I had an absolutely stunning morning and I have to share it. I don’t know why, but I do. Maybe as I write this out it will make sense why I”m sharing it, so here goes.
For the past few days I had gotten too enveloped into bitcoin and cryptocurrencies and it was somewhat taking over my life and me getting sucked into the drama in that space not realizing much it sucked me into its world. So I told myself if I wake up early I will go Stand-Up-Paddleboarding (SUP) in the ocean because I have access to a friends board/paddle and hadn’t gone for at least a year!
I woke up early in the morning and my head was heavy with sleep and I started making excuses. (It was already sunrise time and I started wishing I had woken up earlier because by the time I get in the water the glare from the sun would be too intense and yadda yadda yadda.)
So I said forget it and went on the computer. After a couple minutes on the computer I realized I didn’t want to do this. It’s 6am and I’m on the computer while nature is out there waiting for me. So I got my wetsuit, drove down to the beach, put some sunscreen on my face… got myself and the board out on the water. And from the very first moment that I entered the ocean, I noticed the water was very calm. Not as calm as a lake, but calm for an ocean. There was barely a swell and it was high-tide so it didn’t take much effort to go beyond the break of the waves. It was the gentlest entry into the water.
I started paddling slowly, getting acclimated to all the movements and I was immediately noting how similar SUPing is to slacklining and surfing, they all require very fast reactive actions, autonomously/automatically because if you need to consciously think about what you need to do, it’s probably too ate and you are probably going to fall by the time the thought has processed. And they also all require an extremely strong core since there’s a constant need to stabilize between the lower body and upper body.
I kept looking around and I kept realizing how difficult it was to visually take the entire landscape in. The ocean is just SO vast and looking at the bluffs and cliffs and mountains of Malibu pressed up against the coastline was equally jarring. It’s no wonder birds have such visual acuity… if they have to eye things from such a scale all the time.
Then, in the distance I noticed there were a bunch of birds having a feeding frenzy in this one spot. So I immediately started paddling to that spot. And even just the concept of being able to go to a random spot in the ocean with just a board was quite… how should i say…. it was quite different and liberating because the ocean is so vast and there aren’t even any rules in ocean with nobody to see you and nobody to judge you either. As I was paddling there, I was watching birds flying past me going to the same spot and I was thinking how inefficient SUP-ing is compared to flying.
As I got closer to the birds… I noticed suddenly that there were more than just birds.There were literally pairs of dolphins jumping out of the water.
But not just dolphins… there were seals, too! And they were shooting their body out of the water in sync with the dolphins. It was like a daisy chain of dolphins and seals jutting through the water in between birds flying around and cawing and diving. (Or were they sea lions? Shit, I don’t know. Louis CK has a great comedy skit about seals vs sea lions.)
And I thought for a moment, “How interesting that completely different species were playing together. Do humans even do that?” Then I remembered that dolphins are called humans of the sea (cause of their intelligence) and seals as the equivalent of dogs of the sea (cause they bark and have a mouth like a dog with canine teeth). Then it didn’t seem all that strange that dogs and humans would be running around / chasing each other and hunting together.
A minute later I realized I was very, very far away from the coast. Nobody here except the animals around me. The birds around me were making distinctly different sounds, making it obvious there were different species of birds present and I started yelling and mimicking them and making my own sounds as well to add to the hubbub.
Then came the Yoga on the Stand Up Paddleboard
After the seals and dolphins disappeared and the birds started to disperse, I realized I could do some yoga. I lay supine (on my back) and brought my knees to my chest and starting stretching my hips.
The destabilizing rocking motion of the ocean surface made everything on extra-hard mode and made every stretch deeper cause nothing was static, ever. When I went on hands and knees and tried a little bird-dog, I actually fell into the water trying to get used to it and realizing how much more difficult this was. (And bird-dog is one of my favorite things to do not just on the ground, but on the slackline as well, so I thought I was good at it, but nope, doing that on the SUP was extra hard.)
