Clara tells her story as a young child and her fascination with the ocean. She also shares her travels and the most memorable surfing spots she’s been to.
Listen to the Episode Here
What are the things you consider to be the most important in life? Sometimes, the answer to that creates an irony of contradicting goals. Distraught as you can be, you’re left with the dilemma of which one to let go and which one to pursue. Rather than wasting time making a decision which you’ll probably regret later, why not just weave all these goals together in the present. You’ve already identified your destination. The only thing left for you to do is walk the path.
Natalie Fox was born where freedom is abundant. Rather than taking that for granted, she spent it to experience life full of worthwhile educational adventures. That moment her eyes saw the beauty of this world she knew what she wanted in life: Nature, Yoga, and Surf. Hence, the foundation of YogaRama and Eco Yoga Surf. However, what comes with this, is the painful truth that this lovely paradise is facing a relentless threat. Therefore, adding to her goals is to find her voice as a professional in a scientific arena. Natalie is currently taking up a Masters Degree focused on sustainability. Today, she’s living her dream life pursuing her goals, traveling in her van between Portugal and Morzine.
In this episode, we get to hear of Natalie’s amazing adventures, campaigns, and expeditions. She also tells their struggles to save whales amidst political prejudice and why this program and similar wildlife protection activities should continue to be enhanced. One of Natalie’s interdisciplinary research is about microplastics and how vast their range has come. We can contribute to defeating this wicked enemy through systems thinking and Natalie expounds on this further along with some deep thoughts on how we can utilize our resources wisely. As we learn from Natalie’s story, surfing is indeed a great teacher. Without words, it teaches the heart lessons that even intelligent humans, with all their advanced wisdom, fail to understand.
02:04 Freedom Well Spent
05:08 The Sea Shepherd
10:47 A Day In The Life Of A Sea Shepherd
14:37 Experiential Learning
17:44 Microplastic Pollution- A Wicked Problem
22:08 How To Reduce Plastic Pollution
27:02 Surfing Into Flow State
31:39 Online Home
How are you? How is your lockdown going? Have you been allowed back in the ocean? Actually, at the moment this podcast drops it’s the first day we’ll be officially allowed out and I can’t wait to see the sea and possibly dip my toes into it. I’ve missed it so much. I don’t know about you.
Today, I’m very excited to introduce you to my guest. Her name is Natalie Fox and she’s a fascinating surfer who’s had an incredible journey. In this episode, she shares her story of joining Sea Shepherd, campaigning in Antarctica, embarking on a life-changing voyage from Plymouth to the Azores islands, collecting microplastics and analyzing data, and how her passion for surfing and nature and the oceans has led her to refocus her studies on sustainability from a scientific point of view. Natalie has created a lifestyle that will inspire many. She’s a yoga teacher and a surf instructor and spends the summer months living in her very own reconditioned van. So I hope you enjoy her story.
I hope you enjoy this episode.
Take care, have fun, and enjoy the waves.
Connect with Natalie:
place to live.
In this episode, Julia brings us deep into the concept of flow- what it is, when does it happen, how to achieve it, and how to integrate it into our life so we can release all the burnout and anxiety. She also inspires us to stretch our capacity as far as we can. There’s no time limit to the possibilities we can have and flow is the path to get us empowered.
Maree Beare is the CEO of Wanngi, a healthcare app that is changing the lives of millions around the world. Maree shares her startup experience and how surfing is helping her to find balance in a fast-paced lifestyle.
SHARE THE LOVE: SUPPORT THE OCEANRIDERS PODCAST
The Oceanriders Podcast is a passion project and, if you like it, you can support it in a number of ways:
Number 1: Share your love for this podcast on iTunes by giving it a few stars, or a review. Better still, subscribe. Anything in this direction increases my ranking and lets more people hear about my fascinating guests and how they are busting the surfing stereotype
Number 2: Comment, and join the conversation on social media. You will find links to my social media accounts on theoceanriderspodcast.com
Alternatively, you can connect with me on:
Number 3: Join me for an episode or sponsor my podcast! Just send an email to email@example.com with a quick bio and I’ll take care of the rest.
Number 4: I have created an online merch shop, called the Oceanriders sShop. It has a collection of t-shirts, sweatshirts, greetings cards, and wall art for all types of budgets, so be sure to check them out on theoceanridersshop.com.
