This ain’t yo’ mama’s yoga: hula hoop & slack line yoga, surfing

This ain’t yo’ mama’s yoga: hula hoop & slack line yoga, surfing

“‘Now,’ he thought, ‘that all these transitionary things have slipped away from me again, I stand once more beneath the sun, as I once stood as a small child. Nothing is mine, I know nothing, I possess nothing, I have learned nothing…’ He had to smile again. Yes, his destiny was strange! He was going backwards, and now he stood empty and naked and ignorant in the world. But he did not grieve about it; no, he even felt a great desire to laugh, to laugh at himself, to laugh at this strange, foolish world” -Herman Hesse

Hanging with Soy makes me feel like a kid again- “yoga” with Soy isn’t sitting stiff-backed and cross-legged, blending into a classful of yogis and meditating on profound lessons about life.  It’s about trying new things, playing around and embracing looking ridiculous.  I’m a klutzy, long-limbed being who has never snowboarded, never skateboarded… when it comes to boards, I can shuffleboard.  On a good day.  With two feet firmly planted on ground.  But having no experience at these things, I decided to approach it with the careless abandon of a child.  On a beach, there’s plenty to inspire this perspective.  I’ve seen kids deciding to bury their head in the sand by screwing their scalp in the sand and toddlers building sand castles in the same spot with relentless determination even when the waves regularly wash them away… they don’t think, they just go!  And that’s what you need to do with these things.

Soy on the slack line

Soy on the slack line

Life Lessons Learned

Even testing out the slack line, my whole body started shaking like a wobbly chicken, she yelled, “Just go for it, girl! You just gotta stand!” and I stood!  And promptly fell.  But when you’ve only got a couple feet to fall or when you’re trying something in the water, you fall and the water catches you and you’re fine, even if the subsequent wave crashes into you or you snort in some salt water.  But you live and you learn.  And that is life.  Not sticking with what’s comfortable and boring, instead, going out on a limb or jumping into the deep end.  As Neale Donald Walsch wrote, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” and if you never try anything new, you don’t know what you can do.

Another theme to my “multimedia” yoga adventures was the importance of a focal point or driste (as they call it in yoga).  When you’ve got arms akimbo, an unsteady surface and you barely know what’s going on, it’s amazing how something stable to aim for can ready center the body and the mind.  I think this too has implications for the way you live your life.  I’m all about not planning out every step of the path that will take you there (case in point: second week in Panama is still entirely unplanned) but having an eventually end goal in mind gives your life purpose and you can use that momentum to get somewhere, even if it’s not where you originally intended.

Prior to my surfing lesson with Phil, Rich, an ex-marine and trainer of special forces, stopped by the chair renting cabana to update Soy and Phil about a naked dating show that will be filmed at Red Frog Beach and surrounding areas starting early next week.  It sounds absolutely ridiculous.  3 couples arrive, are subsequently mixed up for dates on a jumble on jungle activities.  Rich will take them naked zip lining, they’ll catch dinner while naked spear fishing, Soy is in charge of the naked SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboard) yoga lesson and Phil will be doing a naked surf lesson.  When I was lying belly on the board with him timing the waves behind me, I kept swallowing back giggles at the thought of him having to stare up someone’s crotch on an already awkward date.  A driste point helped me get my serious surfer face and although the waves were a little weeny, I was able to get up a half dozen times.

Soy cracking coconuts

Soy cracking coconuts- this is a hairy one with both meat and water, after the outer edge was removed

Survival Island Tactics

In addition to trying all these activities, Soy and Phil enlightened me on survival island tactics.  We threw things, climbed things, shook things and poked things to creatively dislodge coconuts from the nearby trees.  As we drank the water and replenished our “electric lights”, I learned about the coconut lifecycle.  The green ones have sweet water but no nut (no coconut meat to eat) but as they get brown, you need to crack off the outer layer to reveal the hairy part and then can enjoy both the meat (supposedly delicious with peanut butter) and the water.  They taught me how to wield a machete and I tentatively made progress to getting to the good stuff.

They also taught me about how to spot and survive riptides, a huge problem on Panamaian beaches.  Apparently the natives prefer “squishy” beaches, where the sand doesn’t create the sandbars that causes the dangerous undertow.  It’s better to avoid them in the first place by looking at the water patterns but if you do get caught, remain calm and swim parallel to the current!

I learned that if I want to build a palapa (those thatched huts on the beach huts that shade sunbathers), I should not harvest the leaves under a full moon, or the bugs will eat it all.  (We didn’t build one but supposedly, it’s true!)

In Conclusion

As you can tell, the “retreat” turned into playtime with Soy and Phil.  Soy has been on her own since the age of 14, seems to have fit in several reincarnations during her 26 years.  Throughout the days, she recalled her hardcore hippie phase, skater girl phase, vegan phase, raw food phase… and the list goes on!  She’s cooled down her fiery Mexican, Native American and Italian blood (her twin sister is an iron worker in Oregon… they’re hardcore!), chosen a life that gives her flexibility and freedom to do what she loves and has become much more “chill” because of it (although that’s probably not the first word that comes to mind when you see her bouncing around the premises, spreading the love).  I’m leaving Red Frog with a renewed perspective on life, not because she told me to think a certain way or to follow a certain school of thought, but because that’s what worked for me.  I challenge you, lovely readers, to do something outside your comfort zone this week and see what you discover!  And definitely visit Soy and Phil during your lifetime if you can, their beautiful souls and excellent instruction shouldn’t be missed!

Song of the Moment: Panama– Van Halen (courtesy of brother Jimmy)

If YOU want to meet Soy and Phil: Visit Red Frog Bungalows at Red Frog Beach in Bocas del Toro, Panama. Soy is moving away from doing retreats but she and Phil will be at the Bungalows for 6 months out of the year and they offer surf and SUP lessons and rentals.  For a two-hour paddleboard tour (lesson, tour of the mangroves and introduction to SUP yoga), Soy charges $35 for a private lesson for $30 for two or more. Surf rates should be similar.

If you have two weeks to spare and limited funds, consider volunteering at Palmar Tent Lodge. For 20 hours a week of bar tending, checking in visitors, helping with basic cleaning or utilizing a special talent, you can stay for free and earn discounted meals (30% off during the day and 50% off family-style dinners).

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