SEEKING SANTOSHA: YOGA AND SURFING IN NICARAGUA.

I started surfing the summer of 1987. Since my first paddle out, surfing has never ceased to be a part of my life. Although at certain moments I was only surfing the waves in my mind. Ultimately I was still riding waves.

My initial connection to yoga came in the early 1990’s. When I was still in high school, I received my introduction to eastern philosophy and the Hare Krishna movement through the punk rock scene. Yoga, loosely defined, is a practice which connects the practitioner with the “higher-self”, universal intelligence, or “God” if you will. There are different paths or forms of yoga as defined in the Bhagavad-Gita, a great holy scripture from India which means “Song of God”. Bhakti Yoga, the path of yoga practiced by love and devotional service is what the Hare Krishna’s propagate. This was my starting point, the rest is history.

Through the world of Yoga I have met and maintained relationships with many amazing people. People that inspire and help initiate change in my life. I first started talking to Heidi Parker about two years ago when a friend and yogi told me of her retreat center in Nicaragua. Since then we have kept the lines of communication open, helping each other as we try to manifest our dreams of surfing, yoga and ultimate freedom.

I recently contacted Heidi to conduct an interview showing the connection between surfing and yoga, while also hoping to alert fellow yogis and surfers to her amazing retreat center “Seeking Santosha” in Nicaragua.

Read on for some really amazing insight into the world of yoga, surfing and dreaming with your eyes wide open.

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Zappo: Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?

Parker: I grew up in Montana with several pets, spending most of my childhood days exploring and connecting with nature. A total tomboy, destroying my dresses, playing in the dirt with the boys, riding bikes, dissecting minnows and frogs. Always eager to gather more scientific information. Going to church when (I was) told and I only went inside when I was hungry or it got dark. I could hear the concern in my parent’s voice as they yelled for me to come home. Loving my friends like the brothers and sisters I never had. Always looking forward to the next family camping trip to the lake, so my cousins and I could practice tricks on the water skis, knee boards or wake boards. Waiting patiently through a gloomy fall as my eyes would light up at the sight of first snowflakes with an eager anticipation to go up the mountains to ski, go sledding or snowmobiling.

Zappo: When did you start snowboarding? Tell me a bit about what snowboarding means to you?

Parker: Growing up in Montana I initially learned to ski but converted to snowboarding before I went away to University. After graduating I moved to Whistler, BC Canada where I enjoyed some of the best terrain in North America. This is the first year of my life I’ve lived without any snowboarding at all. I miss it a little but not like I would miss the beach, the ocean and surfing! It’s just not the same. A true surfer can only relate to these words.

Zappo: How did you get introduced to yoga? What is your formal training as an instructor?

Parker: I started doing yoga in Canada as a physical practice, but an internal transformation happened, an involution that could not be ignored. This feeling sent me seeking to learn more about myself and the history of meditation, pranayama (extension of breath) and yoga. On top of my 200YTT certification I have attended several workshops at the Yoga Journal Conferences in New York City and Whistler, BC to keep my knowledge and practice growing. My teachers and influences include: Julia McCabe, Shiva Rea, Sharon Gannon & David Life, Yogi Vishvketu (Vishva), Jason Crandell, Aadil Palkhivala, David Swenson, Desiree Rumbaugh. At the end of April I will start my Thai Massage Training, lazy man’s yoga!

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Zappo: What are some of your personal realizations based on your own yogic journey?