Imi Barneaud: Hi everybody and welcome to The Oceanriders Podcast, conversations with creatives, entrepreneurs, thinkers and dreamers who also happened to be surfers. My name’s Imi and I am your host. How are you? How is your lockdown going? Have you been allowed back in the ocean? Actually, at the moment this podcast drops. It’s the first day we’ll be officially allowed out and I can’t wait to see the sea and possibly dip my toes into it. I’ve missed it so much. I don’t know about you, but today, I’m very excited to introduce you to my guest. Her name is Natalie Fox and she’s a fascinating surfer who’s had an incredible journey. In this episode, she shares her story of joining Sea Shepherd and campaigning in Antarctica, embarking on a life changing voyage from Plymouth to the Azores Islands collecting microplastics and analyzing data, and how her passion for surfing, and nature, and the oceans has led her to refocus her studies on sustainability from a scientific point of view, Natalie has created a lifestyle that will inspire many. She’s a yoga teacher and a surf instructor and spends the summer months living in her very own reconditioned fan. So I hope you enjoy her story. So without further ado, please welcome Natalie Fox.
Hello Natalie, welcome to The Oceanriders Podcast, how are you today?
Natalie Fox: I’m good, thank you Imi. Thank you for having me.
Imi Barneaud: It’s a pleasure. I guess for people who don’t know you yet, do you think you could introduce yourself to the listeners and tell us how you consider yourself as an ocean rider?
Natalie Fox: Sure. My name is Natalie Fox. I am a surfer, a surf instructor, a yoga teacher, and I’m also a master sustainability student studying the intersection between surfing health and ocean health.
Imi Barneaud: Wow. Okay. Well, this is going to be really exciting because we’ve got so many subjects to go into, to dive into, and things that we have in common as well, which is really nice. So I guess maybe we can rewind to the beginning and find out where you grew up.
Natalie Fox: Sure. I grew up in the middle of England in a place called Stanley, but it’s close to Stratford-upon-Avon. So very far away from the sea. I didn’t have any interaction with the sea until I was about 16 when I went on holiday to Newquay in Cornwall. I went to university and then it was after university that my life kind of changed at that point. I moved back down to Newquay to Cornwall.
Imi Barneaud: Wow. So what did you say? Did you say indefinitely?
Natalie Fox: Some of them turned out to be off and on for the next 10 years.
Imi Barneaud: That’s brilliant, and I guess, who had the most influence when you were growing up?
Natalie Fox: I guess it was that era of having a lot of freedom and I lived on the outskirts of the village where there’s a lot of farms, and I had a horse. I had enough to have that freedom to ride my horse around the fields and just disappear. So I think it was spending a lot of time in nature and having the freedom to do so. Those were my biggest childhood memories.
Imi Barneaud: So would you consider yourself as an adventurous spirit when you were growing up?
Natalie Fox: I guess adventurous and also quite rebellious, I would say. I had that nature in me to not want to stay in that village where I grew up, always want to escape. I knew there was something more exciting, more adventure that they’re always going to get out.
Imi Barneaud: So you studied media or communications at university, is that correct?
Natalie Fox: Yeah, I did media production for five years at college and my focus is actually horror films.
Imi Barneaud: Yeah. I grew up with them.
Natalie Fox: So the ocean was already starting to kind of filter into my consciousness when I was at university, and I studied [inaudible] for my dissertation and The Big Blue was a big part of it.
Imi Barneaud: Right, yes. It’s a very good film. And especially at that time it was the one of the first of its kind to be immersed in the water and for you to discover the underwater world, which is amazing.
Natalie Fox: Yeah. So amazing. I’d never really considered, or thought about, or heard about free diving, so I was just blown away.
Imi Barneaud: So if we’ve sort of fast forward a few years, how did you actually get into Sea Shepherd?
