Matt Aldridge is one of Australia’s best kept secrets, till now. He’s the National Sales Manager for Pyzel Surfboards Australia sponsors of current World Champion John John Flores. Matt has been busy as a bee as surfboard sales for the company have skyrocketed due to John John’s accolades in 2016. We were lucky enough to have a couple of his signed comp boards in the background for this shoot!
So you could believe how stoked I was to bring this yoga/surfing mash up to reality as I have found a laughable amount of benefits that yoga has actually increased my surfing performance exponentially. I found my endurance elevated, paddling power increased and my ability to stay focused and calm at the same time was next level.
Matt, now thirty-four has been surfing since he was seven. This guy rips! When he’s not working on building the surf brand, you could find him at D’bah or on the yoga mat where he says;” I love the flexibility and how I feel after a practice.”
I had the opportunity to catch up with this cool cat before he traveled on his annual trip to Hawaii earlier this year. Enjoy Matt’s testimonial on how yoga and surfing are infused like a cup of matcha green tea and salmon sashimi. Total Zen.
It was January 2015, I was off to Hawaii for a 3 week surfing trip chasing some of the best swells of the season. With a new batch of Pyzel surfboards in my quiver and my mind and body in top condition I was highly confident, with the swells on the way to the North Shore of Hawaii, that I would be riding some of the biggest waves of my life.
You have to be physically fit and strong to surf these types of waves but you also need to have flexibility and the ability to stay calm in dangerous situations. To get me to where I needed to be my preparation wasn’t in the water alone, I incorporated many different training techniques even taking it to the (yoga) mat to help increase my flexibility and mind control. Little did I know at the time that it would save my life.
There I was, surfing an outer reef in the middle of the ocean, with a REALLY good swell running. A rouge massive wave came through 25 feet Hawaiian (50 foot face) I thought that I was in a great position to ride the wave – I took it. After taking off and getting to the bottom of the wave I quickly realised that I was too deep. The wave shut down around me.
What happened next was one of the scariest (and most amazing) experiences of my life. The wash from the wave picked me up, threw me in the air, then when I landed it sent me straight to the bottom. The power and intensity of the wave was like nothing that I had ever experienced before.
While being dragged in the massive white wash, my body was bending and twisting in ways that I never thought possible. It was at this time I was VERY thankful for the flexibility, breathing and mind control I gained from doing yoga. It kept me alive. The power of the wave would not let me up for air. It kept holding me deep under, it was then that the breathing and mind control techniques that I learnt in yoga kicked in, it kept me calm.
When I thought the wash was finally about to release me to the surface to get air, the next wave hit me and put me straight back in. Finally it spat me out, I was able to get to the surface and get some air. My friends were there to see if I was ok. Thankfully I was alive.
A 2 wave hold down is HIGHLY dangerous in any size waves let alone 25 feet! With the training I did going into Hawaii I knew that I could handle such a dangerous experience as long as I remained calm. I am VERY thankful of all the preparation I did, especially yoga.
I still use these techniques today, if I’m surfing 2 foot or 25 foot swell, nothing changes. I also apply it to my normal day-to-day life, when you are put in a difficult situation and you need to make a calm and sensible decision. I think back to my training, do a couple of exercises and go on from there.
Yoga saved my life and I will continue to do it for the rest of my life.