Parker: Yoga teachers get you to pose, but you pose for yourself, because no one else is watching in class, students are all focused on themselves. Yoga is hard. No one said it was going to be easy, life isn’t easy, surfing isn’t easy! Yoga is a lifestyle. But yoga helps to make life easier! Yoga is an internal practice to evolve the self and it is a tool to help control the mind, not just for the purpose of an hour in a studio, but so you can take this out and apply it in your life and the world. Yoga isn’t the answer, religion is not the answer, having a new love of your life isn’t the answer. Most people seem to seek the difficult answers to life through religion but I have accepted that it isn’t answers I’m searching for. Every answer I’m seeking can be found within, by listening to my own soul, intuition and heart. Imagine if your mind didn’t interfere. Santosha means contentment and that is the name of my business, Seeking Santosha. I strive to be content with what I have and not needing more, living in the moment with full appreciation. Staying authentic and speaking my truth allows me to stay peaceful in my heart. From just being and not from consuming or needing, I feel the most peace. Meditation has been the key to learning how to control the endless mind waves and chatter we so often have with ourselves and our own ego. Doing yoga asana (postures) makes me focus my mind and over time has given me more control, along with all the physical and energetic benefits that come along with the physical practice. Once I truly learned to accept and love myself I had more compassion for others, including myself.  Life is a never ending lesson and as each one passes I now ask myself, “What lesson does my soul need to learn from this experience?”

Zappo: When and why did you relocate to Nicaragua?

Parker: I initially came to Nicaragua to do my yoga teacher training in October of 2010 and basically I never left. One day in between learning to surf I stumbled upon a lot for sale in a small development just outside of San Juan del Sur. It was an opportunity to invest into a lifestyle, so I purchased the lot and had my home built. Things evolved from there. Manifesting your dreams and intentions through positive thinking is a powerful way to live and once you realize you are the creator of your life and its experiences, the author and the main character, you have the courage to do something you never thought possible. I’m not going to lie though, some days are harder than others and they are certainly surreal.  Driving an old Hilux Toyota truck in a mini skirt down a dusty dirt road is far from where I came. Oh. My. Goodness. I. Live. In. Nicaragua!

Zappo: Did you start surfing when you relocated to Nicaragua, or did you already have surfing experience?

Parker: I tried surfing once when I was going to University in Northern California but I didn’t have a good experience. Despite my apprehension, I tried again in Nicaragua. My connection to the ocean far exceeds my love for the mountains. My father drowned a few years ago and I feel an even greater connection to the ocean because I know his spirit travels there from time to time. He loved the water and water sports. I love meditating on my surfboard and sitting alone in the vast ocean as it reminds me of my connectedness to the oneness and to him. The ocean has taught me how to adapt to change quickly because surfing a beach break is never consistent and neither is life. Surfers have definitely won my respect, they are some of the toughest people on this planet. They paddle out, get wasted by rogue closeout sets, take a beating, fall down, get back up and go back for more with determination and a smile on their face. If you do this in life, you will always succeed. Out in the ocean you learn to let go. If you struggle and resist the flow of nature you get hurt. You have to be one with the ocean. There is nothing better than a day spent out in the lineup in a bikini surfing perfect waves with light off shore winds, connecting to mother nature. Don’t you agree?

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Zappo: I don’t know if I’d opt for a bikini as my choice gear for surfing but otherwise, I certainly agree. Surfing is the best way to spend your day, especially when sharing the experience with friends and people you love. That said, what part does surfing play in your life now? Do you see a connection between surfing and yoga? If so please elaborate.

Parker: I plan my life according to the tides. I try to do yoga each day before I surf, or stretch. Yoga is good for my surfing for several reasons including strength, flexibility, and evenness of mind when the bigger swell arrives.  I can’t imagine life far away from an ocean and waves again. Yoga is a lifestyle. Yoga is a mindful, spiritual, and soulful practice supporting all life and our planet to create a world free from destruction. We learn to control our thoughts so we can project positive energy into our truest highest potential. We need to learn to care for our environment.  Yoga and surfing are made for each other like salt and pepper, yin and yang.

Zappo: Many people from the Asbury Park area that enjoy yoga, surfing, and the beach lifestyle have been making trips down to Nicaragua. What does your location have to offer that would be unique to other possible locations in Nicaragua?

Parker: Cool, maybe I should divide my time between there and here! If you surf in cold water, you are a true die hard surfer! Impressive. I’m here living out my dreams, still dreaming with my eyes open to inspire others to live from their hearts. I’d love to share what I’ve created with other passionate like-minded people. It took a lot of courage to listen to the soft whispers of the universe and follow my heart, but when my father died suddenly at the age of 56 I realized that we really do not know when our expiration date is or how this current life will end. So I decided to find and trust my own precious voice. I have no choice but to be fearless.