Natalie Fox: So the Sea Shepherd volunteering came from surfing. Actually I was working as a surf coach in Morocco and the international whaling commission meeting was taking place down the road in [inaudible]. So I’m sure a lot of the people that listened to this podcast have surfed in [inaudible]. And I was working at Surf And Rock in 2010, I’d kind of hit a point in surf coaching where there was a mindset to grow up and get a proper job. And a little bit of time out, even though I really loved coaching and it had amazing experiences. I felt some pressure to go to London and try and work at this media career, which didn’t happen. And I lasted about two weeks in London. Within those weeks, I’d started to research a lot about animal rights and specifically cetaceans rights. And they’d had an email from one of the surf mags with pictures of pilot whales being killed. So that’s the bloodsport in the Faroe Islands. I felt really activated by this and they started to send out some emails and think about what I could do to maybe be an activist. And this was quite early days with the internet, not really any social media. I think it was back from my space was–
Imi Barneaud: Right.
Natalie Fox: — communication, but I sent a few emails to surface visitations because they — active NGO to really speak on behalf of rights of the whales and dolphins. I didn’t hear anything back, but I did meet a girl on the internet who was up for coming to Morocco with me and coming to protest at the international meeting. So it was back in the day when there was no computer or anything like that, it was a bit weird to meet a stranger off the internet. We met and she’s still a really good friend, and it was an incredible experience. We showed up at the convention center and there was Howie from surface visitation, and Greenpeace, and Sea Shepherd, and I took part in my first protest and it was a real eye opener. That kind of point where you go from being apathetic to being an activist is quite a big transitional stage, I would say. Yeah, I just felt like everyday I was learning and it was new and quite intense and overwhelming. But it was really great because from that point I met one of the captains at Sea Shepherd and then they invited me to go on a boat to Faroe. So a couple of months later, I was on a boat heading towards the Fraoe to investigate the grinds and the pilot whales being killed.
Imi Barneaud: That’s amazing. So that’s how you got in, but you stayed there for awhile.
Natalie Fox: I stayed on the boat. They tended to do campaigns in Europe because they’re based in Australia. So that campaign was a couple of weeks. I was on the second leg and they told us that we couldn’t tell anyone what we were doing, so I didn’t tell anyone what they, including my parents were doing. And then an email later saying, Oh, by the way, I am on a boat with Sea Shepherds, but don’t worry, I’m fine. We’ll do a little bit of trouble with the Danish Navy boarding the boat, but it was all okay. And yeah, I think that was when I realized–
Imi Barneaud: Well, I definitely chose that. The NGO, that’s probably the most thrilling one radical move.
Natalie Fox: That was the attraction. And then, yeah, I ended up going to Antarctica with them in 2012, a few years later.
Imi Barneaud: Wow. And that’s when you participated in the campaign, what was one of the most successful Sea Shepherd campaigns. How did that happen?
Natalie Fox: Yeah, so it’s all to do with the Japanese whaling fleet heading down to the Southern Ocean Sanctuary to take Minke whales, which they, I mean, it’s very controversial because they have a scientific permit, but they’re not really collecting scientific data, it’s very contentious and Sea Shepherd are patrolling and intervening. That was actually the last DSea Shepherd campaign to Antarctica because of politics and a lot of things have changed within the international whaling commission. So at that time, it was quite high profile in the press, and Sea Shepherd had got a new boat, I was on the new boat, Sam Simon, which was a former Japanese research vessel, kind of ironic. And then the other two boats, our mission was to find the fleet and do what we could to stop them catching and killing whales. Because of bad weather and because there was an injunction against Sea Shepherd, those two reasons meant that this season was cut really short. So the less time that they have in Antarctica, then the less time they have to hunt. So that’s a good thing. And because of our presence, yeah, they only managed to get a hundred or so whales and their quota are 900. The campaign was zero tolerance, but it was still a pretty successful campaign. Like I said, things have changed since then. They haven’t been down, they’re still hunting whales.
Imi Barneaud: And what’s the day in the life of a Sea Shepherd’s crew member?
Natalie Fox: Yeah. So for me, I was working in the galley, I was cooking, which I really love. I got to be that person who made everyone smile. I would just ask people what their favorite sweet treats or their favorite meal was and we’d just try to keep spirits high with food, basically. Kind of what you do in a Covid lockdown as well. So everyone has got a role and depending whether you’re the captain, you have a lot of responsibility, or you can be on deck, or you can be an engineer. So yeah, there’s a diverse bunch of roles and everyone just working together in order to make it all function and operate as smoothly as possible. Obviously, there’s always going to be some drama. Food comes in handy to settle any sort of dodgy situations.
