I am on the tail end of another journey through Nosara Costa Rica. This week’s blog is a sample chapter from my book with a story that originated here in 2017.
I would appreciate if you would consider buying my book or gifting to a friend.
SURFING TO RESTORATIVE YOGA
When in Montezuma in May of 2016, I took surfing lessons from Ricardo a few times per week. By the end of the trip, I was almost a novice, able to stand up on medium-sized waves and ride straight into the shore. No tricks or turns—and with a big emphasis on the word “novice.”
On my fifth day in Nosara, I rented a board and set out to advance my surfing skills. Without the slightest idea of where to begin, I cruised the beach with board in hand and looked for instructors teaching beginners. I found my tribe and entered the ocean to master surfing.
I was able to stand about one out of four attempts. After an hour of practice, fatigue set in, and I took a break on the shore. I almost threw in the towel for the day but decided to go back for just a bit more. When I was finally ready to head for shore, two freakish back-to-back waves caught my board. I saw stars as the long board crashed into my head with ridiculous force. For a split second, I thought I had met my end, but I regained my balance. Happy to be alive, I decided to ride a small wave back to the shore. When I lifted my arm to paddle, there was a creepy feeling in my left shoulder, and my upper arm muscle collapsed like a noodle. I knew then that something very bad had happened and that it was likely to change the rest of the month. I left the accident in the water and emerged wondering how it would alter my path.
After a 48-hour love affair with an ice pack, things were not getting better. A Facebook friend introduced me to Cy, a local lady with some mad chiropractic skills. She came to my casita for some adjustments and an hour of massage. She was able to manually move my arm without making me cry. A few days later, another friend introduced me to an experienced physical therapist named Isis. For the remainder of the month, I saw her a few times a week. I was optimistic that a shoulder tendon was simply inflamed, and normal movement would return with rest and time.
After my surfing accident, I tried a yin class at Bodhi but found the movement too intense for my injured shoulder. I scanned the schedules and discovered something called “restorative yoga.” At first, I mistakenly thought this name was just a crafty marketing term for another yin class, but this new class far exceeded my expectations.
Restorative yoga is a practice that soothes the body and soul by seducing the nervous system into remission. The poses are all done on the floor and usually include pillows and bolsters to support the body. By removing physical stress, mental stress recedes into a dormant state. About every five to ten minutes, the instructor recommends a new position. During the classes, the teachers tend to tell calming stories that encourage deep meditative states.
I spent the entire month enjoying this new form of yoga. One of my favorite teachers, Jane, repeated an invitation I had never heard before. She would say, “Drop in and get to know yourself.”
This new endeavor allowed me to learn more about the meditative aspects of yoga and put me in touch with an older group of friends I never would have met in the more active classes.
I came home in June, still in pain, and decided to visit a local shoulder doctor to properly diagnose my problem. I called three places and booked an appointment with the one who could see me the soonest. The meeting with a physician’s assistant led me to a pinging tube for an MRI. The nurse said, “You are really lucky to have such a great doctor.” I replied, “I didn’t know I had a doctor. What’s my doctor’s name?” That is how I met Dr. Chopp. He advised me to cancel all travel plans for the rest of the year.
Shoulder surgery is not pleasant. I began the recovery process with sleepless nights and bi-weekly physical therapy appointments. Three times a day for over three months, I did different sets of exercises to improve my range of motion. Progress was so slow. In September, they gave me the OK to do some light resistance work with weights. Prior to that time, I was restricted to no more than a coffee cup as a bicep curl.
In late October, during a routine follow-up with Dr. Chopp, he said, “Kurt, you are doing well. I may be able to turn you loose on your bike in a few weeks.” Quite pleased, I asked about yoga and he said, “Well, maybe in early November.”
With a smile, I pressed on: “Would that include going to Rishikesh, India, for a month-long, 200-hour, yoga/meditation teacher training with my all-time favorite Indian yogi?”
Shaking his head, he answered, “I have a feeling you are not kidding. Please do not be a jackass. Enjoy India!”
That is how I ended up at Swasti Yoga on the banks of Mother Ganga training to be a yoga teacher with my dear guru, Surinder Singh.