Yoga Evolution

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Royal Dancer balance position

In the last year, yoga has come to mean more to me than simply a way to exercise or a way to de-stress. It has become a grounding point for me. The lessons we learn on the mat carry over into life off the mat. The muscle memory we learn in yoga help us when pursuing sports and allows us to perform better, physically. The calming breathing techniques keep us calm in the midst of the crises that bombard our day. Are their times I practice a nice, loud lion’s breath exhale? Admittedly, only in certain company (or no company)! But, it’s the consistent practice and the experience that can keep you as cool as Patrick Swayze in the midst of a massive, ugly bar fight, Roadhouse style.

I have praised the youtube yogi sensation, Yoga with Adriene in a previous blog post. I still follow her and highly recommend her to anyone who is interested in yoga – whether a brand new yogi or an expeirenced one. She is professional, fun, and free. It’s hard to find the time to get out of the house and get to a yoga class. Parents need to take care of their bodies, minds, and souls. We have an incredible job of raising our youngsters, and raising them well. This is perfect!

Right now, I am following Adriene’s new series, True. I love that her dog, Benji, is just hanging out in the video with her. Usually, I have my dog, likewise, sleeping nearby, a little 2-year-old cat rolling around next to me, trying to attack my arms or my mat, and my 3 year old occasionally taking breaks from playing legos and jumping next to me on the carpet wanting to do “his exercise and his yoga.” His downward dog is solid. And what better way can I teach my kiddo a healthy lifestyle than by living it and being an example to him from the get-go?

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My short board praying for bigger waves. Shaped by famous board shaper Ricky Carroll at my friend Cliff Millender’s old surf shop back in da day. B-day gift from my husband seven years ago who bought it from Cliff.

We’re in surf season around here in the northern gulf. Winter/spring kicks up some good storms and some nice waves. Hurricane season will, too, but we don’t have to fear the weather channel right now. I’m a longboard girl, mostly because I started surfing later in life, and I live in Florida, but I’ve ridden my short board, and while I don’t really shred and won’t be trying as a wild card in any major surf competitions at the age of 41, surfing is something I can do the rest of my life, unlike other sports. And yoga supports my surf addiction, love for kayaking, as well as my newfound love for paddle boarding. Yoga helps my balance. I remember to lift up from my center and correct the alignment of my core while paddling. I can control my surfboard and my paddle board better because of my yoga practice and muscle memory. I can run around and play with my son, Mac. I throw a football better! I can help my husband move a piece of moderately heavy furniture. I no longer suffering from lower back issues, like I used to. None of us is getting younger, but we can feel younger in our bodies through the practice of yoga.

Whatever your workout regimen, work in a little yoga. You will not regret it.

Namaste,

J.

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Paddle Boarding – Anything but Boring!

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Saturday, the water at Dune Allan Beach here on 30a looked like northern lights had infiltrated the water. The array of colbalt, aqua, green, and blue appeared absolutely majestic. The sandbars that rose in two stripes of pale terquoise gave a lighter end of the blue spectrum and a place on which to stand and observe the surroundings. On the first sandbar, we clearly saw a sting ray swimming about seven feet from us. Once I pointed it out, crowds on the beach came to observe.

The water has been rather chilly, especially since we had a cold front pass through last week. I don’t mind getting in, however, especially when the sun is out. I have spent my life swimming in the natural springs of north Florida, and I’ve surfed the Atlantic in cooler months, so I am used to the colder temperatures. Come late summer, some days the gulf is so warm, I prefer swimming pools, cooler, spring-fed rivers, and boating farther out in the gulf.

While we were relaxing and playing on the beach, a man who as about our parents’ ages came off the water with his paddle board. We asked how his session was, and after chatting for a few minutes about boarding – paddle, surf, and the beach in general – he offered us the opportunity to try out his board. I have known I wanted to give paddle boarding a try, especially after watching paddle boarders catch some nice rides. My husband insisted I go, so I did. I don’t know why I was surprised our new friend, Dave, who was down from Tuscaloosa, AL for the weekend, offered up his paddle board, but I was. It was good old fashioned southern hospitality and the surf sharing culture in action.

Strapping on the leash, guiding the board out onto the water, parallel to me and perpendicular to the shore, I felt right at ┬áhome. I hopped up on the board, but stayed on my knees. The paddle – the inverted side is not the side that pushes the water. It’s contrary to what one might think.

Kayaking and surfing all in one! Brilliant. With my years of kayaking our rivers back home- I paddled out well. The boarding differences were another challenge. Okay – can’t lie down because you have the paddle; control with your core and legs while kneeling but not while lying down; paddle and don’t run into those kids!; don’t stand up because it’s choppy and you have your prescription sunglasses on- can’t lose those.

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An audible, “I’ve got this. I can do this,” sent out to the vast blue stretching in front of me. Nothing but ocean. I was alone. Isolated. In no time, I was on the second sandbar, my destination. It was fast! Easy compared to paddling on a surfboard through wash and chop.

Before I moved to Santa Rosa Beach, paddle boarding seemed boring. Dullsville. Why work for no fun? No waves? In surfing, your willing to kill yourself paddling out to soar back in on a killer ride. Who wanted to paddle flat water, endlessly?

I figured I’d give it a try…sometime. When there weren’t waves. SUP yoga looked like a fun challenge. But, in general, paddle boarding looked tame.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

On the way back in, I felt a few lilts of the board. It was nice – not a crazy rush, but fun. I will be able to catch waves one paddle board here on the gulf on a quiet day. The clarity of the water and view of the ocean and shore while moving slowly over the water is spectacular. Paddle board stoke, baby! I have it! Really…I know I sound cheesy, but who cares.

The coolest thing about boarding and kayaking – you can get to places in nature you never could by foot or boat. I have always said that about kayaking, and I see it with paddle boarding. I am looking forward to exploring some of the freshwater rivers and gorgeous and rare tidal pools unique to this area.

I have a lifelong love affair with water and nature. I am so glad my husband and son do, too. It makes the Florida life so much better, after all. I’m happy to add paddle boarding to my water exploration.

Aloha.