The Art of Being Zero: Spirituality of Yoga and Surfing Bali is a mysterious island. You will learn and grow if you keep your mind open. Yoga specialist, Luisa Turnip, taught me more about surfing and yoga.
The Art of Being “Zero”
I had negative expectations when told that I was going to work at Bali this summer. I always thought the island was an overcrowd, touristy place, meant for party animals and people who love the book, “Eat, Pray, Love.” It was not a destination I wanted to travel. However, things just flowed in the direction of me visiting the island.
When I landed at Kuta, the most popular town in Bali, my expectation proved me right. For the first two weeks, Kuta was crazy on land and in the water. There were overly crowded surfing lineups. Most surfers were never taught how to get over white water, and had no knowledge of water safety. There were fist-pumping parties with hookers and lookers night after night. The craziness of the town did not fit into my search for good waves, spirituality, and Indonesian culture.
On the third week of vacation, right when I was about to give up on Bali, I moved to Uluwatu. This was my last attempt at peacefulness in the midst of Bali’s disarray. Uluwatu is less developed and populated by hardcore surfers. Uluwatu has amazing waves that allow you to glide into perfect tubes. These waves require patience, skill and bravery. The water is shallow, and the reef is deadly. It is crowded with professional surfers. I patiently learned how to overcome each problem. I finally got familiar with the local breaks, cultural and people. My idea of spirituality emerged. However, something was still missing.
Then, I met Luisa Turnip, a beautiful and strong Indonesian yoga teacher. She is not apologetic about her success as a yoga teacher, entrepreneur, and Asian female surfer at Uluwatu, Bali.
Lisa is a yoga specialist, surfer, and own her own business. She provides services for foreigners, or whoever needs help, while they live in Bali. Luisa has been doing yoga since she was 15 years old. This is common.
“Everyone does yoga in Indonesia. We just don’t call it yoga. It is the traditional Raja yoga,” Raja yoga is more about breathing and becoming one with your breath, Luisa explained.
At first, she and her friends formed a community to lead yoga classes on rotation. They would provide this service for free. Then, more and more requests came from the public. But, Lusia still maintained the free classes.
One day, she got injured and could not surf. She took this as a sign that she should do a proper yoga teacher training. She wanted to learn more about the human body.
Since then, her yoga career has blossomed. Most of the yoga teachers from Bali are foreigners. They teach in English. Her ability to communicate in Indonesian has opened a large door for her in her own country.
So, despite her believe that yoga should not be used for material gain, she was forced to recognize yoga as a business. It was taking more of her time and energy than her original child development career.
Not only does she hosts spiritual retreats with tourists, she is also a front-runner for introducing the more technical physical techniques in yoga that are popular in the western world. She introduces them in Indonesian on Youtube and Television.
Working with foreigners opened her outlook on teaching and business. Luisa continued to maintain her believe in yoga as a spiritual and community practice by doing the free youtube videos for Indonesian, but she injects her business value by partnering up with television networks, and people, who have the means to contribute to her teaching.
Surprisingly, she has only been surfing for a short time. She decided that she wanted to learn how to surf and make her life about surfing everyday. Since then, she has been a graceful dancer on the water and has competed regionally in Bali.
Many of us feel that surfing is a spiritual practice, as we mediate and become one with the ocean. However, this is not what Luisa believes.
“Surfing is a very aggressive activity, unlike yoga,” says Luisa.
I was shocked when I heard this because I see surfing and yoga as both very spiritual.
Luisa explained that, for her, spirituality means peace. She believes that spirituality is a tranquil space with fluidity. She calls it ‘being zero:’ It is about everything in life being in a state of balance. She also believes that yoga and mediation helps us to get to and stay in that balanced place. Surfing, on the other hand, is an act of releasing hormones. Like most sports, which are the opposite of ‘being zero,’ it empties out our adrenaline. Luisa feels that surfing is often a place of relaxation because intense physical exercise tends to make us feel calm.
For me, it is that calming feeling, after the extreme mental and physical depletion I get from surfing, that puts me into this meditative state of spirituality. Similar to mountain climbing and other nature related extreme activities, the ocean makes me feel small and that smallness diminishes my problems.
To Luisa, the aggressive nature of surfing: fighting for waves in the crowd, dropping into big waves, and every other little emotions that is evoked by the sport, is not true spirituality.
So, Luisa separated her surfing life and yoga teaching because she recognized these beliefs are her reality. She stresses that it is not wrong to have desire. It is not wrong that we want different things in life: competitive or not. At the end of the day, we all look for that state of balance after surfing. Whatever you call it, spirituality or not, it is a state of ‘Being Zero.”
Without aggression, one might never get a wave in an ultra crowded break like Uluwatu. Without desire, one might never want to commit to catching a wave. Without ego, one might never be able to find the best wave.
Not everything needs to be spiritual, at least this is what Luisa tries to explain. We will always have ego, and that ego can create a lust for living.
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