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Lessons From the Board

By Brenna Backe, owner of Koa Fit Personal Training Studio in Boulder, CO.  She travels with Women’s Quest and has taught Strong Balance Class at the Surf retreats in Costa Rica.

3 flights, 2 days, and a bumpy ride down a dirt road later, I was standing at the edge of the Pacific Ocean.  Listening to the waves and the wind, smelling the salt water mixed with a hint of gardenia, and feeling my shoulders drop about 2 inches as I instantly relax when I feel the warmth of the sun.  Playa Hermosa is a special slice of heaven with beauty in both the beaches and the people.  My senses are overloaded with awesomeness.

This is my second year coming with Colleen to Costa Rica and I am happy to be back. I last about 5 minutes before I am in my suit and in the water.  85 degree both water and air is perfection. Paddling out on my board to my instructor and Surf Shaman, Ishmael, I start to think of all the things this sport has taught me.  The lessons learned (and earned) from this magical sport apply directly to everyday life.  Below are a few of the most important things I learned while sitting in the ocean on my board.

  1. Go With The Flow – If there is one thing you don’t want to do, it is fight the ocean.  She will always win.  It is better to tap into her natural rhythm and use it to help you.  This is true for all of life as well.  Always fighting the natural rhythms of life leaves you feeling exhausted and frustrated.   Rolling with the natural ebb and flow of your day helps you feel more connected to nature, to your loved ones, and to your body.
  2. Timing Is Everything – When you are paddling out or paddling for a wave, timing is more important than strength.  Having patience to wait for the best waves and paddling at just the right time helps conserve energy and rewards you with great rides.  Having patience with yourself and others can lead to amazing things.  Opportunities arise that you might have missed if you were frantically marching along.  Taking a moment to slow-down and process helps us feel more secure and confident about moving forward in life.
  3. Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy – The return on you investment is very black and white with surfing.  You paddle out with all your mite, breathe, and strength, and you are rewarded with a sweet wave and the feeling of accomplishment.  This is repeated over and over throughout your surf session.  In a world of instant gratification and technology that “helps” us with the heavy lifting, this simple lesson gets lost.  Hard work helps us feel powerful and confident.  Look for opportunities to challenge yourself.
  4. Believe in Yourself – You will not make it to the outside line-up without a little faith in yourself.  Believing you can do it, can make the difference between a swift paddle out and getting caught in the impact zone.  The ocean does not reward hesitation.  If you want to gain the most in your life, you have to believe in yourself.  It takes a lot of courage to have the confidence to know you can do it, but you can!  You must believe.
  5. Sing Songs with Your Friends – Some of the best moments on my board are sitting out in the ocean, waiting for waves, and singing and laughing with my friends.  With no place to be, no TV to distract us, we go back to how hanging out should be.  We sing, laugh, and solve the world’s problems.  Talking and connecting with your friends and family should be a priority.  It keeps us connected and also increases our ability to be compassionate to others.