Life As A Surfer
Rochelle Ballard: Surf Into Yoga
Yoga has long been considered an alternative to more traditional forms of exercise. Everyone from Madonna to former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield has told us the benefits of this Indian exercise routine. As more professional surfers adopt the practice it is becoming more relative to our lives. To help us reach some conclusions, professional surfer and yoga enthusiast Rochelle Ballard talked with us about her yoga experience.
Rochelle’s first introduction to yoga occurred at 19 years old when she saw her neighbor performing the exercises in her front yard. The neighbor taught the young surfer how to use her breath through her body to find clarity. She has since found it to be one of the best ways to find balance in her life.
“One of the best things about yoga is the awareness it brings and focus,” explains Ballard. “That helped my surfing a lot. Going into competition it’s so easy to melt into your jersey with nerves or get over stimulated. Once the adrenalin kicks in the nervous system is pumping. Yoga was the best way I found through my whole career to balance that.”
When asked about yoga’s effects on her competitive performance, Ballard provided some great insight into her contest mentality.
“Yoga helps you focus your energy and clear your mind. I think it helps with anxiety and overall well being. It affects your entire system. Before I go out there, I make sure I do yoga because it allows me to be aware of all things going on around me. No matter what happens we can stay calm and clear and keep your balance. It’s a choice of whether you give in to the energy around you or keep your focus and enjoy yourself. Wherever you direct your focus that is where it will go.”
Because yoga played such an important role during her competitive career, Ballard continues to incorporate yoga into her surfing life. Her commitment to a healthy body and mind incorporates a diet high in nutrition, an active lifestyle, and the continued practice of yoga. Finding the right balance in her life has played an instrumental role in her happiness and success.
“One of the best things about Yoga is it’s the one thing that fine tunes you,” says Ballard. “It brings balance to whatever it is you’re doing in your life. I run and swim and I love to ride my bike. I do cross training with core stabilization and yoga compliments it all.”
Ballard is often asked what types of yoga are best for surfing. She likes to answer this question by identifying exercises to do during your pre-surf routine and then your post-surf routine.
“There are so many different types of yoga that certain types will work better for the before and after effects. If you’re doing restorative and holding postures longer, really breathing into the muscles to where everything is slowing down, those are great after you surf. If you’re surfing afterward, then it’s more about breath awareness and more stimulating yoga.
“Yoga also helps to prevent injuries,” continues Ballard. “It lengthens your muscles. Surfing really is a compact sport, where everything is constantly contracting because you’re using it all the time. Yoga helps to unwind the tissue, really.”
In 2009, Ballard released her own introductory yoga DVD, Surf into Yoga. It features yoga sequences from beginner to intermediate, with Ballard guiding us along the way. The film also includes a surfing section showing why Ballard is considered one of the most influential female surfers of all time and one of the best barrel riders on the planet.
“I love doing film projects,” Ballard explains. “So I thought: ‘how fun would that be to create a yoga DVD and incorporate surfing and the synergy of it and express surfing in a different feel and category?’ Instead of going on a boat trip and having it all be a section of performance, you integrate the performance with something that really enhances what you do. It’s a wellness and finding that balance.”
Also featured in Surf into Yoga is Ballard's brother, Hatha yoga teacher Hoku Gordines doing specifics for shoulders and chi gong along with pro snowboarder (and co-producer) Chanelle Sladics, demonstrating her pre-snowboarding warm up routine. With the help of the filming/editing expertise of John Roderick & Neu Productions, they were able to create an intersting video.
Part of the inspiration behind the Surf into Yoga is Ballard’s desire to show us how quickly we can all feel better and more balanced.
“Fifteen minutes of yoga is better than no yoga. Often time people will talk about it but they won’t give their body or life the time to put into it. You can be at work and take 10-15 minutes out of the day for a session and feel so much better. I wanted to incorporate the music and beauty of Hawaii. I wanted to capture that and make people take that deep breath and say “That’s gorgeous!”. I want people living in the city and the valley, in their office or apartment to experience that beauty.”
Surf into Yoga is now available in stores. Visit www.SurfintoYoga.com for more information.