Tuesday, May 19, 2009

back arched, feet together

Feet together, knees slightly bent so that my thighs rest flatly on the deck, back arched up into a cobra position, shoulders and neck relaxed. With fingers held closely together I stroke deeply with one arm, feeling the pull from the top of the stroke through the strongest part of the stroke in the middle and then exiting cleanly as the other arm begins the stroke. This steady measured and intentional form and rhythm are like a mantra.


What is surfing with out the paddle? How does my surfing improve without the perfectly balanced paddle form? Proper form over time makes way for strength and endurance. After not having surfed regularly for six years I told myself after the first week back that I would LOVE THE PADDLE. Slowly over three years I have improved. For fitness is cumulative and each session is adding up to where I have achieved some fitness and my thoughts can now focus on improving form. It’s hard to say what aspect of surfing is the most important to me. Undoubtedly though progression is at the top of my list and the better and stronger I am at paddling the better I surf.

The human mind and body can work well together when that is the intention. Ultra marathoner Dear Karnazes once ran over 250 miles without stopping. That’s the distance of more than 10 marathons. How did he achieve such a feat? He did it by taking one step at a time with a mindful intention to reach his goal.

Back arched, feet together, shoulders and neck relaxed. Back arched feet together, stroke and pop up. Down the line. Speed. Kick out. Back arched, shoulders and neck relaxed and one arm follows the other. Stronger each time out. Progressing steadily over time.


  1. "one step at a time with a mindful intention to reach his goal" is my new mantra. Thanks

  2. I enjoyed reading this. Some years ago another girl in the water told me her mantra in the water is a Beastie Boys lyric: "Slow and low that is the tempo".

  3. Top stuff, as always, Ras. Would that paddle endurance were truly cumulative. I have too many experiences of that "first" paddle out after a lay-off being an uncomfortable, even painful reminder that that work need be followed by more work soon after lest the bennies of the first work fade.

    Even so, Prana and Jamie both get it, acknowledging, as I have learned. You have to have an approach that first time out after a layoff. The mindful, purpose of repeated meaningful strokes will get you there. And having a meter in mind, like the beat provided by a favored song running repeatedly through your head, though sometimes maddening, it a definite help.

    Jamie, always cracking me up: My mantra song was always "No Sleep 'til Brooklyn" from the same Beasties album!



  4. i breathe every third stroke when swimming...and find myself copying that rhythm on a long paddle. (i will actually rest my forehead on my board and rotate to each side as if I'm taking a breath) weird...i know....but works for me. ;-)