Imi Barneaud: I guess you become an expert in vegan cooking as well because I saw a conference with Paul Watson a few years ago and he was saying everything’s vegan on board and everything, there’s no reason not to be, could you save some real cool recipes?
Natalie Fox: Yeah. Everything we made was vegan and from scratch it was so educational. The head cook [inaudible] was Italian French. So she was amazing and she basically trained me. Yeah, I was baking the bread everyday and we were making ravioli, vegan ravioli from scratch. So many really cool recipes. [inaudible] has done a cookbook in their campaign and I think one of my chocolate recipes is in there.
Imi Barneaud: That’s brilliant. And what was the most memorable thing about your expedition to Antarctica?
Natalie Fox: I mean, it seems like a long time ago. It was eight years ago.
Imi Barneaud: Wow.
Natalie Fox: I think it was really seeing the majesty of untouched and pristine water and land. I mean, we didn’t go to the continent, we just thought of icebergs, but they never got old, they never got boring, they’re so unique and so incredible. And to just be that far away from civilization, you just feel like a drop in the ocean. But sometimes you’ve got that social kind of family aspect. So the other thing that was really memorable was the crew and the people I met on board, they’re amazing. Yeah, two things that I think are really important in life, just to appreciate nature and appreciate your community and your family.
Imi Barneaud: That’s lovely. That’s really nice. And what skills did you develop there that you’re using today after this experience?
Natalie Fox: Well, I think the experience actually made me pivot in my approach to conservation because activism is very radical, and I guess it’s quite emotional. I didn’t really have enough. I felt like I didn’t have enough knowledge or scientific background to back up what I was talking about. So after I came off the boat, I decided I wanted to look into educating myself properly and do a master’s course. Actually, that has made me go to the other end of the section to really try and critically look at these issues from lots of different angles, personally and emotionally. Of course, I know that it’s bad and wrong to kill whales, but I also like to be able to understand that issue on a much deeper level because there’s more things that play into playing.
Imi Barneaud: That’s really interesting. Very brave actually to completely pivot on your career and to start learning again.
Natalie Fox: Yeah. And I think coming from an activist background, we don’t have much credibility in the scientific field.
Imi Barneaud: Really?
Natalie Fox: Yeah. I have to keep it very under wraps, but it makes it interesting. And to me, learning experientially is so important. I guess it’s like surfing, you can’t really learn to surf by reading a book. You have to go in the water. So it really enabled me to connect to the issues and to really experience the threats on nature, ecosystems and species before coming into a place of reason and research which takes a lot longer to change.
Imi Barneaud: Wow. And is it through your studies in sustainability that you actually managed to join the expedition, ex, expedition? I don’t know how you pronounce it actually.
Natalie Fox: Expedition. Yeah, I had applied, so on expeditions a few years ago in about 2015 where they went to Ascension Island, and I think it was a voyage to collect microplastic data in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. So I couldn’t go, fortunately. I reapplied for this year when they just re-launched the Round the World voyage. So there was going to be 30 legs with 300 women, and they had 10,000 applicants. I was lucky enough to get on board for leg one, which was going from Plymouth to the Azores. And for me, that was really special I guess because I’ve learned to surf in Cornwall and South Coast, and now I spend my summers in Portugal. So I’d be ending up in — and coming back into the Portuguese waters. So it was great.
Imi Barneaud: That’s amazing. So could we focus on what ex-expedition is exactly? Is it a nonprofit or is it a scientific organization? How does it work?
Natalie Fox: Sure. It’s a campaign, I guess. It does a few different arms to it really. There is a science to it where we’re doing scientific research as citizen scientists, and there’s about 12 research projects that we’re collecting data for. And then there’s also the community outreach and volunteering aspect. So it’s really developed over the years, and this is their biggest campaign to basically give 10 volunteers this opportunity to go and explore and investigate microplastics in the ocean and ready to go through the processes of analyzing it as well, using really high tech equipment, scientific equipment, and then also giving us the tools to go back into our communities and to share the word about what we found and how we can potentially tackle problem that is huge, ginormous.
Imi Barneaud: That’s right. So basically, the voyage is taking the boat to all the massive plastic continents. Is that correct? That they’ve got a scientific name that jeers or something like that?
