Meet one of Immersion’s ambassador
In the heart of the old quarter of Bordeaux where she lives, Anouk gave us a rendez-vous in a cosy vegan café with a pleasant smell of wood. We were immediately seduced by her smile, her radiant personality, her philosophy of life and it became instantly clear that she should be our ambassador.
Hi Anouk, can you introduce yourself?
Born in Chamonix Mt Blanc, I’m a kid of the mountain and of the snow and I grew up on skis and snowboards. My parents love to surf so every summer was spent driving the coast from France down to Portugal hunting for waves. We travelled in an old camper van called Gonzo. When I was 8, they took me and my sister to Costa Rica. It was a life changing trip, which got my parents even more eager to travel and surf the world. Mum is an osteopath and a pillar in our community. She taught me how to express my feelings, breathe and meditate since a young age. Dad is a grounded and wise man who works the wood, grows veggies and whispers to bees. My school friends called our family home, “The happiness home”, and although it hasn’t always been “happy”, it’s an atmosphere of love, care and of unconditional support. It’s the culture in which I grew up in and these are values that I thrive to embody daily with myself and others.
How did you get started?
I left home when I was 17 and flew to Australia to learn English and surf. I chose Australia because it looked cool, with amazing point breaks and good looking boys. When I now see 17 years old girls, I think: “OMG but you are just a baby stay at your mum and dad”. Ahahah I was only supposed to stay 5 months but I ended up staying in Oz for almost 5 years. There, I graduated from a Bachelor of communication and marketing from Griffith University and kept surfing between Noosa and Byron Bay.
Like many of us, I was very attracted by the image that big surfing brand convey. But as I started to step into this role, something in me felt off. I was terribly sick every time I had to go to work and I felt deeply unhappy.
I realized that I had no clue of who I was or what I was meant to do in the world, so I quit my job and decided to do things I knew made me happy: travel and surf.
From that moment on, Life became more magical then it had ever been before and I found myself the soul of a teacher.
Photo Thomas Lodin
You were introduced to Yoga pretty much at the same time weren’t you? Can you tell us more about that?
Initially the practice wasn’t what interested me most. My first interest was the practitioner, Darren, an Ashtanga teacher from New Zealand, who was also my flatmate. We fell in love with each other and our romance was pivotal in my life. He is the first who taught me my sun salutations, my warriors etc… A few months into my practice the idea of teaching yoga started to grow in me. I felt that it could really add value to my surf classes. One morning, sitting with my computer at a café in Byron Bay I enrolled in a yoga teacher training in Bali. It was one of the cheapest training that I could find because I didn’t have much money. I really didn’t imagine I would become a full time yoga teacher. It’s half way into my training that I realized that it was a job I could have a lot of fun in. The first time I taught, I said: “Inhale raise your arms up” and 25 people inhaled and raised their arms up, I thought: “WOW, this is cool”. I was hooked. Since then I have added yoga to my life as a spiritual practice, as a job and as an inspiration for my next adventure.
Can you tell us how surfing came into your life?
Dad taught me surfing from a very young age, but I really fell in love with surfing the summer of my 15th Birthday. My parents sent me and my best friend to Richard Schmidt surf camp in Santa Cruz California. It’s the first time that I witnessed less conventional styles of surfing, with more creative and quirky moves.
That summer I learnt to cross step and nose ride on my soft top. Moving to Australia was also a dive into the surf culture and everything that gravitates around it: art, community and lifestyle. Surfing is such an awesome medium to create connexion and celebrate each other. And, although I don’t like overcrowded spots, surfing to me, is an activity that I believe is better when shared with others.
Photo Giang Alam Wardani
How do you connect yoga and surfing? What are the benefits?
Surfing and yoga are both my spiritual and artistic practices. They teach me to accept and embrace the present moment. Instead of judging the things that I cannot change, like the weather and the swell, they force me to compose with my elements and find creative responses to situations. And of course, I’m not perfect and I still complain and get annoyed by many things.
I like to compare waves to our emotional experience. Emotions come and go and our job is to accept and learn to surf them with elegancy. Whether it’s a 2 foot clean little peeler of Love or a 5 feet giant wave storm of Anger, we are all going to experience them at some stages in our Life. Emotional management is a way more than a skill, it’s a form of intelligence, and the more we learn to surf those waves, the richer our ride and the greater our experience of Life.
Photo Thomas Lodin
What’s your philosophy in life?
I believe in taking risks. And I don’t mean just big waves riding. Saying “I love you” to someone can be the scariest ride of our Life. Magic begins outside of our comfort zone, and although it can be terrifying, Life has shown me that it is worth it every time. I always get totally blown away by what and who I meet on the other side of comfort: the opportunities and the people. Like when I flew to the other side of the world at age 17 or when I took the bold decision to teach yoga. Some people will laugh, judge and criticize. But in the end it doesn’t really matter. I have been totally ridiculous so many times in Life and nowadays I try to spend as much time out of comfort as I can. That’s the secret of a rich Life.
Photo Thomas Lodin
You are now a Life Coach as well, can you tell us more about that?
A Life coach helps another human realize their highest living potential. It’s a pretty rad job and I’m just getting started.
Growing up, we build certain beliefs about Life and about ourselves that we learnt through our family culture and society. And although those beliefs serve us for some time, they rapidly limit our experience of Life.
I help people re assess the way they live and set a new inspiring and exciting vision for their future. We work together to create real actionable goals and I provide accountability and life enhancing tools to support them throughout their journey. I don’t do surface work, we go deep and so I ask my clients to be all in and to give their best to this process. Eventually the rewards and the fruits to pick are incredible. I’m absolutely passionate about people, and seeing so many unused potential is what motivates me to do this job, to teach yoga, to write, speak etc…
Photo Giang Alam Wardani
Have you ever experience difficulties being a woman at the take off ?
I think it’s very easy and awesome to be a woman surfing. I have never felt rejected from a spot or felt neglected at the line up because I am a woman. On the contrary, I think that boys really appreciate a feminine presence in the water. And when you’re a douche, you’re a douche, it had nothing to do with your gender. Women can be as aggressive and cruel as men. It’s all about having fun and keeping a respectful attitude in the water.
What’s your vision for women surfing?
Feminine surfing has evolved a lot. Also I think that there are still a lot of women who try to copy other women’s styles that they see in the medias. And of course, we are all the product of multiple inspirations. But imitation can be a limitation. Personally, what fascinate me are women who own who they are through their surfing and their style. Whether a woman likes to wear a bright pink suit and surf with a super girly style or whether she is a true tomboy with a loose turns and moves, I think both are as cool as long as they are authentic. That’s why I love the fact that the swimwear industry is booming, it gives us more choice for self expression and more diversity in the line up. So hopefully the future has more inspiring, quirky and self-expressed women surfer!
What made you want to become our ambassador ?
I love how Immersion unites women’s voices from different oceans of the world. I find it elegant and inspiring so I’m feeling super humbled to be an ambassador.
I’m stoked to be a part of it and share ideas and thoughts that hopefully can help us grow and keep generating a really epic vibe in the water for the future.