Following last weeks interview between Yogi Bare founder Kat Pither and creative powerhouse Clara Jonas we're following up with Part 2. An interview again by Kat with The Wave Project. Followed by a few tips on how to navigate those moments when you feel "Lost at Sea"
The Wave Project is a national surf therapy charity that works with young people to improve their mental and emotional wellbeing. The charity began life on a single beach in Cornwall ten years ago and now works with children across the UK. For every Yogi Bare Flow Mat sold, Yogi Bare support the incredible work The Wave Project do – here's to many more people being supported through life’s big waves.
What's your name, organisation & role?
Joe Taylor, Founder & CEO of The Wave Project
What is your personal ethos/aim?
Move slow and fix things
Why was The Wave Project formed?
Initially to test whether surfing would improve the mental health of young people and later having discovered that the results were a lot better than anyone was ever expecting to continue to develop that work and explore the effects of surfing on young people. All with the goal of keeping it free of charge for participants.
Why is surf therapy so important to young people experiencing mental health disorders?
For a few reasons, firstly it’s an activity that young people feel cool doing - there’s no stigma. Secondly, there’s something about the water environment that is really beneficial for improving mental health particularly improving symptoms of depression, and thirdly I think it offers a challenge which can help reduce anxiety but it’s a challenge that can be met in a supportive way, as opposed to a challenging way. Young people don’t feel crushed by not succeeding at surfing the first few times they try it, the learning process is very much part of the therapy.
What are the effects of surf therapy?
The effects are a higher level of confidence and improved self-esteem amongst the young people who take part. Reduced levels of anxiety and self-doubt are also common benefits as are an improved sense of one’s future self - that’s being able to see yourself and your life unfolding in a positive way in the future, it’s so important to good mental wellbeing.
How has the project developed over the years, since 2010?
It’s expanded hugely from being a small voluntary project working with around 20 people a year to a national programme with 14 branches supporting over 1000 young people every year. What we deliver now is actually still quite similar to what we delivered in 2010. The nature of the work is still very similar to what we created in 2010 the idea of a supportive community, we just reach more children now.
What challenges have your faced?
Initially scepticism was high about whether the concept was effective and ongoing challenges are to keep the service free for people and keeping the quality of what we deliver good whilst also expanding it.
How important is your community, and your volunteers?
The Wave Project is a community of volunteers, we can’t measure their importance because the volunteers are the charity. There’s no way of quantifying the importance of our volunteers because without them we simply wouldn’t exist.
What positive impact of surf therapy have you seen in young people’s lives?
It’s been hugely transformative for me personally as someone who entered into all of this as a kind of summer project - to still be doing it ten years later it’s entirely because of the impact Ive seen it have on young peoples lives. Everything from children who wouldn’t leave their bedrooms when they started our projects who have gone on to become successful surfers. From children who wouldn’t speak in public finding their voice again thanks to surf therapy sessions building up their confidence. It’s almost incalculable the impact it has on our participants.
How important is seeing surf therapy being recognised around the world, and being part of the International Surf Therapy Organisation?
I think it’s really important that people are accepting that something like surfing can be therapeutic for lots of different types of people. I think that’s a really important principal that ISTO and the wider surf therapy movement is demonstrating. I think it’s really helping to really build that case for surf therapy and its credibility.
How do you find your own flow?
For me personally I use music and exercise, that could be surfing, or it could be running or time in the gym with some music on that fits my mood. I find that I can get into a kind of meditative state where I can confront my problems and hopefully come out the other side, if not with answers, at least feeling better about stuff.
Learn more about The Wave Project here
Kat's tips on what to do when you feel a little lost at sea...
Breathe in and out slowly, fill your lungs with air naturally. Breathe through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Inhale slowly and rhythmically, counting from 1 to 5. Exhale for 5 seconds.Continue until you feel calmness. Do not take breaks and do not hold your breath, let the air circulate continuously.
Equal Breathing or Sama Vritti
Breathe in slowly to the count of four then exhale just as slow, through the nose. Extend the count up to 6 or 8. This exercise has calming effects on the nervous system and improves concentration. It is also recommended right before bedtime if you experience difficulties in falling asleep.
The most effective technique for controlling stress levels, reducing heart rate and blood pressure. Put a hand on your chest and the other on the lower abdomen. Inhale deeply through the nose creating an expansion of the lungs (without raising your chest). Take 6-10 deep and slow breaths per minute, for 10 minutes daily.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
An exercise for mental balance. Sit comfortably, placing the thumb of the right hand over the nostril on the same side. Inhale deeply through the left nostril. Cover the left nostril with the ring finger and exhale slowly through the right nostril. Continue alternating.
Another effective breathing exercise is positive visualisation. All you have to do is close your eyes, breathe in and out slowly, imagining a place where you would like to be. This way, the body relaxes and negative thoughts are replaced by images that will install an overall positive state.
View our Yogi Bare collection here