Natalie Fox: It looks like that, yeah. So there’s the five gyres, which are the accumulation zones of microplastic. It used to be called the, what was it, the garbage patch?
Imi Barneaud: Yes.
Natalie Fox: But after there’s been more scientific investigation, it’s more like a plastic soup because rather than the bits of plastic being huge and coming together, they’re actually really, really tiny and just all staying in one area because of the global current. So there’s five gyres in different oceans. The Round the World was visiting, I think three of the gyres, but they’ve already done scientific research on the other gyres. And there’s already quite a lot of research going on in terms of the gyres, but what they wanted to do was a comparison study. So the first study of microplastic accumulation in the oceans was really 10 years ago. So now when they visit all of these places again, they can do a comparison study to see whether that microplastic accumulation has decreased, has increased, has it moved to different places, and we can have a lot more information with that comparison.
Imi Barneaud: So what did you find out from your leg?
Natalie Fox: So much, so much. I learned so much when we were traveling across the Atlantic, we didn’t actually find a high number of microplastics in the surface waters, we only found 30 to a hundred in each sample that we would take. However, we did find microplastics in every one of our samples. So this kind of range and the spread of microplastics, it just made me realize that they’re really everywhere, and as they are persistent, and they stay in the Marine environment, and they’re most likely ingested by fish, then the toxins are then absorbed into organic life. This breakdown of plastic just continues and continues. So yeah, that was quite worrying. I mean, I had an idea and I did know, but I think just being there made such a difference.
Imi Barneaud: And you were actually, you had all the tools also to analyze the different plastics that were there that you picked up and the microorganisms that were maybe attached to them. Could you explain a bit more about that scientific analysis?
Natalie Fox: We had a few ways. The first one was how we would collect the samples. So there were three studies. We were looking to collect data on the sediment on the water column. But what I’ll talk about now is just focused on the sea surface. So to collect water from the sea surface, we would use a man to patrol that shaped like manta ray, filter the surface waters into a little bag and then we would take the bag out and collect the microplastics, count them out using a microscope because they’re tiny bits of fragments. It’s very hard to tell what polymer they are, but we had a machine which is called an FTIR machine and then rigged up to a computer, it will take a reading and be able to tell us what polymer that is. So that’s quite good in terms of tracing back where to what type of plastic it is and what industry it could come from potentially.
Imi Barneaud: So you can actually, you can trace it back to an end. That’s, that’s really interesting.
Natalie Fox: Yeah. One industry uses the main type of polymer. It just gives it a little bit more, well, microplastics is so anonymous, so it just gives us more to the story. That’s the tricky part.
Imi Barneaud: Yeah, that’s really interesting. So what was the majority of plastic? What industry was the majority of plastic from?
Natalie Fox: I’m not sure, but I think it’s HDP, so that’s anything that’s a hard plastic, like a bleach bottle or something like that. Yeah, it’s the main suspect. But really there was a range of different polymers.
Imi Barneaud: Wow.
Natalie Fox: The results in two years, so maybe I can come back and talked about the–
Imi Barneaud: Exactly, exactly. So basically, I guess a lot of us surfers are aware of how to reduce plastic and everything. And the point is to actually not use it in the first place, but what would be your tips to actually reduce plastic pollution from a scientific point of view?
Natalie Fox: Wow. I mean, this has been a calling to me for a long time. So at the same time when I started protesting about whales and dolphins in Morocco, there was also a similar narrative where I started to clean plastic bottles off the beach, this is mid 2000, and the idea and awareness about plastic pollution hadn’t reached the range and breadth of it now. So I’ve been thinking about it a lot for a long time. I really think that there are lots of different approaches that need to be applied in different ways to different levels of the problem. So one of the things that I’ve learned at the university is thinking about things in terms of assistance and they call it this — so that you’re able to take a holistic view of the problem. And in this sense, we would call plastic pollution a wicked problem because we don’t really know much about it, the extent of it, it’s constantly changing, it’s different. For instance, in the UK to the issue in the Maldives, the way that we deal with it in one place is going to be a different tactic than another. So overarching, I’m not going to say the solution, but maybe the way that we could approach it is through systems thinking. So that’s becoming a lot more called upon in the sustainability issues, I’m really big on systems thinking now. Those are hard moments where I was like, Oh, okay, we can get together, we can do this, gave me hope.
