Cherise Richards Talks Surfing, Yoga and Injury Prevention

Hello Cherise, tell me a little about where you are from? Whats the surf scene like there?

Well, I’m originally from Oregon but I didn’t start surfing till after college so I always joke how I’m a late surf bloomer. My first surf experiences were in San Francisco, and then the bulk of my learning was in Ventura. I used to go to c-street all the time by myself and I sucked, just ate humble pie non-stop. I never had a lesson, I’d just go out and struggle and learn through trial and error. Having grown up in dance, yoga and capoeira classes I was sick of having teachers telling me what to do, part of what I fell in love with in surfing was that I didn’t have anyone directing me accept the ocean. C-street in Ventura is a pretty crowded scene but it’s great as there’s a point on the north side good for short boarding and then really long rolling waves south towards the pier good for long boarding. It’s a long beach and there’s lots of variety and space. And I’m grateful now to have had to have learned etiquette early on so crowds don’t scare me now.

You are a yoga teacher, what is your favourite thing about yoga?

Yoga really is an antidote and balancing force for all the active and muscularly demanding things I like to do. My certification is in yin yoga and my class is informed by a diverse range of influences from my dance and somatic background. It’s focus is unwinding from the tension and tightness that comes from paddling hard and being on high alert in the water. I love getting to close my eyes and melt into a pose, let my mind wander and take time to bring my awareness from the external and draw it inward.

How do you think yoga and surfing are connected?

Well, they aren’t necessarily, although you can draw parallels and if you choose to use yoga as a supplement to surfing then you are connecting them. Yoga and surf are both about mind/body awareness. They are both spiritual for many people, and they both require practice and dedication. But I think of them more as yin and yang to each other. Complementary physical practices.

Being such an active women, how do you fuel both your body and mind?

Something I started doing about 3 years ago is 10 minutes of ab exercises a day. I’m very flexible and have long limbs so keeping everything tight and together in any of the physical things I do has always been more work for me than it would be for someone whose naturally more muscular and springy. I used to have back pain fairly regularly even though I felt strong. But surfing and capoeira are both really lower back intensive and doing 10 minutes of just ab exercises a day made me feel so much more stable and I haven’t had back problems since. I swear by it now. I don’t really like to be too restrictive about what I eat, I’ll eat anything but try to stick to foods with natural and high quality ingredients.

Tips for any women wanting to improve their skills in the water?

In the water the best thing you can do is watch other people. People whose style you love and also people who aren’t as good. Personally I learn by watching and mimicking, I don’t over think things. And there’s no substitute for time in the water, get out there as often as possible in as many types of conditions and waves as possible. You’re body will start to naturally understand how to be most efficient out there if it gets the repetition needed to refine and understand what’s being asked of it.
Being a body conscious person, any advice on how we can prevent injury in the water?

I think having awareness is key to saving yourself from dangerous or potentially harmful situations. Always keeping your mind on both what the water, your board and others around you are doing is vital. And developing quick reflexes as sometimes things in the ocean change in an instant and you have to be ready to react just as quickly. Also 10 min abs!

Thanks Cherise!

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