How learnings from a surf and yoga holiday can improve your everyday life
Life lessons taught by the ocean.
I feel tension in my body.
My muscles are strained, my face is tense. Even though I’m at the sunny beach in Mimizan-Plage,
South of France – with a surfboard under my arm!
The tension I feel in my body has developed in my mind. Some unsolved private things keep me busy
in my mind and the wild, choppy ocean – it’s a bit of everything what makes me restless.
I put my board on the sand and stretch a bit. I already feel something loosening up, but it’s not done
yet. The waves are a bit bigger than I expected and I’m struggling to find the best spot to go into the
water. More tension. Stress.
Paddle like a freak
I crave for the surf instructors of the Pura Vida Surf Lodge in Mimizan – the place I am at home when
I’m at the French Atlantic Coast. But it’s not a surf lesson, I went surfing on my own. So I try to think of
their advice: Keep calm, observe the ocean. Try to paddle in where there are not or less waves.
So I take my time to spot the right place. Then I take my board and paddle out, prepared to get rid of
all the shitload of thoughts in my head.
The waves are coming from everywhere, so it’s not so easy to paddle out. White salty foam crashes
into my face – as if it wanted to slap the tension out of my facial muscles.
Finally, I make it behind the whitewash. Exhausted, I drag myself to sit on my board. I inhale, exhale.
The tension loosens a bit. I take a moment just to sit there. But the peace and quiet doesn’t last long
The first set of waves arrives, and I get stressed again. My heartrate rises. I’m not ready. But I ignore
that feeling and paddle.
This wave? Or better the other one? Are there other surfers I have to watch out for? Which way is it
breaking to? Am I in the right spot …?
I hustle, try to find the right position on my board, paddle like a complete freak, chasing the first wave I
see way too fast, already loose too much energy … and before I know, I am under water, getting
washed, feeling the leash pulling my ankle.
Diving and letting go
Under water, something happens. It’s not easy, but I stay calm. I am not panicking, because I know
that’s not good (I hear the surf instructors voice of the Pura Vida Surf Lodge in Mimizan in my head).
I just let go.
The moment I emerge from the wild, 17 degrees cold, deep blue and endless bathtub, there’s no time
to think about anything, because the next wave is already about to crash down right in front of me. I
look around to make sure I can let go off my board, and just dive under the wave.
I feel the weight and power of the crashing wave above me, caressing my back powerfully, showing
me: “Nothing bad is happening, if you stay calm. But for now, you have to withstand it.”
The set is over, I manage to paddle back to the line up. I know I wanted too much too fast, and I feel I
lost a lot of energy.
But something else is gone: one part of the big tension. Something I wanted to resist, something I
didn’t want to accept, I don’t know what exactly, but it’s gone.
Still, I feel I’m not exactly at place.
“I’m not sure I can do this”, I say to myself out loud. I look around. Intimidated by the other surfers
around me, who have the time of their lives in the (for me) big waves, I want to give up. But something
within myself says no. Not yet, at least. I scan the deep blue horizon, where the next set of wave
I decide to paddle a bit to the right, just a little bit, change my position.
It’s a bit calmer there, not as many other surfers as before. I think “maybe that’s because here are just
no waves”. But in the end, I stay there and decide to just wait a bit longer. I trust my instincts.
The power of seeing familiar faces in the water
Then I spot someone … wait … I know that face! I see a friend I met during my surf holidays in the
Pura Vida Surf Lodge in Mimizan, who is just paddling out. I feel happy, less alone, and stay focused
on the upcoming waves. My self-confidence comes back.
I feel that I start to accept the situation and start to deeply enjoy my surroundings, almost meditating:
The cloudy horizon, the never-ending ocean, the steady movement of waves, the salty wind, the
beach and the houses on top of the dunes of Mimizan-Plage, that appear so tiny from my point of
Everything I had in my head feels tiny (except the waves, haha). Everything is so far away.
And there it is: I see a wave. No, it’s better: I feel the wave.
But what if I fly?
