The Weekend Australian Feb 22–23, 2003
They are called 'soul surfers,'
preferring meditation and yoga to beer and bases — welcome to the new
breed of wave riders, saluting the sun on a beach near you.
Modern-day surfers are interested not
only in catching that perfect wave but being of sound mind, body and
spirit while doing it.
Pro-surfers such as Americans Michelle Ballard and Taylor Knox and
Australian Tom Carroll, are advocates of combining alternative exercise
with their day job, and even created a website devoted to the subject.
Sydney yoga teacher Robert Bates, 21,
surfs daily with his mate Dorje, a 30-yearold former Buddhist monk who
meditates before hitting the waves at Bondi Beach, while Bates does his
yoga stretches in the sand.
Bates said the combination of his two
passions helped him to be flexible enough to surf properly and be
mentally focused while he's riding a wave.
"The only thing limiting you is your
mind," he said.
"I've started learning how the mind works so when you take that into a
big-wave situation you can concentrate. Through yoga you can breath and
visualize and just be really focused."
He said there were more people wanting
to surf and tune their body either through stretches or meditation.
One of Australia's top professional
surfers, Dave Rastovich, said the international circuit was still full
of stereotypical dudes who like to party, but the attitudes are
"Tom Carroll has been doing yoga for a while and he's even better now
(at surfing) than before," he said. "And I'm positive that yoga has
something to do with that."
Rastovich, who lives near Byron bay on
the far north coast of NSW, took up yoga six years ago and now
practices before and even during a surfing session, often stretching
whikle sitting on his board and waiting for a wave.
"Surfing is a pretty intense activity
for your body and I always wanted to do something to counteract surfing
for hours at a time," he said. "I try to do my yoga slowly, sort of
semi-meditational. It's incredible. It makes me super conscious and
aware of my body in the water."
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