The Board Yogi
The “bored yogi?” No, the board yogi. That might sound like a funny title for this blog post, but if I tell you how I became the Board Yogi, perhaps it will make more sense.
My life last autumn seems like a lifetime away from where I am today. I was the chief marketing officer of a hot start-up in Silicon Valley, taking care of my partner and his kids and managing a busy social life and travel schedule. I have always been very healthy and active, surfing, snowboarding, practicing yoga and eating in a healthy way, but I was also a real workaholic, commuting 3 hours a day, not sleeping enough and a woman working in boardrooms with very aggressive and political male colleagues.
In October, I suffered a high blood pressure episode at a work event that nearly caused me to suffer a stroke. It was a real wake up call as I was used to stressful situations, to high adrenaline situations at work and in sports, but nothing like this had ever happened before. My doctors quickly diagnosed me with a stress related high blood pressure condition and recommended taking steps to prevent another attack. I immediately set about making changes to my career and lifestyle in order to help improve that situation.
At the heart of my plan was finding balance and stress relief by upping the level of yoga, pranayama and meditation in my daily routine. I also immediately requested to cut back my hours at the office, transitioning from CMO to a part time role, and doing more work from home. Knowing I needed some help with this new path, I went online to look for a Yin yoga teacher training course, as I had begun practicing this form of yoga a year earlier at a surf and yoga retreat with legendary surfer, Gerry Lopez, who teaches Yin yoga, and found it to be highly beneficial to my ability to relax and settling into my meditation seat.
In March of this year, I left my role at the office entirely and embarked on studying Yin yoga with Andrea Jean of Yogacara on the big island in Hawaii. The training was everything that I hoped it would be and it was amazing that I could learn so much in such a concentrated amount of time. Learning the science behind how the poses and practice impact the body and mind were key to being able to bring those teachings to others. Our daily, hour-long, silent meditations were also a super impactful part of that immersion and has become the key components of my current routine that has helped me the most.
That Hawaii trip marked another big change in my life, as my partner of six years decided to end our relationship in an email while I was there. It was devastating for me, being suddenly alone and separated from him and the kids – I was hurt, in shock and looking for answers. Not knowing quite what to do, a month later I found myself in Bali with my surfboard and yoga mat and enrolled in a Blissology 200 hour yoga teacher training.
The intensity of a month long yoga teacher training in a hot, tropical climate is not to be underestimated! Despite the long days, the immense amount of course material, and the great physical work involved in studying and practicing asana, there really was pure joy in that month. The bonds and friendships made in that yoga shala will certainly last a lifetime and I am incredibly grateful to have had that experience at just that moment in my life when I was so vulnerable, open and searching for answers.
During the training and after, I spent all available free time in the ocean and surfing. The warm waters were nurturing and restorative. Having such lush, primal beauty all around was such an amazing gift. To be able to paddle out in the dark every morning before the sunrise and to ride some of the best, biggest, glassy left hand waves in the world was really the medicine my heart needed to heal (the aqua yoga of my practice).
Nature has the power to bring us back to our most authentic and natural selves. She brings us to the place inside where our hearts already know what we need in order to regain our balance, our joy and our health. I listened to that voice, bathed in my own inner wisdom and again learned to share the wealth of joy and love that I found within. Spending time in nature is also very much at the core of the Blissology school of yoga.
The mat and the board were together the containers, the altars and the workspaces for my yoga practice and for the magic of change and restoration to come together for my body, mind and spirit. Learning to be really present, to ride with my breath and to work with the flow of nature helped me understand, intuitively, that I was going to be okay and that all parts of life are inherently beautiful.
It is this magical blend of surfing and yoga that I am so eager to bring to others and now plan to make my career in teaching yoga at surf camps and events, sharing what I have learned with others on and off the mat and board and hopefully helping others to find peace and joy in their lives, no matter what kinds of stresses or unexpected situations may come their way.
Nearly 8 months after my life changing health scare, my blood pressure is back in a safe and almost “normal” zone; I am still serving as advisor to my old start-up; I am spending time with my ex and his kids in a loving and positive way; I am a newly-certified Yin and Blissology teacher and am feeling truly blessed, peaceful and ready for whatever the waves of life bring next.
This is how I came to be the Board Yogi by learning to focus my energy on the surfboard not the boardroom and taking what I have learned on the board and the mat and bring it to other parts of my life and the world. I have a vision of sharing the unique medicine that yoga and surfing can bring our lives and to help make room for more joy in our lives.
I will be forever grateful to my family, to my teachers, to Hawaii, to Bali and to my friends and fellow yogis for their help and their love on this amazing ride.