Tag Archives: surf

Final days in Indonesia

The end of my travels are approaching. I will be home on the last day of May, and getting back to work on une 5th.
I decided to take a holiday before going home! The main aim is to rest and make sense of all that has happened over the last few months!
The plan is to learn to dive in the beautiful clear waters of the Gili Islands, off Lombok and surf in Bali.

So far so good, I have finished my Open Water Course and moving on to the Advanced one, before probably attempting the “rescue course”, which is all about keeping calm under water and knowing what to do in the event of an emergency.
The ocean is a wonderful place and the ability to breathe under water a dream come true. I have done some snorkelling before, using a mask and snorkel to watch the marine life from the surface. But actually being amongst the thousands of multicolored fish, swimming between the bizarre coral structures and being amazed when crossing paths with the bigger animals: turtles, sharks, squids…
After each dive, we record on our dive log all the creature we saw, so I am learning a great deal about tropical water fish.
In the morning, a run around the island is a good warm up, I follow it by a session of meditation (generally Vipassana – the one I was taught by the Buddhist Monks at Wat Ram Poeng in Thailand,  December ’08) and once underwater I use my breathing techniques to breathe efficiently and calmly. I am finding that others run out of air way before I do.

Under water, all the senses are amplified. The heart rate tends to increase, and the breathing accelerates, which consumes more oxygen. The aim is to chill out, breathe efficiently and stay under water as long as possible.
I am glad I can use the techniques I have learnt previously to make my scuba diving more enjoyable and confortable.

Gili Trawangan is a small island, the dive school a small community of friendly people, and so word that I am an osteopath got around pretty quickly… I treated the owner of the Irish bar, my dive instructor, one of the staff, and diagnosed a few other people hanging out there! It is fun to help out and it is a good preparation for going home!

Surfing is a different matter, this time it is my practise of Tai Chi which comes into play. My balance is a lot better, so once I get up on the board, I find myself riding along comfortably. I feel the strength of the wave through the board and into my feet, it is wonderful.
Tai Chi on the beach is great, despite the many people who stare at me… It is very busy even early in the morning. But that won’t stop me!

I am also preparing my return to France: boring things like taxes and insurance, and fun things like where I will live and when I will meet up with the people I love!
I am enjoying the moment, excited for the future and very much looking forward to using all I have learnt in my daily practise of osteopathy.

To give you an idea of what’s I am seeing everyday, check out these guys – we were diving in the same school, and surf -nearly- in the same place 🙂 http://vimeo.com/4679832

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Life at the beach

After a few days spent in the heart of Sydney, I met up with a massage therapist near Bondi beach, Sydney’s world famous Surf beach. We met up for a massage and osteopathy swap, and we finished with a beautiful big salad and a chat. We got on very well, and she was kind enough to arrange for one of her friends to host me! So I am now staying in Coogee, which is a wonderful small beach South East of Sydney.

I could think of worse places to be! So I am hanging out at the beach everyday, and walking between the beaches of Coogee, Bronte (pictured above), Tamarama, and Bondi. I have met and treated other massage therapists and their family, I am getting meals cooked for me in return for my treatments, or offers of accomodation for my oncoming travels, notably in Cairns and Byron Bay. It is a wonderful experience to meet people in similar fields to mine, who are interested in what I have found out so far, and my new and improved approach.
Importantly, my new age osteopathy slash thai slash chi massage is proving to be rather effective on the small amount of people I have treated so far. I am busy bringing all the information together, so it makes sense to me, and feels “together” for the patient. I would not want my treatment to feel patchy, as it can quickly become uncomfortable.
Even more importantly, I am really enjoying treating these people, my new friends, and practising what I have learned.

The rest of my time is spent studying my Thai and Chinese medicine books, as well as Western medicine and anatomy books, to refresh my knowledge of physiology and anatomy. I might as well make the most of my time! I am also managing to keep up the practise of meditation, with about an hour every other day. The beach  has become my favourite place for it. I then run and jump into the waves, swimming and enjoying the tumbles.