Zappo: Describe your last surf session.

Parker: I’d prefer to tell you about the day I wanted to give up but I paddled out instead.  About a year ago I was about to retire from my non-existent pro-surfing career and put my surf board away for good, then I decided to paddle out one more time. As I waded into the ocean, shuffling my feet to stir up any sting rays that might be present. Thinking to myself. Why is surfing so dang hard?  Only taking a few steps I see a large leather-back sea turtle bobbing up and down, being brought closer and closer to the shore by each wave. I stopped and waited as it passed beside me, we made eye contact. This is a good sign! You see, life is like surfing. Just when you are about to give up- stop. Continue forward. Take a risk by stepping outside of your comfort zone because this momentum is where the magic happens. To ‘desire’ something is okay. I desire to be a good surfer. It is when we ‘need’ something, the behavior becomes unbalanced and unhealthy. Desire is like the tide, small and humble one moment, wild and turbulent the next. But water always goes where it wants to and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water flows and it is always, always authentic. Water does not resist. I keep shuffling and as soon as I’m waste deep I jump onto my board and the white wash washes over me, cleansing any negative thought I had about giving up surfing. The ocean is therapeutic. Water heals my soul. Water is not solid, it is not a wall that will stop you. Humans are made of half water. If we can’t go through an obstacle, don’t force it, go around it like water does. Flow with your own true nature that is inside of you. I start to paddle, practicing duck diving under the white wash moving forward with each stroke. As energy surges through the water I find the rhythm of the ocean, feeling strong, I paddle out past the last wave that breaks. Anxiety enters my heart, pulses through my veins, then I pause for a moment. I remember my father’s drowning and it is right here where I face fear. I catch my breath, staying connected to my breath. Yoga taught me that. As I meditate on my surf board for a moment the mist from the spin drift keeps my face moist. I find comfort in the beautiful rainbows that dance here. I look toward the horizon, seeking a perfect set. Patience is required when waiting to catch a wave, just as it is to find the perfect person to compliment your life. Even if you are not looking for romantic love, Seeking and waiting for that perfect wave is part of the rhythm of life. In order to discover your path you must make your passion your purpose. Learn to love the paddle. PADDLE. PADDLE. PADDLE. Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up on something you desire. We must pause in moments of difficulty because pleasure never lasts long enough. Enjoy what you are doing right now. RIGHT NOW. This moment, and if you don’t, change it. I’m glad I never gave up surfing, it has taught me some very valuable lessons that my soul needed to learn.

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Zappo: Any last words for the readers?

Parker: Yoga. Surfing. Both play for an audience of one. There is no yoga without the strength of mind required to show up for practice and the same goes for surfing. All you really need is your mat, a surf board and a willingness to try. To practice. We don’t do yoga, we practice yoga. We don’t just surf, we learn to surf and then we continue learning each day we paddle out.  Balance, patience, forgiveness and compassion for your own imperfections will make both easier. There is no yoga or surfing without the flexibility to respond gracefully to the demands of each and every passing moment or wave. Think positive thoughts, share love and then surf the waves of karma!

Join me in Nicaragua!

Heidi Parker of Seeking Santosha Nicaragua

Founder / Retreat Director / Dreamer

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

heidi@seekingsantoshanicaragua.com

 

Facebook Page for Casa Santosha

https://www.facebook.com/seekingsantosha

Business Facebook Page for inspiration and beautiful photography in Nicaragua

https://www.facebook.com/seekingsantosha

Website: www.seekingsantoshanicaragua.com

More photos, follow me on Instagram: SeekingSantosha

2 Responses to “SEEKING SANTOSHA: YOGA AND SURFING IN NICARAGUA.”

  1. erin says:

    I love this article! Shawn you rock and Heidi you’re an inspiration to living your dreams. I see a yoga/surf retreat in my future here!

    Namaste,
    Erin

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