Surfing Means Union Too

Dec 09, 2014

Gliding along a glassy face of flowing fluid, steady in the face of constant change, absorbed in the bliss of the moment, the art of surfing is a direct experience of union. Like the yogi the surfer is involved in a mode of connection to the formless beauty which gives rise to all phenomenon. Celebrating the limitless grace of mother nature the Goddess, all that is needed is to accept the bounty that comes from the interconnected elements of the Divine. Sunshine creates wind that blows across the water creating waves on a distant shore for the humbly waiting surfer to enjoy. The yogini becomes attuned to the ability of a simple smile to grow in energy as it is passed on from one to the other having far reaching effects that may shift the perspective of someone in need, far down the line. The South American shaman sees the butterfly fluttering its wings in the Andes and knows that it may cause a hurricane in the Indian ocean a month later.  This same hurricane creates waves for another yogi-surfer to ride in, so once again all energy comes full circle - all elements of this divine leela are interconnected.


As in life nothing in surfing or yoga is independent; we are all intimately connected to the heart of creation. In this collective dream we each have the capacity to wake up to the fact that we are the dreamer of the dream. Yoga and surfing are both mediums that naturally awaken this realization in its participants. The bhakti yogi chanting, singing and dancing reaches a point of ecstatic union with the Divine that may also be felt by the surfer floating off of the pitching lip of a wave: transcendent consciousness becomes the underlying state.


The Hawaiian creation of surfing was originally a pastime of the royalty, just as ancient yoga once was - in both cases, the evolution of the practice has now reached the masses. The roots of surfing as a spiritual practice are derived from the Hawaiian inception of the word ‘aloha.’  This word - which is loosely used for ‘hello,’ ‘goodbye,’ ‘love’ and meaning good vibes - in fact literally translates to the ‘breath of life.’ In ancient Hawaiian customs you place your forehead against the forehead of the person you are greeting and breathe together - the two becoming one. This merging is the common essence of surfing and yoga as well.


Yoga translates to union.  Surfing can be known in this way - as a union with the wave, the ocean and the moment which draws one into the transcendent state like bees to honey. We enter the place then, where any activity can be a vehicle for union - even dealing with shadows, challenges, and suffering - we perceive only the one undifferentiated reality taking form to play with and enjoy its own essence. What better form to realize the pureness in every emotion than the merging of the dual pursuits of yoga and surfing into the oneness of consciousness?!

Jed Pennell



Jed has chosen to follow his bliss as he walks on the path of the ancient medicine keepers and assist others as we transform into the love and light of the new age. Jed has been involved with SYI for many years and is a 1000-hour certified SYI facilitator. After finishing his NCAA wrestling career and graduating with his Masters of Science from Oregon State University Jed spent six years living off the grid while growing his family and teaching high school physical education on the Mendocino coast of northern California. Jed is a genuine friend, a knowledgeable teacher and a loving husband and father to his wife and two sons. He now spends his time as a full time yogi, father, surfer, gardener, and lover shining light and living in harmony at home in Southern Oregon and internationally.

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