yoga on beach

Yogasurf is my summer staple. Before I led this retreat, I was a guest. I had been interested in surfing for a while – I watched surf movies, read magazines and books, and dreamt about what it might feel like to stand on a board with the wave moving beneath my feet. In my dream, the experience is always clean and fluid, my body flowing with the ocean waves, catching the sweetest ride where nothing exists outside of that moment – Peace and contentment.

I am intrigued and intimidated by surf culture. I stand sideways on a snowboard and occasionally, a board with wheels. I knew I had to find a way to try surfing where I felt comfortable, safe, and supported as a beginner. That’s how I found Emily Garrett’s Yogasurf retreat.

My first night, I showed up after dinner and after dark. Emily had saved me a big plate of tasty food and one of her assistants helped me set up my tent in the dark, under a light rain. I had forgotten my flashlight. I was nervous to show up to a yoga retreat on my own, without knowing anybody but the teacher. We sat by a bonfire sharing our fears and excitement around learning to surf. By the end of my first evening, I started to feel comfortable.

Yoga at dawn on the beach is indescribably beautiful. I look forward to it every year. It doesn’t matter if the sky is grey or the sun is shining, Ogunquit beach is filled with quiet energy. My heart longs to hear the ocean waves gently breaking while I practice Surya Namaskara. My body is invigorated by the dank sea air. I even miss the seagulls squawking as I write this! Practice on the beach strips away the walls, ceilings, and structure around us Western yogis. Stepping out of the studio and connecting with the natural world. Even as the teacher now, I find myself experiencing deeper connectivity to everything within and around me.

And the food! I always enjoy a delicious meal but during Yogasurf we work hard physically so everything tastes extra divine! I strive to offer local ingredients where I can and just about everything is home-cooked. My first time at Yogasurf, Emily had made pesto with basil grown in Vermont and all our tomatoes were from a local farm. The following years, I was one of Emily’s main assistants and had the honor of preparing food for all of our retreat guests. Last year all of our vegetables were from Pete’s Greens, the apples from a local Maine orchard, honey from a Yogasurf guest who is a beekeeper, and wood fired bagels from another guest. A planned version of “stone soup” heals the soul. If you grow, cultivate, or create, let me know and I may include you in this year’s Yogasurf.

I didn’t expect a small yoga retreat in Maine to impact me as it has. I religiously assisted Emily until she decided to pass on the Yogasurf torch to me. During my years as an assistant, I met many wonderful people who I took daytrips with to Maine to continue learning to surf. I flew to Costa Rica with Yogasurf friends to practice yoga and delve deeper into surf culture while exploring the yoga mecca of Central America. I surfed powder in the depths of many Vermont winters with my fellow Yogasurf tribe! The community within Yogasurf is sweet and subtly powerful. We are yogis, explorers, and adventurers.

I facilitate an easy-going, fun, and supportive retreat for people to grow and connect within. My experiences at Yogasurf ground me and provide me clarity every year. I encourage you to join me this September!

by Gaby Goldberg

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