Imi Barneaud: No, that’s really interesting. And I guess the epitome of systems thinking, which would be permaculture. And I was wondering if you could give us your experience on permaculture, and how that initiates you to system thinking.
Natalie Fox: Sure. So I have done my permaculture design course, that was really eye opening to me in terms of living systems and how all the aspects of a garden, or if you’re growing food, or if you’re trying to live sustainably work together in harmony and you can really use the aspects of your sun sector, you can recycle water, and one of the big things is as zero waste. So you’re really utilizing all your resources. And I guess that was before I had been introduced to system thinking. And now through my university course, a lot of sustainability innovation and strategies come from systems thinking to tackle the big problems, the wicked problems that are like plastic pollution or climate change. But in permaculture, it’s basically using systems design so that everything works in harmony and you are just utilizing all of your resources. So it’s really small scale and living systems thinking, I would say.
Imi Barneaud: Okay, that’s really interesting. And I guess that brings me to the film that you were involved in. I’m sorry for jumping subjects, but the film that you were involved in, which was Undercurrent, could you tell us a bit more about this film?
Natalie Fox: Sure. So after I went to Antarctica, I came back to the UK and moved to Jersey. I needed somewhere quite small and safe by the sea to live, and a couple of girls are researching email surfing and Jersey, and they’ve got a crew of us together, we did some preliminary interviews and it was just going to be about women’s surfing and quite a lighthearted take on that angle really. But as it progressed, some more press found, threads came out through the interviews, especially with Arlene who was the European champion who’s based in Jersey and she’s in her 50’s now. She was going through these changes and re-assessing her connection to surfing. So it evolved really into the connection we have to surfing and our mind as well when we’re surfing. So the mindfulness connection to surfing, and it’s all female led so it’s the girls that have filmed it and edited it, it’s entirely female. And I think that’s really important to share that voice because, I mean, when I was growing up surfing it was very masculine. It’s very patriarchal and things have changed so much. So it’s just really nice to be able to share that more feminine style of surfing.
Imi Barneaud: Yeah, absolutely. And what was really beautiful in the film was actually how surfing really provokes mindfulness and living in the moment and awareness. And I just wondered what your opinion was on that side, if you had any feedback
Natalie Fox: In researching it a little bit actually, because I’m doing a retreat at the weekend and I’m doing, so it’s a digital retreat, I’m trying to incorporate this notion of flow. So the anatomy flows. So it really comes from this reset that’s been going on since the 70’s when we’re poised between challenge and scale or risk, then we go into this flow state, and surfing is like a perfect opportunity to go into the flow state because we’re not sure what’s going to happen with the waves. We have to be really intuitive. You have to be completely present, and it’s all about being in this flow state, and it’s just that point of bliss, once you’re in there, not quite ecstasy to just still fully present. So it’s more that, and I’m still exploring that. So yeah, it’s one of those places that I’d like to go back to.
Imi Barneaud: Yes. As soon as possible. And do you think that it was surfing that put you on this path of being an eco defender, and eco warrior, and research the sustainability research students and all these different roles that you have?
Natalie Fox: I think it is 100% down to surfing changing my life. Well, maybe it was destiny that I got into surfing, but it enabled me to think differently. And a lot of what if is explored in the film has allowed me to develop awareness of my feelings and it allowed me to develop awareness of my thoughts as well. So I was very prone to anxiety when I was starting out surfing because I just go off on my own and probably into some silly risky situations. But I’m here to tell the tale. So it was all fine in the end as you know, it’s the surf injuries kind of helps you build that resiliency, and it’s this amazing experiential learning that no matter what happens you learn something when you go for a surf. So it’s like this little mini journey in oneself. Again, like the permaculture, it was enabling me to experience and understand things a lot more in a complex way, like consistent thinking. You have to be able to think about the conditions, you have to be able to think about the waves and the shape of the waves and also what your body’s doing. So really I think that surfers are systems thinkers because it’s ingrained in us. We’re intuitive system thinkers because we’re thinking about things, and a lot on many different levels, and things are changing all the time. So we’re very, so yeah, it’s definitely 100% down to surfing.
Imi Barneaud: Oh, excellent. And do you think that that also has put you on the path to being a yoga teacher? I love what you were saying yesterday about teaching yoga.
