I am desiring to utilize what I have learned and acquired from my yoga practice and transform that into serving those who are in need. I want to somehow take all of the time that I have put Into learning yoga poses, practicing conscious breathing patterns and sitting on a cushion alone in the quiet and turn that into providing assistance to those faced with extreme challenge. I want to do this because I believe we can make the world a place that supports the needs of each other. I believe that we can transform suffering into caring and challenge into compassion.
The method I am employing to attempt to do this is by participating in Crossing for a Cure. I am going to paddle my SUP, with support boat in tow, across the Gulf Stream from Bimini, Bahamas to Lake Worth, Florida. A journey that covers 80 miles and has to be completed within 18 hours. I am fundraising for the journey to benefit Piper’s Angels. The money raised will help those with Cystic Fibrosis and their families to receive care and treatments that can improve their quality of life.
Why am I participating in the Crossing? I want to try to do something that seems impossible! I want to move outside my own personal space of comfort to see what I am made of. When I first heard about the Crossing I had paddled about 2 miles toward the Jupiter Inlet in Florida and looked out at the Atlantic Ocean. My feet hurt, my back was sore and I was tired. Thinking about going out into the ocean and paddling to the Bahamas seemed absurd. I remember my friend telling me that he had participated in the event the year before. When I had heard about this it blew my mind. It was one of those moments that you almost just can’t register because it seems so over the top. As I was paddling and remembering that he had accomplished this I felt something inside me stir. I could feel the beginning of me wondering, “could I do this too if I tried?” I immediately upon returning to shore called him to find out more details. Upon hearing the details of his experience I was captivated. That was it! The spark had been lit.
It is always good to let a big idea sit for a few days so I did a little research. When I learned that the journey was inspired by a father (Travis Suit) who wants to help his daughter(Piper Suit) who has CF and others who are diagnosed with this life threatening illness it turned that spark into a fire. I have children and holding them close and wanting the best for them is something that stirs my heart. Something about the combination of attempting the seemingly impossible while driving awareness and support to those that need it seems like a perfect match. I also watched the video that documents the Crossing called Epic Love and I felt electricity in my body and tears well up from within as I realized I was going to go through with registering for this event.
Sometimes when coming up with challenges to test the human soul and fortitude for endurance the endeavor can often be seen as selfish and unproductive for the greater good. When we have busy lives and families that need our time and attention, to pull from that can appear selfish and unimportant. Participating in the Crossing gives me the feeling that I can challenge myself but instead of it being for my own self pleasure I can potentially help someone else. This is what in the world of Yoga is considered Karma Yoga. Acting for the benefit of others while expecting nothing in return. In summary by being of service I potentially can explore the practice of Yoga further.
Why cross the Gulf Stream on a Stand Up Paddle (SUP) board? The first time that I saw a video of Laird Hamiliton riding a SUP on the waves in Hawaii the hair stood up on the back of my neck. You know how when you love two things that seem completely unrelated are married together and produce a connection that you can’t believe hasn’t already been made? Like how come I didn’t see that coming? That is so obvious, of course you could stand up on a floaty board and use a paddle to propel yourself forward. Well until that moment it had never occurred to me. Living in Florida the waves are very inconsistent and this knowledge opened up a completely new avenue to enjoy the ocean and get into incredible fitness at the same time. I grew up surfing and paddling in canoes so of course I have to get a SUP, right?!?
The other reason I love SUP so much is that it feels like it is an activity that has a history that goes way back. I have included a link here that explains some of its history. It has strong roots in Polynesia culture and today it’s popularity is global. SUP is similar to Yoga which has a history that potentially spans the course of several thousands of years. Paddling in the oceans and rivers is a way that humankind have traversed the globe long before the combustion engine. When I am out in the ocean with the solitude of my board, paddle and my thoughts I feel it gives me the freedom to connect with our ancestors. I feel like I can somehow transcend the boundaries between the modern era of hyper technology and the age old practice of moving forward through the stroke of a paddle. It is very grounding to feel the fluidity of movement of my muscles much the same way I feel yoga facilitates the same outcome. Yoga practice and paddling feel like two art forms that are compliments to each other.
There are three core elements I have learned to cultivate through yoga practice that seem to compliment the practice of paddling that I would like to expound upon.
The first core element I feel an inextricable link between both practices is balance. Paddling while standing up on a narrow board in turbulent and constantly changing surface such as the ocean requires an impeccable amount of balance and coordination. My working definition of balance is the ability to make fine motor muscle adjustments at any given instant that allows one to maintain a specific position. Yoga practice includes practicing standing on either both feet and/or one foot while making as many different possible positions with the upper body and limbs as possible. Practicing holding challenging postures for longer periods of time has helped me tremendously with developing my strength and coordination and my overall balance ability. I am finding the coordination that comes from balance in Yoga to be enormously beneficial when confronted with extreme conditions faced on the Stand Up Paddle board.
