In lockdown, I went on a surfing and yoga retreat – via Zoom


It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m polishing my surfing “pop up” technique under the instructor’s watchful gaze. I lie prone, elbows in, chest raised and push off the balls of my feet, jumping into a wobbly high crouch. It’s not the most graceful move, but coach Rachel shouts encouragement at my efforts.

I’m on a “retreat” with Soul & Surf, which runs yoga and surfing holidays in Portugal, India and Sri Lanka, but this weekend we’re not in an exotic location by the sea. I’m trying out its new Soul & Surf Pause – a two-day “virtual holiday” with the action taking place in my living room via Zoom.

“We wanted to recreate the elements of a retreat with us – and stay connected while we can’t travel,” said co-founder Ed Templeton. “There’s the yoga and surfing, but that sense of community too.”

The timetable is a mix of live classes and pre-recorded material, and we join an introductory chat to meet the team and other guests in lockdown around the world. There are three hour-long Zoom yoga classes in different styles, from dynamic vinyasa to grounding yin, designed to counter our more sedentary lives and aid relaxation. We spend a pleasant hour learning shiatsu self-massage with Becca, finding acupressure points to strengthen lungs and release stress.





Jane doing yoga at home



Jane also enjoys the three one-hour Zoom yoga classes

There are playlists to boost the holiday vibe, suggested menus with short video cookery demonstrations (my Sri Lankan dal tastes great despite missing a few ingredients) and recorded breath work, meditation and yoga nidra (sleep) classes to dip into. A surf and music film (Self Discovery for Social Survival, on Amazon Prime) is suggested for an ocean boost – and to analyse for surfing techniques.

As someone self-isolating alone, I love having days planned and punctuated with regular check-ins with other people. On Saturday evening we meet Sam Bleakley, pro-surfer and filmmaker (we’ve been sent a link to his Brilliant Corners: Kerala), and talk about the growing surf culture in India. We also hear from marine activist Natalie Fox about eXXpedition, an all-female sailing trip to collect data on ocean microplastics.

The Sunday evening sundowners come around all too quickly. It has been a perfect mix of physical activity, interesting chats and time to chill – a weekend “away”, without stepping outside the front door.

Soul & Surf’s next home retreat is on 9-10 May, with others to follow, £80pp. Cost includes contributions to charity partners Surfers Against Sewage and the Sebastian Indian Social Project in Kerala, and some free spots for key workers

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