Surfing is a highly engaging water sport. While out in the water, you’ve got to give it your complete focus and concentration, no matter how experienced you are. There cannot be anything else on your mind.
Did you know? The sport was invented by the people of Hawaii. People contesting to become the rulers of Hawaiian tribes competed based on their surfing skills! The sport is still an integral part of the Hawaiian culture. And to a lot of people, surfing is a religion.
It is intense, tiring and rewarding. Although it’s a relatively challenging sport to pick up, the physical and mental health benefits of surfing are well worth it.
While surfing, a large of the time is spent paddling, on your board, to ‘catch a wave’. Beginners find it pretty challenging to perfect this. With practice, the time you spend paddling trying to catch a wave reduces, but you still have to paddle every time.
Samai De Kallialay, of Kallialay Surf School in Pondicherry, says, “Surfing is a great physical activity, as it works most of your muscles (even some that you didn’t know existed). As for the mental part, it’s amazing as it’s so different from anything else. You have to disconnect your brain and go by the feeling. Great stress-reliever too.”
He also talks about the benefits he felt from picking up the sport. “I personally lost 27 kg in 1 year, just by surfing. No diet or gym or anything else!”
Guaranteed, in about 10 minutes, you’ll be panting and sweating soon enough.
All that paddling is not just cardio. When you’re out paddling for hours, your arms are going to feel that burn. And if it’s your first time, you’re going to lose all sensation from the regions.
Do it for a few days and you’ll get several ‘Have you been working out?’ come your way.
Core, back and leg strength
After you catch a wave and manage to stand on the board, you’ll need to stay balanced. The key to this is a strong core.
Shaina Patel, an economic analyst working in Mumbai, learnt surfing at Shaka Surf Camp in Udupi. She had something to say about the balancing bit-
“Stabilizing yourself is really hard, but it was an amazing feeling. You can feel the waves hitting you and moving under your feet. After these sessions, you feel super hungry. I would sleep like a baby.
The next day, my abs hurt even as I sneezed or coughed man! But I really felt like I had had an intense workout, I felt much stronger.”
Once you get past the basic moves, the advanced levels really take it out of your core and your legs.
Regular exercise is known to be a stress reliever. This is because your brain produces endorphins that regulate pain and emotions.
A satisfying surf session mimics this. There is a rush of endorphins after a challenging few hours, that surfers call the ‘stoke’. This is a natural high, instantly lifting your mood, relieving your stress and also improving your sleep.
The sport is one of the best teachers of ‘living in the moment. Much like breathing, you cannot get back a wave that’s gone, and neither can you change anything about a future wave. You simply have to focus on what’s in front of you. When you accept how huge and beyond your control the ocean is, it is a humbling experience.
Chinmay Patkar, a Mumbai-based Musician, spoke about his recent week-long surf vacation in Kerala:
“Just imagine the waves crashing against a few already etched rocks, -behind you faint noises from a busy beach people having fun, enjoying a meal a beer and ahead of you there is a crystal clear blue wave about let’s say 7 feet tall and there’s the sunset on the horizon.
It induces peace. And as a sport is super versatile. It’s just you with a surfboard, in the sea. There is literally nothing else!
Mentally, it makes a whole world for you on the vast expanse of the sea, which is fascinating and mesmerizing. Physically, if you are on a week-long vacation and you are surfing you will never gain vacation weight!”
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