The second core element of yoga practice that ties in wonderfully with SUP is the engagement of core which here means cultivating abdominal and pelvic floor muscle strength. I suffered a large amount of back pain when I started training for this event. So much so that I really started to doubt myself and my ability to make the entire journey. In my yoga practice I have been trying to cultivate abdominal and pelvic floor strength which in yoga terms is called Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha. One of the purposes of learning to strengthen core is so that more challenging poses we can be sustained by stabilizing the center to support the overall structure. Like the old saying goes, “castles made of sand wash into the sea, eventually.” Putting this theory to practice can be a building block to complicated yoga pose design. I began to practice paddling and simultaneously engaging the pelvic floor muscles and use the contraction of my abdomen. Once I began to exercise these practices while paddling I noticed that my back pain went away quickly thereafter.
The third core element of yoga practice that relates beautifully with paddling is the conscious application of both breathing and meditation. I find that when I am really struggling while I am paddling. By that I mean when my body is super sore, sweat is pouring out of every pore and exhaustion seems to be the norm. I am trying to consciously relax a bit and try to breath really deep and even go as far as to paddle at the same speed as I am breathing. Thus bringing the element of what in yoga terms is called vinyasa, which means breath and movement coordination, to my paddling. Practicing endless repetitions of certain movements and trying to fine tune the breath to be in sync with that is a proudly concentrative exercise. The basic premise is to inhale while lifting the paddle out of the water and then when the paddle enters the water exhale through the stroke and sync these two actions together seamlessly over and over again. This has proven to me to be a game changer. I am fascinated by the challenge of coordinating my breath with my paddle stroke. When I practice yoga all I want to do is improve my attention to coordination of my movement with my breath. Now I am finding my paddling practice is enhancing my yoga practice and visa versa.
My mission for writing these thoughts down and conveying these ideas to you is my attempt to bring my love for the practice of yoga and Stand Up Paddling through the event of Crossing for the Cure to a wider audience. I believe that we can enhance our experience of life by lending support and compassion to those that need and welcome it. If you would like to offer your support you can donate by clicking here. It is also my intention to just enjoy the journey and give this my best effort. Only 11 days to go and we will embark on the 15th of June, 2019. I will keep you posted with the outcome.
The results are in! Thank you everyone who came and supported Piper’s Angels Foundation and Crossing for a Cure today at the Crossing for a Cure Yoga Challenge. A special thanks to Travis and Piper for your attendance. Check out the results below:
Crossing for a Cure Yoga Challenge
Travis 35 min
Zach 32:13 min
Chris 32 min
Tree Pose (both side times combined)
Stephanie 20 min
Piper 16:06 min
Jamie 10:11 min
Zach 12:38 min
Jamie 12:09 min
Judy 9:57 min
Handstand on wall
Judy 3:30 min
Jen 2:00 min
Jen 5:06 sec
Piper 3:01 sec
Jamie 2:03 sec
It was a fun event and all the participants endured long holds in each of these poses. Putting #boldinthefaceoffear to practice!
Thank you so much for your support in helping Piper’s Angels get closer to reaching this year’s Fundraising goals. Our paddle across the Gulf Stream ebbs closer with only 45 days away. I have been really motivated of late and have gotten on the water every day to train for the past week. There is a ton of seaweed in the water right now which makes for some really tough conditions. Everytime I go through a patch and my fin collects a mass of it my speed goes from 4 mph to about 1 mph. The easiest way to get the seaweed off is to backward paddle and watch behind until I see it dislodge. If you watch the video closely when the frames are sped up that will explain why I am backpaddling on a pass around Peanut Island. This is a very tedious tidbit of information but I enjoy keeping you up to date of every amazing discovery I make! 🙂 My purpose for this note is to remind you how appreciative I am for your encouragment. Even though there is a lot of ‘backpaddling’ going on your aid is making it all worth it.
Native Yoga Center has some exciting events coming up in the near future. Here are a few words to explain:
Coming up on Tuesday we have our third installment of Compassion Meditation with Michael Shea. Michael travels the world teaching Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy and when he is home here in Juno Beach we are lucky enough to have the chance to host him and learn from his vast experience in the world of Meditation primarily in the tradition of Tibetan Tantra. Check the link below to read more. We can provide cushions and if you need a chair please bring one.
On the weekend of April 12 – 14 we have the next Native Yoga Immersion. It is with great pleasure that Tamara and I hold these teacher training weekends once per month. The Immersion program allows you to achieve RYT 200, 300 and 500. Students who are interested in deepening their understanding of yoga history, philosophy and practice are encouraged to join. Check the link below to see the themes of each workshop offered.
