Breathing techniques, to power you through the biggest wave set...
When rocking up to my local, I often sit back and check out the wave pattern, size of the waves and where are the rips before pulling the board out from the car. All excited that yes it is a go-go and it is under my wave limit of 1 metre lol (I am a novice of surfing after 15 years) I paddle out the back.
With pro surfer looking people around me and learner driver on my forehead I begin to feel a little nervous. But this nervousness is short-lived because out of nowhere the biggest set comes rolling in! from zero to hero with the hero being way past my comfort zone. I feel my heart start to beat rapidly and the people around me snaking and fully focused on the wave and me fully focused on getting out of there.
Now stop! breathe and shut up with that self-talk!
In situations of stress, we can either
- Change your situation
- You can change yourself to the situation
- You can leave your situation
Number one is changing your situation means paddling out further so the largest wave which is generally the middle wave. Paddle out to get out of the impact zone as out the back will just be an elevator ride up and over the wave which is actually quite fun.
Now let's look at number two you can change yourself to the situation
The first thing to do when you feel the heart start-up and anxiety or stress or both rise up is to start breathing deeply, slow the breath. The Navy Seals do this amazing technique when in times of stress which is the 4-second breath.
Take a deep breath in and wait for 4 seconds and then breath out deeply and wait four seconds and repeat. This is the quickest way to move the body from sympathetic stress mode into the parasympathetic relax mode.
Then start self-talking in a positive way 'this is great I love big waves' 'I love it out the back here' 'I can do this and catch an amazing wave' 'up like an elevator and woosh down the other side love it' if you find yourself in the impact zone I generally use the cartoon technique.
This cartoon technique is my own design which I have used for many years and when in any stressful situation in life I place myself as a cartoon character in my mind in a cartoon world. This I find relaxes me, makes me laugh and makes the situation ridiculous. So for a big wave set that you feel you are going to get hammered, I would pretend I am a dolphin who is loving going through the waves and mingling with the surfers.
I do have a crazy wild imagination so the above may not work for everyone.
Wave generally come in sets of 5 to 10 with an average of 7. The middle wave will be the biggest. So remember that there will be a lull.
Another technique to calm the mind and therefore the body is an energy technique which you would have seen before. This technique is to move your hand over the top of your head from front to back this calms the nervous system by combining the energy of the left and right sides of the body, you will often see people doing this when they are stressed. Remember we are all energy beings and a wave is energy being too.
The third one is you can leave your situation. Checking out what others pro surfer types are doing around you can be a good idea. So if you think early on like on wave one that this is too big for you then catching or belly surfing in on the smaller first or second wave is the way out of this situation.
But remember experience is key to progression (I do have to remember that!) and sometimes actually changing the situation by paddling further out and then changing yourself to the situation moves you out of danger of the washing machine impact zone and will progress you further in your surfing journey.
The key through to anything in life including surfing is to breathe and stop with the negative self-talk. Because you can do this! check out Deepak Chopra as this may give you an interesting new perception of the mind, conscious and how to change your perception which may improve your surfing. Enjoy :)