Natalie Fox: Yeah. So I became a surf coach and then got my first job abroad teaching surfing in Morocco, and there are some really amazing yoga teachers, I did a little yoga then I started going everyday and then I realized there’s yoga teachers with surfing. In the morning when there was no wind, when there’s no crowd, always getting the best waves, coming back, like having the best time. I was teaching beginners working a lot and I just thought I need to become a yoga teacher or at least have the option to do both, if the waves are bad then I can teach surfing.
Imi Barneaud: Yeah. And that’s taken you around the world virtually with your yoga instruction.
Natalie Fox: Yeah, it’s been this kind of perfect marriage, and it’s been an amazing journey. I mean, I guess I kind of saw the growth, the exponential growth of surf yoga retreat. There were a few when I first started out and now there are hundreds, millions everywhere. So yeah, it’s been amazing how a lot of people have realized and accepted that they’d go perfectly together because they both are interlinked, like you said, about building that awareness, and you can work on the surfing while you’re on the mat and you can, yeah. They just compliment each other so amazingly.
Imi Barneaud: Absolutely. Yeah, that’s really interesting. And I guess there’s something that, I don’t know if you say that in French, it says red line that’s laying your life, but your eco surf yoga website, ecoyogasurf.com, that’s your website. What I really liked was how you view your websites in terms of your, it’s your home kind of thing. Do you elaborate on that?
Natalie Fox: Sure. I guess since I started coaching, I’ve been quite nomadic and I’ve been bouncing around the world. A few years ago when I got to New Zealand, I thought it’s about time to just make an online home so at least they could write down and keep a record of where I’ve been and maybe where I want to go and all that I’ve been learning. So it’s really this online home for all of my travels, my learning and my teaching as well. And it’s starting to grow with a lot more content, especially with the research that I’m doing for my sustainability masters. So it’s this perfect home.
Imi Barneaud: That’s fantastic. And mostly in the winter you’re in the mountains teaching yoga, and in the summer you’re in surf retreats, and you have a van. Could you tell us about your van?
Natalie Fox: Yeah, I have to be honest. My dad, I kick him out of it in the summer, he has my car. I mean, it’s making the most of our resources. It’s pulling our resources. He doesn’t need the van necessarily. And yeah, I put all my kids out and then I took it over to Portugal. So I just love the freedom and also the security. Actually, it was when I was in New Zealand a few years ago, I was doing a retreat and participating in a retreat, we were looking at our core desired feelings and what we really wanted to feel for the next couple of years rather than setting goals is such, I said I really wanted to feel secure and free, but it’s a little bit of a paradox, those two things. But I came back to the UK, or I think I saw that one of my friends was advertising, they’re selling a van so I bought the van and then I was like, Oh, this is it. This is freedom. This is the security in one. And then that van died and then managed to commandeer my dad, it’s kind of, yeah. But it’s a really great lifestyle for now, for sure. I really, I really love it.
Imi Barneaud: So what does it look like? What’s the van like inside and out?
Natalie Fox: It’s just a big white van, a big white French van. It’s a bit dentist and it looks very inconspicuous, which is great. But inside, it’s very girly. It’s within the clouds. Got fairy lights everywhere and a little kitchen, a very comfy mattress. That was the number one on my list of van kits. Yeah, and space for lots of stuff.
Imi Barneaud: Right. Excellent. That’s really, really important. And how did you find going through Spain to Portugal? Driving through, was that okay in a van? Because we had a van once and we had heard lots of horror stories about people getting attacked in car parks and things like that. Is it safe?
Natalie Fox: Yeah, I haven’t had any trouble and that she hasn’t had no trouble. It’s always only ever been positive experiences, but I didn’t feel 100% comfortable staying in car parks in Spain so I’ve just moved straight on. If I feel like the heebie-jeebies, that intuition of like, I’m not sure, then I’ll just keep driving. So yeah. And then before the winter, that was amazing. So I think it just depends. So yeah, I haven’t really wanted to explore Spain.
Imi Barneaud: Yeah. Fantastic. And I guess we’re getting to the end of this interview which has been a fascinating talk and love so much about why you travel and see what you’ve discovered and what you’ve learned through your different wages. And I was just wondering what you’re planning for the next few months.