I am learning to bodysurf. What you need for bodysurfing, is a body, and some waves. Once you’re in the water, you swim hard to get beyond where the waves break. Then you watch the Ocean. The water is about 20 degrees, the sun is burning and even out there in the middle of the water, it smells of sunscreen lotion mixed with seaweed. Once you spot a nice swell (or see the other bodysurfers getting excited), you turn your back to the wave, and start swimming like a lunatic towards the shore. The aim is to pick up speed before the wave catches you.
When you do not pick up enough speed, the wave engulfes you and pulls you deep into the Ocean, filling your nose and mouth full of terribly salty sea water. But if you manage to swim fast enough, and stay perpendicular to the oncoming wave, as it approaches you, you can feel the power of the ocean lifting you up gently.
At first, you are gently being propulsed into the sky on a big fluffy cloud. The wave is thundering behind you, and breaks a couple of centimetres from your toes. From that moment, I found the best technique to outstretch both arms in front of you, and keep kicking your legs. Once the power of the wave is released, gravity catches up with the rising water and yourself, and the foam crashes down towards the sand. Because you continued kicking your legs, you stay on top of the wave. You are high up on the wave, kicking hard, watching the beach, the water, being propulsed forward at great speed. This is body surfing.
There is no graceful way of getting off the wave. As it hits the sand, the wave’s strength disperses, and your weight is no longer supported, so you too fall towards the bottom, often in a big tumble. I find that my generous buttocks tend to find the surface first, and then I fight the water until my face reaches the air. You cannot breathe in straight away, as you must first expel all the sea water that has entered your nose and mouth. The salty, nauseous taste stays with you as you take your deep inbreath. The cool air feels delicious and restore your lungs. Another couple of breaths, before facing the Ocean and swimming out again.
I finally give up when a wave brings me all the way to the shore. I am breathless, exhausted and thirsty. I run out, and dive on the warm towel waiting for me, spread out on the perfectly soft sand.

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BKK to SYD, easy life down under

I am in Sydney, after an uneventful journey from Chiang Mai. I am now settling to my new life, as a true “backpacker” for a couple of weeks, until my parents fly in for Christmas, and we head to the Great Barrier Reef for celebrating!

A true bacpacker sleeps in the dorm of a backpacker’s hostel, mine being the George in the centre of town. A true backpacker lives one day at a time. A true backpacker does not have a plan, with nothing special to do. A true backpacker drinks a lot of beer (which I am not doing, I am still far too healthy for that!). A true backpacker is on a tight budget, so cooks in the hostel’s kitchen (well “cooking” is not quite the right word for most people’s habits, who survive on cereal and toast). A true backpacker is always in a great mood, and wants to meet lots and lots of new people.

I am sharing a room with 2 other girls, I pay my rent daily so I can leave when I feel like it, I have started cooking again!!! For the first time in 2 months, I went to a supermarket to buy ingredients, cooked them, ate them slowly and did my washing up! It feels great to cook for myself.
I don’t know what I will be up to over the next few days. Yesterday I walked around the main sites: Darlington, Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera, Botanic Gardens… It’s wonderful, but it’s a bit strange not having a particular aim.
I have met some nice new people, travelers who have had this lifestyle for weeks, months, or sometimes even years.

I am meditating every day, even though it’s a little difficult when you’re sharing a room, and I have yet to find a Buddhist temple here. I will find my way to a beach soon, and resume my learning of surfing.
Oh no! I am doing it again! I actually really want to learn how to surf (a week’s worth of lessons on the French Atlantic Coast this summer hardly makes me a pro) and where else but the East Coast of Australia to do that! And that’s when I realise that I will never be a true backpacker. Because I really like to learn things, and have a healthy routine of sports-learning-activity, rather than sleeping-boozing-partying.

One of my teachers in Chiang Mai also gave me the name of a Alexander Technique practitioner here in Sydney, so I will hopefully get to meet him

and see how this technique could fit it to my practice.
Put simply, the Alexander Technique helps people achieve good posture by “unlearning” bad habits and returning to natural, instinctive posture. Take a toddler for example: if he drops something on the floor, will he stoop to pick it up? The answer is no – they always squat down, protecting the muscles in their backs.

Even when bending over, they will keep a straight back, unlike adults who put their backs at risk, as bending over incorrectly increases the pressure on the intervertebral disks and joints, which puts them at a higher risk of developing aches, strains and back pain.

Even in a sitting position, babies and toddlers seems to keep their back straight, where us adults always have to fight with our backs and shoulders to avoid the classic “desk posture”. Oh and when have you ever since a child crossing one leg over the other?

Aaccording to Frederick Matthias Alexander, we all know how to use our bodies correctly, but we have taken on bad habits instead. The point of the technique is to get out of those habits to find our instincts take over. This method means that your body tells your brain what to do, rather than the other way round. It seems to be longer lasting in action, as the memory of the body is better than of the brain.
I would like to learn more on the Alexander Technique, and train myself to unlearn my bad habits… and achieve better posture! I would then be able to teach my patients about it also, and prevent a lot of repetitive movement problems and muscle tightness.
Actually, this technique is fantastic for those who use their bodies a lot – office workers of course, but even more so for sportspeople, musicians and artists. F.M. Alexander was actually a Shakesperian orator, and developed these techniques to train his vocal cords, projecting his voice better and preventing chronic laryngitis he suffered from.

It has been a year exactly since I wrote the first article on this blog, it was the start of organising this crazy adventure.
I am really happy about the start of my journey, and how far I have gone so far. Things happened much faster than I could have imagined. I have added a new category, called “So Far…” to give a summary of what I have been up to, without having to read all my posts!

Oh and today in Noirouf (my dog at home) anniversary… he does not have a birthday because we got him from the pound, but he arrived at my parents’ house on December 12th, 1999 (or was it 2000?). Anyway, happy anniversary.

Noirouf le chien.

Noirouf le chien.

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