Yoga for Surfers, an interview with Bellatrix van Wingerden
Yoga For Surfers
Bellatrix van Wingerden, or Bella, has been a friend of the Braddocks for many years, ever since she first came on a windsurfing holiday to Lanzarote. An experienced and talented yoga teacher, Bella published her first book this year, Yoga for Surfers, combining her two passions. We asked her what inspired her and why the two things go hand in hand.
Why yoga and surfing?
I first started practising yoga when I was 19 and always felt stronger and better after classes. I signed up for teacher training over 20 years ago and have been teaching ever since.
My first love was the sea. I grew up in and on the water, my dad was a captain, and he built a sailing boat that we spent every holiday on. I was an avid swimmer and canoeist and became the first female commander in the Ouddorp lifesaving rescue brigade. I learnt to windsurf when I turned 30, and I quickly realised that the strength I’d built up from my years of yoga helped enormously. I started surfing too so that I could get out on the water even when there was no wind.
Then a friend moved to Australia and told me that it’s common there for surfers to practice yoga, and I began to think about combining the two in my teaching. There’s a big surf community where I live in Ouddorp (in The Netherlands), and I started running classes specifically for surfers.
How does yoga help with surfing?
The benefits can vary slightly depending on whether you’re a man or a woman. For women, yoga helps build core and muscle strength. Men tend to benefit from the extra flexibility that yoga gives them. That’s why I run separate yoga for surfers’ classes for men and women. In the book, I don’t separate by gender, you can feel for yourself if you need more strength or flexibility.
What inspired you to write the book?
I had already been writing information down for my students for a number of years so that they could understand the background to poses and breathwork. So, I had lots of material.
I spotted a flyer for a writing course, and I thought, let’s give it a go. As it turned out, I was the only person who booked onto the course, but the instructor decided to run it anyway. We clicked immediately (her husband was a surfer). The sessions were over a few days in a hotel, and I stayed up every night writing. I made huge strides and with her guidance was able to give my writing structure, chapters etc.
It was at that point that I knew I could do it, and I decided to self-publish a book.
How long did it take?
It took two years from start to finish. I had a lot of text already on my laptop from the last decade. But this had to be ordered and edited and adapted for a wider audience. I had the first 80 per cent completed relatively quickly but then had to make a deal with myself that I would write something every day to finish the book.
I sketched out 22 yoga sequences specifically geared at surfers, windsurfers, kiters, wingfoilers and SUP-pers. Then booked a professional photographer for three days to shoot me in the yoga poses, all in precise detail.
The book was published in January 2022. It’s in Dutch but I plan to write an E-Book soon that will be available in English too.
Read more about Bella and buy a copy of the book here. Check out the online ‘pro package’ and for students who live in The Netherlands join a Yoga for Surfers class or a private Yoga Therapy session.