I’m in the right spot. I just know it. I look behind me and see the wave. “You’re for me”, I think with such
determination, I’m surprised about myself. It’s not a small wave. But it’s not too big either. I can do it. I
did it before. I trust my ability on decision making.
I paddle, with everything I have, but I’m not rushing. I take my time, feel being carried by the wave,
stand up …. and ride it! I celebrate the ride like it’s the best thing that I ever achieved in my life.
A very good friend of mine always says there’s two perspectives:
You can ask yourself:
“But what if I fall?“
Or you can ask yourself: “But what if I fly?” This time, I flew.
I think I love surfing so much, because not just a sport, but a lifestyle. A lot you learn in the ocean can
help you in everyday life as well. And of course, surfing is not just a perfect exercise for the body, but
for your soul as well. That’s why the Pura Vida Surf Lode in Mimizan combines surfing lessons with
(free) yoga and thus is the perfect spot if you go on a surf and yoga holiday.
I chose to stay in the Pura Surf Vida Lodge in Mimizan as well for another reason: The team creates a
super familiar group vibe and it’s just super easy to make a bunch of new friends who share your
passion for surfing.
Here’s some “Life lessons taught by the ocean” (this list is just an excerpt; of course you can just add
your own learnings and keep them for your daily routine):
Lesson 1: Focus on your breath and take time to calm down
Focusing on your breath can help to calm down. That’s what we already learn in yoga, but I use it as
well in surfing or in any stressful (or even non-stressful) situation in everyday life. The waves of the
ocean can be equally stressful as the waves of mails or calls overflowing our mailboxes.
Remember that calming down can take a while: Give your body time and don’t try to push yourself into
Lesson 2: Accept & let go
To solve whatever problem keeps you busy, it can help to first of all accept the situation. Acceptance
might be hard at first, but it helps to clear your mind and look at whatever it is from a different
perspective. Fighting against it (e.g. the waves) too hard for too long won’t help but make you lose
even more energy. Sometimes, you have to let go. This as well might not be easy, maybe even painful
and might take time, but letting go helps you to make space in your head and move on.
Lesson 3: Be present and change your perspective
Try to get out of the past or the future. Focus on the present, on the moment. For example, focusing
on your breath (see lesson 1) can help to achieve that. Whether you take the time to look inside
yourself or observe what’s around you: Changing your perspective on something can have a mind-
blowing effect and make the problem or whatever it is more tiny and thus less overwhelming. That
applies for the ocean as well as for your everyday life!
Lesson 4: Be patient
If you rush things too hard, it seldomly turns out well. That applies for waves as well as for
presentations or making life-changing decisions. To be patient and not to take the first best wave that
comes along is not always easy, but it’s one of the things I learned from surfing that helps perfectly in
everyday life situations. This is closely connected to finding listening to your intuition.
Lesson 5: Try to keep calm, even when in the washing-machine
Staying calm even when the ocean puts you into the washing machine is maybe one of the hardest
things in surfing (and in life). For a long time, I had lots of trouble keeping calm while being washed, be
it the one in the ocean or the one in my mailbox.
But it’s important to keep calm and it’s very closely connected to knowing your limits and setting
Did you know? The Pura Vida Surf Lodge in Mimizan-Plage offers a surf package especially for
advanced surfers, where you can learn to overcome and handle your fears in case the washing-
machine gets a bit bigger. Check out the package for advanced surfers here: LINK
Lesson 6: Know yourself, trust your instincts and your ability of decision-making
Way too often, we push away “that feeling” in our guts. Because it’s uncomfortable or we don’t have
time or we think it’s not important or we think we can’t do it, “there’s no way”.
But at the same time this feeling is one of the most important ones when it comes to help our decision-
making, because it’s an indicator for what we really want, deep down. To “hear” what that feeling has
to say to us and to allow it come to the surface, we have to have a good connection to ourselves.
