount on the uneven bars, my gymnastics coach Matt would
say "Don't think, just go." Arya also explained when you freak out, your energy goes from 100% to 50% and this is true. So whether its falling on a big wave, paddling out through the white water the key is to stay calm.
5. Surfing is like childbirth.
Would I even be a doula if I didn't somehow related this experience to birth? There are so many times I used my doula tools on myself while learning how to surf. When a large wave crashed and I had to do what is called "turtle roll" so the wave doesnt take me and my board tumbling to shore, at first I was scared. When you freak out underwater you end up swallowing water or getting it up your nose, coming up for air just to do it again until the set is over. This made me think of in labor, its like when your contractions are coming one on top of the other and you tense up, fearful of the next, not believing you can handle it. Once I finally just relaxed and went under the wave calmly, it was much less scary and manageable.
Prior to surfing I have heard doulas, midwives and childbirth educators use the termonology for contractions "waves" and say phrases like "let the wave pass." Now, I'm still not sure I fully agree with that because yes, the wave has to pss but you have to go through it. It isnt like you're just sitting on top of your surfboard chilling as the wave passes or even riding the wave because thats actually super fun and not so intense like a contraction. Its trusting that you can go through it and will come out able to rest before the next one.
There were often times I did get caught in the white water and I had been knocked off my board, gasping for air and I literally yelled "I can't do this." I quickly realized I actually have no choice I have to. There no other option, its either drown or do it. Another phrase familiar from birth I told myself was, "I am doing it!" and to take it "one wave at a time."
Although surfing isn't for everyone, and at times I thought maybe this isn't for me... everytime I got to the beach or thought about how fun it is when you do catch a wave I knew I wanted to do it again. I'm greatful to have found a new hobby and skill I can practice anywhere there is the ocean and breaking waves. #tinywavesurfclub ☺️ 🌊