Every single thing was a complete challenge as if it was my first year of yoga and everything was shaky and difficult to enter or exit the poses. If I did all my yoga on a SUP, my core (and many other things) would probably be 10x stronger and more flexible because the constant rocking motion puts me deeper into the stretch while building stabilization strength and making my brain work in so many ways. Even just arm rotations in opposite directions were great fun.
I went through my wrist series and it helped open up my wrists even more. Even just scapular shrugs were evidently going to increase my protraction strength. Camel Pose and Camel Pose Sweeps required a bit of prep mentally to even fathom getting into for some reason… like I said, everything felt like I was new to yoga all of a sudden. It’s unfathomable how difficult it is to do this over an ocean. And the ocean was fairly calm. I wonder what it would be like if it was choppy!
The real crux of the matter was that I kept having to always find center, not just left to right but fore/aft as well and if the flexibility wasn’t there to support the position, it would be game over and I would fall into the brisk water, which wasn’t such a bad thing either as I could feel the saline water acting like a neti-pot for clearing out my congested sinuses.
Then I stood up on the board to do some sun salutations and I scared off all the birds around me! Oops. Didn’t realize that was going to happen. I guess I am near the top of the food chain, even in the ocean. But I was astonished how these birds can literally fly from anywhere to anywhere… while we get stuck in our own ways and I was reminded this quote:
I couldn’t do any split leg or high-lunge type poses (crescent pose, warrior 2, triangle, etc) … I didn’t even try because I knew I would just fall. That’s how humbling it all felt.
Oh but going into a deep squat while holding the paddle over the head like a barbell to help maintain thoracic extension was incredible. I also loved standing with the paddle behind me and going into a forward fold with the paddle going over my head. That was the money. And hamstring stretches were to die for. Trying to do standing splits from a forward fold was impossible for some reason. Then I realized I could do 3-legged downward dog (it was also difficult) and slowly bring my hands toward my feet to transition into standing splits, but half way there I realized I couldn’t go any further unless I wanted to fall. It’s strange because the board is almost frictionless over the water and it was like the ground was always ready to slip out from under you.
Eventually I started paddling back toward the shore and started trying to increase my efficiency by treating it as an anti-rotation core exercise where I would prevent my body from twisting as I swooped the paddle through the water.
And as I was looking through the surface… I realized that I could see the very deep ocean floor. I was suddenly overwhelmed and I felt great fear for some reason when I noticed how much empty space there really was below me. (It reminded me of the subreddit /r/thedepthsbelow.)
I had a lot of time to think about how blessed I was. And I had a realization that I felt guilty for having access to a good life but I would sabotage myself… or not utilize everything at my disposal because somehow I felt like I didn’t deserve it. For all these years, I was somewhat making things harder for myself. And at that moment I felt great appreciation for my parents and my mother specifically because my mother is really who I am. My mother is who raised me the most and had given me the best advice throughout my life, which I was always reluctant to listen to from those teenage-angst years. (Funny enough, when she heard that I went SUP-ing in the ocean by myself, she spit out 1001 ways I could have died.)
Oh yea and when I was thinking of all this, it naturally reminded me of the stuff I said in my recent video about my self worth and saying how I should make more yoga videos and mentioning how vlogs that wouldn’t say anything of significance would often-times be very popular and to me that was bizarre but I was saying how maybe that’s because peoples personality was coming out. And the irony of producing those videos is that they’re the easiest videos to make, and here I was trying to bust my ass, trying to make the nicest videos ever. So I’m going to make more casual videos… try to anyway.
All in all…
As I approached the coast, I realized how blessed I was to be able to do this independently. To just go out here by myself and go in the ocean by myself. This was definitely one of the magical days of the year because of how much it made me think. Even though I had gone surfing over a dozen times this year and I would often see dolphins and seals … SUPing was different because I was able to do yoga on a much bigger board…. and there’s no phone, car keys… no people, no nothing.
Anyway, that’s it. More to come. Soon™
If you made it this far… thanks for reading. Please leave a comment below so that I know you exist!