Surfing and yoga can help to build this connection. Surfing can help to get to know ourselves better,
trust the instinctive feelings we have in our belly and at the same time can foster our decision-making
skills. In the end, it’s our decision to listen to it – be it in the water or in everyday life.
Lesson 7: Don’t give up
I cannot count how many times I fell off my board. Nor the washing-machines I’ve been into. I cannot
count how many times I had to overcome my own fears and to try even the waves were bigger (and for
me, “bigger” waves are what others still would call small 😀 ). The muscle pain and other little injuries
not to speak of.
But: I still go in, again and again. And I get better. Not very fast, but I do. And that’s the most rewarding
feeling you can adapt to many situations in life.
If you really want something, don’t give up too fast. I don’t say there are no limits and you carefully
have to watch your physical and mental (!) boundaries, but sometimes you are able to overcome
boundaries you couldn’t even imagine before.
Lesson 8: Go find your spot; don’t wait for things to come to you
Sometimes I sit in the water and wait, as if the ocean might present me the perfect wave if I just waited
long enough. This might be okay (and comfortable) for a while, but if you see other surfers catching
wave after wave, whereas you continue to be blessed with only slightly swinging water, you might want
to move a bit and change your position. This may apply to life as well: Try to move when you’re
stagnating or not content with something. It doesn’t have to be a big change all out of a sudden,
sometimes it’s already enough just to paddle a bit more into another direction.
Lesson 9: Move!
Surfing (and sports in general) is a wonderful way to stay healthy. Surfing can not only strengthen the
body, but as well it can have a positive impact on your mental health as well. In France, there were
even projects in which surfing was subscribed instead of or in combination with medication. The
“inertia” explains that surfing can “improve oxygenation of tissue, your mood, tone, quality of sleep and
Lesson 10: Surround yourself with people who share your passion(s)
This is one of the things that I just realized again: being around people who share your passion can
feel so empowering. It can push and nourish you and can open new doors and perspectives. It can
push your thinking into new directions that were beyond your imagination before. It doesn’t matter
whether it’s surfing together or talking about your favorite literature.
Whether you go to the Pura Vida Surf Lodge in Mimizan-Plage and let yourself emerge into the unique
group atmosphere, or you go to your local sports club (or whatever your passion is) back home –
being around like-minded people will make you happy and brighten your day.
Lesson 11: Find Balance
Too much of anything can make you sick. But sometimes, it’s not easy to find a balance between work,
social life, sports, family, vacation … You don’t have to be balanced out perfectly at all times (I don’t
think that’s realistic), but it’s important to feel when the balance is disturbed and to adjust whatever
part a little bit.
Yoga is a nice complement to surfing. It can help you to balance out your body as well as your mind.
Additionally, Yoga can lower the level of cortisol, the hormon responsible for emotional and physical
stress (source: https://conseilsport.decathlon.fr/quels-sont-les-bienfaits-du-yoga-pour-la-sante-
Because yoga and surfing go hand in hand, the Pura Vida Surf Lodge in Mimizan-Plage offers free
yoga everyday. It’s a perfect way to start the day at the beach of the beautiful river right behind the
lodge or to end the day and calm down after a demanding surf day. Ready for your surf and yoga
Lesson 12: Do what you love as often as you can
Yes, this phrase is directly stolen from one of the motivational cards or calendars or whatever you can
get – but I have to admit it’s true. I love to surf, and each day I’m not in the water feels … as if
somethings missing. I feel less energized. Sometimes it helps to do some something else I love, for
example being creative.
But why is it so rewarding? I think doing what you love can give you energy, while doing something
you’re not really into, but have to do (accounting in my case) will make you feel tired. It can make you
feel “high” and give you the feeling of being in the “flow”.
Bad weather, missing swell … what if there’s no surf? Don’t worry, the Pura Vida Surf Lodge in
Mimizan offers a lot of surf-related or other activities you can enjoy: Yoga (free), Jeu de Boules (free),
Surf skate lessons, Slack line (free), massages, Balance Boards (free), do a bike tour to the lake (free)
… or just relax at the pool!