Natalie Fox: Sure. So everything really comes together in terms of my expeditions, or the research that I did on expedition, and the research that I’m doing for my masters. I’ve just submitted my proposal for my major project, which is looking at the intersection between surfers and ocean health. So I’m really excited to actually get to go out into the field and collect research on the perspective of surfers and look at that ocean literacy. So this is seven principles of really defining how much you know, so it’s this base level of knowledge about the ocean. So one of my assumptions is that surfers are gonna know these seven principles, that’s what my part of my research is about. And then the other part of the research is also looking into microplastic accumulation in surf zones. So have this novel methodology and out going to [inaudible] in Portugal to do some samples and see how many microplastics that I find, hopefully. So the next few months is just getting that into place. But really just staying put and staying grounded for now until things are a little bit safer out there. And yeah, I’ve been ahead to just being a good citizen and hearing the guidelines, making the most of being in one place and not being distracted.
Imi Barneaud: Yeah. That’s beautiful. And I guess before we part, I have four questions I love to ask my guests, it’s sentences that you have to finish. So the first sentence is, I LOVE.
Natalie Fox: I love being in the sea. I love being in nature, but I think out of all of the natural habitat, the ocean is my favorite.
Imi Barneaud: I MISS.
Natalie Fox: I miss being in the sea. I miss the freedom of being able to go surfing in Portugal.
Imi Barneaud: Yeah,. Hopefully it will be lifted soon. I WISH.
Natalie Fox: I wish for time to really be a shift in humanity and that we make full respect for the planetary boundaries and the natural resources and work towards shared goals of social goods and global sustainability.
Imi Barneaud: Lovely. And the last one is I WANT.
Natalie Fox: Well, I want a dog. I have a neighbor’s dog that I walk everyday, so I’m getting practice but I would really like my own dog.
Imi Barneaud: That’s gorgeous. So I guess before we leave/recap of how to get a hold of you online on social media and your website, do you think you could recap it all for us?
Natalie Fox: So my website is www.ecoyogasurf.com. My yoga name is yogarama_uk. I’m teaching yoga online at the moment, hopefully that will continue remotely, hopefully on a beach in France, or Portugal, or somewhere. And yeah, reach out.
Imi Barneaud: Great. Well, we’ll put all this down in the show notes plus the film Undercurrents that you’re not being able to screen in public, but people can actually view it online.
Natalie Fox: Yeah, that’s it. Yeah, the trailer is online and you can also rent it online.
Imi Barneaud: Okay. Yeah. That’s great then. Well, thank you Natalie. Thank you ever so much for being my guest today and it’s been a really enlightening experience to discuss all your projects and all your different trades you’ve had all through your life, this wonderful feeling of adventure. It’s been brilliant speaking to you and connecting with you.
Natalie Fox: Thank you so much. And the podcast is really great. It’s been such an honor to be part of it.
Imi Barneaud: Well, thank you very much. Take care and catch a few waves once you can, stay safe.
[inaudible] on her story and the commitment and the joy of her adventurous lifestyle is bringing her, you can join Natalie on her website, www.ecoyogasurf.com. To find out more about her research and her personal story, connect with Natalie@yogarama_uk on Instagram.
And in any case, all the information mentioned in this podcast is in the show notes of your podcast app and on my website theoceanriderspodcast.com where you can also find links to the marvelous film Undercurrents that Natalie was involved in. The Oceanriders Podcast is a side hustle, and if you’d like to support my work, first of all, subscribe to my podcast on your podcasting app and you can also rate and review it on Apple podcasts. Second, you can help me pay for my hosting fees and my editor by getting some merch, ocean riders merch. In fact, I created a totally secure e-commerce merch store at theoceanridersshop.com, and I’m very excited to announce that I’ve got a new selection of limited edition t-shirts for sale. They’re all organic and fair trade, so by getting one of them, you won’t be directly contributing to the destruction of our natural resources. In fact, you’ll be doing the opposite and supporting fair trade practices. So check out the tee shirts online, links to it are in the show notes and also to support me. You can follow me on Instagram at theoceanriderspodcast. On Facebook at theoceanriderspodcast. And on Twitter at ImiPodcast.
Thank you, Natalie for being such an inspiring guest, and thank you guys for listening. Until next episode, take care, have fun, and enjoy the waves.