Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Few Words On SUP YOGA by Len Barrow

I was flipping through a surf journal a few months ago and I saw a number of photos of what seemed to be people doing yoga on their SUPs.  At first, I was aghast at where the “trend” was going.  But upon further contemplation, I thought is it was a great idea.

Over the past few months I have seen friends gathering into two camps in regards to surf Yoga.  One group roughly thought it was a corruption of the sport, while another group felt that it was a positive trend.  As to myself, I shall explain.

I have always had a concern that SUP sports are easily popularized.  No one can deny that the SUP sport gives quick access to the sport of surfing or ocean paddling for people who have not had a long background in the ocean sports.  In fact, some surf breaks our over run by SUP surfers and conflicts do arise yet is surf Yoga a good development, and not a “corruption of the sport”?

I think it is a good development.  In the context of this blog “Zen-Waterman” it is appropriate to investigate this phenomena.   In Zen the control of one’s attention, into a laser-like focus is key to the practice.  That is why Zen folk of old meditate.  The Abidharma written 2,500 years ago (literally translated “super-dharma”) has a theory of Zen psychology that is remarkably modern and dealt with the control of attention.  They regarded the mind as an infinite field with every possible seed.  These included seeds of anger, hatred and frustration and the like.  The field also included seeds of equanimity, happiness, calmness, kindness and compassion.  Conscious focused attention attained during meditation was regarded as a “garden watering pot” of sorts.  If you watered angry seeds with attention, you would become an angry person.  On the other hand if you watered the seeds of happiness, compassion and the such, you would become a more positive person.  That is literally why Zen people meditate, to control their attention so can be careful as to what seeds they water. 

So let us apply this to Stand Up Yoga.  I must admit, I thought it was a bit silly and a corruption to our sport.  I then looked at the “sport” more closely.   Yoga on flat ground takes a great deal of attention to physical posture and breathing.  I once entered a yoga class thinking it would be easy only to have been schooled by “nimble humans” who were really into it.  It was hard for me and required a lot of attention. I then thought to myself, “that to do this on a Sup would even require more attention”.  Remember a Sup surfboard has a center point and can tip one over into the water.  Yoga on a Sup must be exponentially harder on a Sup than it is on flat land, as you have to be literally absolutely centered or you fall off thus it must require a great deal of attention.  This is where I came to my endpoint.  This new sport requires focused attention and therefore it is a benefit to all involved.  This focused attention can be used to water positive seeds of the mind and the person can “cultivate” a life with more equanimity.  Therefore SUP Yoga is a legitimate sport with great physical and especially mental benefits.

I suppose I will have to give it a try one day.

But then I still think it is funny looking, and dorkey thing to do…but after all I am a dork!  Haha!


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