Mindfulness and Surfing - Reading between the waves.
Meet Georgia Fish - Aussie ocean enthusiast and yogi who connects her inner peace with the wild energy of the ocean through meditation and yoga practice.
We spoke with Georgia about her incredible career as a pro surfer, the role surfing has played in her life beyond the practice of getting out on her board, and how meditation and yoga made Georgia a stronger surfer.
Can you tell us a little bit about your career as a surfer? Career Highlights?
It was an incredible, fun, rollercoaster of a career. I started competing when I was around 12 years old in Grom Contests and loved the drive and purpose it gave me in my surfing. From around 17 years old, I started competing full time on the WSL global tour with a goal of qualifying for the top tier tour, the WCT. I competed full time and had a few points in my career where I was in the running to qualify but usually fell short in the last couple of contests of the season. That was the rollercoaster element of being a professional surfer, you can be so close and then the waves don't come your way on a day and suddenly you've lost that momentum to the top.
It's funny, when I think of career highlights I don't really look at my results anymore, it's more so what I accomplished personally and professionally. I dedicated my whole life to being the best and committed to an extensive amount of training physically and psychologically. It was an education in itself and I'm really proud of how much heart, mind and body dedication I applied.
What role has surfing played in your life?
From a career path to a form of meditation, surfing has so many layers in the role that it plays in my life. It's really evolved for me from the beginning. When I first started it was this exciting, fun, challenging new experience that I got to share with my friends and family. My passion for the ocean and how I felt in it really was established at this time. It then developed into a purposeful career path which developed me and shaped me in so many ways but definitely at a slight sacrifice of the passion for the ocean and surfing. Then letting go of my surfing career and transitioning into a new career path I suddenly found that same ecstatic, joyful and rejuvenating experience that I felt when I was a child before the contests came into my path. Now it exists as this meditative, fun and comforting place and practice that I feel so extremely grateful to have.
Can you tell us about your introduction to mindfulness and yoga?
I have my Mum to thank for my introduction to mindfulness and yoga. Growing up I had waves of anxiety and depression and my Mum would gently suggest yoga, meditation and essential oils to support me through the consumption of what I was feeling. She brought home these DVD's one day called "Yoga for surfers" and asked if I'd like to join her in watching and practicing one. For me at that point, the benefits of physical practice for my surfing was what motivated me to practice these DVD's daily, however, the anxiety and depression naturally started to lift and I found it really useful to practice when I was feeling really down. Once I had that realisation of how it was impacting me, I started going deeper into meditation, mindfulness and even completely changed my nutrition in honour of my mind and body.
How did the techniques you cultivated through your yoga and meditation practice make you a stronger surfer?
When I was competing, meditation was such a huge tool for me to keep my energy levels and nerves at an optimal place. Most surfers before they compete will have headphones on with loud, uplifting beats on to amp them up. Not me, I would be listening to deepak chopra meditations on my ipod, in a place as far removed from the crowds and competitors as possible. Meditation really centred me, reminded me to stay positive, focused and most importantly present with gratitude. I could really go on about this for a while, however to simplify, yoga and meditation build strength and confidence in my surfing, agility and flexibility in my body and mind as well as connecting to that flow state with a deep, nourishing breath. All of this combines to really support me in the ocean.
Any advice to overcome setbacks on your board?
Practice yoga, pranayama (breath work) and meditation. Like I mentioned they will keep your body and mind strong, confident, agile and flexible. If you're wanting to build your confidence on bigger waves, learn breathing techniques to support your body and confidence.
How did you balance your career as a pro-surfer and yoga teacher?
I actually didn't start teaching until after I had finished competing. I found myself in quite a challenging and purposeless space after I finished competing and then yoga kept knocking on the door so I did my teacher training and started teaching immediately after that. And now my life is abundant in purpose again and it feels bloody great. It was a challenging yet highly expansive transition.
What can we expect from your classes at Hot Hut on the Peninsula – do you have a ‘signature teaching’ style?
At Hot Hut I'm usually teaching the Mellow Flow. So expect yummy, fluid, intuitive movement and lots of pranayama. I am trained in vinyasa but recently did a workshop which was rooted in somatic movement. This triggered quite a profound shift in my teaching style and I'm really enjoying integrating these new learnings into my teaching. Hot hut is a beautiful studio, it’s an incredible nurturing space surrounded by nature and I'm grateful to teach there weekly.
The ocean feels like the perfect symbol for the ebb and flow of life. What does surfing mean to you beyond the practice of getting out on your board and riding the waves?
Again, I could really go on about this for a while because there is SO many layers of what surfing is to me beyond its physicality. Being in the ocean is my happy place but also a space and place I feel I can really just be. Whatever is arising, whether I'm happy and energised or sad and depleted, I feel extremely held and supported by the ocean and it always has this incredibly clearing and calming impact on my body and mind. It's a place I can be, breathe and experience myself surrendering to nature and being challenged on some days yet comfortable and safe on other days. I feel a deep sense of peace and quiet in my mind out there and it feels so good to be disconnected from the world for just a moment. On top of that it’s just so fun and playful, for sure my spirit animal is a dolphin.
What advice would you give for aspiring surfers?
Be consistent. Get into the ocean as much as you can whether you're surfing or swimming or simply observing it from the shore. Surf in as many different conditions as you can and take time to learn more about the ocean. The better you get to know the ocean, the safer you'll be when you're in there and the more fun and joy it will bring you.
Lastly – what is your go-to surf kit and why?
I'm a onesie or a high waisted kini type of gal. The new lulu paddlesuit is for sure my new favourite onesie because of its comfort and colour. I also have a very loved and worn two piece that are a high rise with a cheeky bum and a fuss free top that keep the gals in place when in mama ocean.
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