Bodhi Awaken – a Two Week Bodysurfing and Surfing Retreat

Amber Hagberg - Live Your Yoga Costa Rica
Live Your Yoga Mentorship Program
October 9, 2019

Bodhi Surf and Yoga’s Awaken Retreat
Select Dates in 2020

Bodhi Surf and Yoga in Playa Bahia, Uvita, is one of a kind. It is known for its commitment to the community and offering guests opportunities to immerse themselves in the local culture. As a Benefit Corporation and 1% for the Planet member, it has sustainability in its core principles. And the waves close by are as perfect as it gets for learning to surf. Playa Chaman is within the Costa Ballena National Marine Park and is famous for whale sightings at sea, and monkeys, sloths, and scarlet macaws in the beachfront canopy. 

So I was not too surprised when I found out that they wanted to offer a two week long – Awaken Retreat – that focused not only on surfing, but bodysurfing. Bodysurfing is a complete connection to the ocean and its waves, you are not on a board, but use your body to ride the surf, and the only equipment are fins and a hand-plane for more speed. And Bodhi is all about connecting with the planet and its elements. 

To find out more about the bodysurfing side of the retreat, I spoke with the two main instructors, Spencer Dunlap and Hannah Walsh. I wanted to learn more about their passion for the sport, what advice they would share with those who have never tried it, and what Bodhi Surf and Yoga will be teaching during Bodhi Awaken. Here are their answers.

Spencer Dunlap - Bodhi Surf and Yoga Uvita

Why did you start bodysurfing?

Hannah: My passion for bodysurfing started not in the ocean, but in a pool. I spent ten years as a competitive swimmer before moving to Costa Rica. Those years in the pool gave me the foundation I needed for bodysurfing, which I learned as a lifeguard on the Atlantic coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Bodysurfing is used by lifeguards primarily as a safety skill, but also as a fun and simple way to catch waves. It was the lifeguarding community that really sparked my passion for wave sliding. 

Spencer: I started bodysurfing religiously as a student at the University of San Diego. I would wake up at the crack of dawn, bike down to the beach with a wetsuit and swim fins, and bodysurf for an hour or two before class. Bodysurfing became my morning ritual, as it would always put me in a good mood and set the tone for the rest of the day.

Why should a surfer learn to bodysurf?

Prior to the invention of the surf leash in the 1970s, anyone who surfed—by way of necessity—also knew how to bodysurf, and for many a skilled waterperson, the two methods of wave-riding went hand in hand. Not only is bodysurfing an essential safety skill that will get you from point A to point B to retrieve a lost board, but it offers the surfer a more intimate and in-depth understanding of the ocean. Bodysurfing makes you a stronger swimmer, a better breath-holder, and has the power to deepen your connection with the wave.

How can bodysurfing help someone who is afraid of swimming in the ocean?

Bodysurfing is a great way to gain more confidence in the ocean and develop a better understanding of wave mechanics. Bodysurfing teaches you how to observe waves, how to dive beneath them, how to catch them, how to move around other surfers in the lineup, and how to identify rip currents and potential hazards. The ocean may seem chaotic and scary at the surface, but once you dive beneath the waves you learn that the ocean is quiet and calm at its depths.

Bodysurfing instructors - Bodhi Surf and Yoga Uvita

What equipment do you need to bodysurf well and what do you look for in quality gear?

One of the best things about bodysurfing is that it requires very few pieces of equipment. Other than wearing a bathing suit that creates minimal drag, a good pair of swim fins is the only piece of equipment a bodysurfer really needs. 

When looking for a pair of swim fins, it is important to try them on first to make sure they are comfortable. Some bodysurfers like stiff fins with a big blade that will generate a lot of kicking power, while others prefer a lighter fin with a more comfortable shoe pocket. The majority of lifeguards (many of whom are also bodysurfers) wear swim fins made by DaFin, a company based out of Hawaii. 

What is unique about the Bodhi Awaken retreat?

Starting this March, our new retreat offering is called Bodhi Awaken, a two-week camp that will include a “first of its kind” week-long course on bodysurfing. The reason for adding the bodysurfing portion to our standard Bodhi Sessions surf and yoga camp is to familiarize students with the ocean in the most simple and straightforward way possible—that is, without a surfboard—before progressing to board-surfing during week two. At present, no other retreat like this exists in the world.

What about Bodhi makes it special? 

Here at Bodhi Surf + Yoga, we offer a different kind of vacation than is considered typical: one that promotes responsible tourism, embraces the concept of community, and brings guests closer to nature. Located within walking distance from the pristine Marino Ballena National Park, Bodhi utilizes surfing, yoga, nature immersion, and community engagement to facilitate memorable learning experiences with the intention of bolstering individual, long-term, pro-environmental action among guests.

Not only are we the first surf and yoga camp in the world to offer bodysurfing lessons, but we are also the first to become B Corp Certified for having met “rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.” Bodhi Surf + Yoga provides the ideal environment for you to reconnect with nature and get in tune with your true self. 

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So if you are ready for a new skill to become a complete waterman or waterwoman, want to really connect with the ocean in a tropical rainforest setting, and be a part of a sustainable community, please contact us to reserve your space or use the form below.

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