What happened on Oahu, why Rochelle Ballard is coming to NY, what exactly is a Surf Into Yoga Crossing and what’s FOND got to do with it?
February was a spectacular month. I finally honed in on what I wanted to do with my skillset (a.k.a. – the rest of my life), and put the wheels in motion to make it official. After registering The FOND Group LLC, I decided my next step should entail a bit of my favorite kind of spiritual rejuvenation: the traveling kind.
First Stop: Hawaii, Of Course…
As a late-blooming surfer and perpetual lover of nature, it was amazing I’d never visited Hawaii before. Ever. I’d heard stories and seen thousands of images but somehow my brain could never quite piece together what it might actually be like there. At one point in college, I’d even tried to transfer to Hawaii, sight unseen, as I wasn’t getting enough beach in Northern California. But the transfer fell through, and 15 years later I’d still never been. (It’s probably for the best it didn’t work out, or I’d likely be degree-less and selling seashells by the seashore to this day.) I decided to get right to the core of the place and targeted that legendary surf Mecca: Oahu’s famed North Shore as my introduction. I was insanely curious to see what the scene, the surfing, the lifestyle was really all about. I couldn’t wait.
iPhone shot of Pipeline just blocks from Rochelle’s property on Hawaii’s North Shore. Waves got up to 20 feet that week, I’d never seen anything like it.
Good timing landed me on the North Shore during the Volcom Pipe Pro and I got to see the best surfing I’d ever witnessed in person on waves so crazy I could hardly wrap my head around what I was seeing.
Destination North Shore – Rochelle Ballard’s Property
With some luck and opportune timing, I had made arrangements to stay on the property of surfing legend Rochelle Ballard for a 10-day respite at her North Shore Wellness Retreat. Surfing, meditation, bodywork, natural food and the greenest surroundings you could imagine, just steps from some of the best surfing beaches in the world… Truly paradise.
Rochelle Ballard’s North Shore Wellness Retreat. Rochelle has since sold the property and returned to her native Kauai with the intention of taking her practice on the road – Surf Into Yoga Crossing is born.
From the moment I arrived, I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. My body and soul just kicked into happy gear and I was overcome by a great sense of peace and the notion that my health was mine to reclaim. The past year had been tough, both mentally and physically, and being here at Rochelle’s special green property (even the house is deep green) marked the first solid steps towards my new course. I wasn’t there for any reason but to recharge and, for the first time in a long while (perhaps my life), I’d given myself full permission to check out and relax, nurture myself, and just take in all the good laid out before me. This decision to clear out the old and chuck the clutter of emails, meetings, and “should-haves” from my conscience had left me clear and free and excited for what was next.
The Beautiful Green Property, Rochelle’s home (since sold) on Hawaii’s North Shore Where I Stayed for 10 days
Yoga with Rochelle…
I’m no yogi (I tend to giggle when the Ommms start), but I am a firm believer in the mind-body connection, and my past training as a sports massage therapist is something I apply in daily life: I’m quite certain the pains I experience in my feet, back and neck have as much to do with what is going on mentally as to what is happening physically. Proof of that showed in how beat up I would feel after a tough work day in comparison to the relative pain-free state I would experience after a 20 mile run. There was no doubt I had some serious unwinding to do after the contortions I’d put myself through trying to make an unhealthy and overstressed lifestyle work for me—and yet I did still have serious reservations about Yoga and its cult-like tendencies. A LOT of adoption without a lot of information scares me. My scientific brain had led me here, though, and it was through the study of anatomy and physiology, and its practical application, that I’d reached the personal conclusion that I damn well better learn to connect and take care of my body and mind to have any chance of long term bliss and freedom from stress. My mind was as open as it was ever going to be on this trip and in this place—so I decided to take a yoga class with Rochelle. She calls it Surf into Yoga.
Well, let’s just say Rochelle’s yoga teaching style is unlike any other I’ve ever experienced. She is a firecracker, and anyone who’s ever seen her charging, big-wave style of surfing knows she possesses an immense inner fire and strength that extends far beyond her tiny frame. What surprised me, though, was how gentle and nurturing she also is. She developed this style of yoga when no other style spoke to her as a bodyworker and athlete, and she’s passionate about sharing it, but there’s no dogma, no cult, no pressure, no judgment –just something really beautiful and healing that left me wanting to learn more. As a fellow bodyworker and athlete, the way she taught, I just got it.
Killer massage too…
I was also the grateful recipient of some amazing bodywork from Rochelle. She knows her stuff. I’ve been getting weekly massages since I was 21 to manage a chronic misalignment of my spine. I’ve had massages from gurus, monks, quacks, Rolfers –and in every style: shiatsu, deep tissue, hot stone, Thai, inverted, underwater, just plain bad. I’ve had massages in a dozen countries and from a few hundred practitioners. (Don’t get jealous, you haven’t seen my back.) I’m not the first to say that Hawaiians have their own special energy and approach to life that just makes for a calmer, lighter self, but in Rochelle’s bodywork, I felt it. In fact, her body and energy work and our resulting conversations were so powerful and positive that I felt compelled to find a way to bring them to a wider audience. I was a believer – this stuff was legit.
And we talked…
Rochelle and I sat down and talked. To my surprise, I learned that I was the last guest ever at this property. Rochelle was making some major changes in her own life path and it turned out we were crossing each other’s at the exact right moment. Me, I needed inspiration and a worthwhile cause to get moving with FOND, and she was ready to move on her dream of bringing Surf Into Yoga and her life’s spiritual lessons to the world… Starting with NY. I could help with this! I’d been craving exactly this sort of collaboration. As soon as we started talking, it felt as if it was meant to be.
We shared our visions. We both believed in truth, in putting messages out into the world that are both positive and practical, in supporting local businesses, in giving back to our communities. We believed in health for body and mind, in good wholesome nutrition and a positive, all-inclusive athletic culture with opportunity for all.
Now, quite magically, several conversations, texts, emails later, and the concept is alive and kicking and will start this September. Rochelle is bringing the inspiration I experienced on the North Shore of Oahu right here to the urban beaches of NYC. And FOND is getting to help.
Surf Into Yoga Crossing is Born!
So, What is a Surf Into Yoga Crossing?
Surf Into Yoga New York Crossing is a personal journey with Rochelle Ballard that willb e documented through blog writing, photography and video. The crossing will feature a series of interactive elements involving Rochelle Ballard and local communities with the goal of sharing its mission. Read more on Surf Into Yoga NY Crossing with Rochelle Ballard.
What FOND has got to do with it and how you can help:
FOND Group is working with local brands, venues, non-profits and community groups to finalize the details of Rochelle’s visit which will include surf and yoga activities for underprivileged youth, a photo presentation and lecture on her travels and life lessons through surfing, private yoga/surf instruction and bodywork with Rochelle and–waves permitting—some epic surfing on our own Northeast swells.
GET INVOLVED! If you are a brand or individual that would like to get involved in the NY Crossing with Rochelle Ballard, please use this form
or email us at
with Surf Into Yoga
in the subject.
Read more on what Stay tuned for more details coming soon!