On Wednesday, April 17th Native Yoga Center turns 13 Years old. When we opened we had the dream of holding a space where we could offer authentic yoga classes and host world renowned teachers with the goal of providing the best yoga has to offer to the Juno Beach community. Now, 13 years later, we feel that we have achieved this goal. So what next…..to KEEP THE DREAM ALIVE. We are so thankful to all of you who have supported this space over the years. We vow to continue to be present and available on the grassroots and local level that has made Native such a huge success. Check the link below. Free Yoga all day. Tell your friends and family.
The Immersion weekend for May is posted below:
In June I am going to attempt to paddle my SUP from Bimini, Bahamas 80 miles across the Gulf Stream to Lake Worth, Florida. The event is called Crossing for a Cure and the money we raise benefits children and families affected by Cystic Fibrosis. I have developed a new fundraising class idea called the Crossing for a Cure Yoga Challenge. Check the link below for full details. The basic gist is to take the Child’s Pose and see how long you can hold it without moving. This is a way of testing your endurance in a very safe manner to discover your potential to overcome difficulty with mental poise and concentration. Come see how you fair. I’ts bound to be an interesting experience. 100% of proceeds raised will be donated to Piper’s Angels.
To top it all off we have return guest meditation teacher Anthony Profeta bring his amazing quartz crystal bowl for an evening of sound vibration meditation called Sound Bath. Come check it out
Thank you for reading and we look forward to seeing you soon at Native Yoga Center.
Peace and Love,
Today I paddled in the ocean for close to 2 hours and did a combination of upwind, downwind and sidewind runs covering 4.4 miles. The wind was blowing onshore out of the East at about 5-10 Mph.
After reading David Goggins book, Can’t Hurt Me, I have decided to implement two of his training strategies today.
- Train in conditions that potentially are much more difficult than you may or may not encounter during the actual event.
- Use what is called an After Action Report, or AAR, commonly used in the military. An AAR is used to asses what happened and to see what could have been done differently so as to insure success in future missions.
Going upwind is a very slow and arduous process. Add swell into the mix and it becomes a slow going balance act. I am really practicing trying to keep really calm and expend as little energy as possible to sustain balance and still drive forward. When floating on the surface of a rough ocean it takes constant leg and core work to stay upright. I definitely found that if I try ‘to hard’ to not fall it used up a ton of energy. Oh yes, I did fall a couple of times today which actually felt really good and refreshing. There were a ton of Portuguese Man-of-War which aren’t jellyfish but a colony of small organisms called Siphonophorae. They sting pretty bad so it was bit of an obstacle course to make sure I did not land on one of those guys. So that element added to the feeling that I would prefer to stay out of the water as much as possible.
Once I would make it a fair distance off shore I would turn around and work on my downwind skills. This is harder than it sounds. When you are in the trough you start to generate as much forward momentum as possible so as to get caught up by the mid surface face of the swell that is approaching from behind. If done well the wave pushes you and it is like surfing for a few seconds and you can stop paddling to rest a short moment and still enjoy forward momentum. Sounds easy right? Well, it is not as easy as the Youtube videos from the dudes in Hawaii make it look. I did get to connect a couple of runs together and got my board speed up to 9 miles per hour. Once I got close to shore I turned around and did it again and made a total of 5 runs. It is kind of like when you see guys hike up huge mountains of snow all day and then ride down for a total of like 10 minutes. The ratio of work to coasting is definitely tilted toward the work side versus the coasting. I totally freaking love it! It is so much fun. It is so challenging and I just want to get back out there and do it again. I love being out in the ocean and the solitude of the experience is really amazing and peaceful.
So what will I do different?
- Start doing some extra High Intensity Interval Training on my rebounder to build up my leg strength. I planned to paddle for 3 hours and after 2 my legs were feeling like noodles.
- Next paddle session like this I am going to try for 2.5 hrs.
- Spend more time in ocean and less in the intracoastal waterway. These are 2 completely different challenge experiences. I want to up my ocean time to get more efficient in turbulance.
Before heading to the beach today I received an email from someone who I was introduced to that has a child with Cystic Fibrosis. He offered so many words of appreciation and encouragement for my involvement in fund raising for this cause. I was already excited to get in the ocean today. When I read his email it gave my training session in incredible sense of purpose. When I am heading out toward the horizon, going up and down trough to crest and creeping along at the pace of a turtle. Side note, a sea turtle would kick my butt in a race at this point. I am left with my mind begging the question. Why? The note I received today was the answer I needed. It was the fuel that propelled me forward. Thanks to your support we are pushing forward. Crossing for a Cure!
Join us this weekend for practice with Krista Shirley. Now is the time to focus and put your goals in the frontline of your mind. Use your body to sharpen your intentions. Get out of the “lazy mind” and activate your self toward your highest potential.