David Flores is a writer, surfer, yoga teacher, freediver and more. He has developed his own unique approach to life that draws inspiration from nature, yoga and surfing, to uncover the mysteries of stillness, flow and the present moment.
Enjoy our insightful chat with David.
Hi David, what’s happening in your life at the moment?
Since I dropped out of college almost two years ago, I’ve been working on setting up a lifestyle that encourages growth and learning in the key aspects of my life, professionally, physically and spiritually. This is why I’ve set up a seasonal working, travelling and learning scheme in which I allocate enough time to surf, dive and teach yoga among other things.
Surfing season starts during the holidays in Ensenada, where I visit family and usually get a hold of a new board for the season, then I make my way down south to La Paz, where I reside most of the year and transition from winter north swells to southern early spring and summer cyclone season. While I’m there I usually teach some yoga and train in other disciplines, such as aerial dancing and freediving, which I picked up recently. The Los Cabos Open of Surf in early June is my official closing of surfing season, and I like going there because I get to share waves with the pros, so I always observe and try to pick up some technique and measure up to them in the water.
When the summer gets too hot to pay electricity bills and take on potential hurricanes, I fly back home to visit my dad and I work (shouldn’t be calling it that) at a SCUBA Diving center in México City and northern Veracruz in the Gulf of México, where sadly, the only waves we get are small fetch messy and unorganized waves. Anyways, I’ve been coming here for 5 years and I’ve been training to become an Instructor since. This is what I’m currently doing, and I really enjoy teaching people how to dive and being an ambassador of the ocean, meticulously preparing people to be touched by the magic of the underwater realm and Mother Ocean.
Entering into Fall, I make my way to California, where along with good friends, I enjoy road tripping, visiting secret spots in nature, meeting new people and being open to new experiences and opportunities like yoga trainings, workshops, festivals and whatnot. I like to go there because surfing the crowded colder water lineups remind me of the wild paradise that stretches more than a 1000 miles down south of the border.
Had any good waves lately?
The latest waves I had weren’t that great, I even dinged my board on my last session (which is good because I lasted 5 months without a single scratch), but I’ll tell you about the best waves of the whole season, we took a trip up north to Scorpion Bay where we hunted a pretty good swell and we surfed two minute ride right handers all day long for 3 days straight with the grom legend Odin Moore.
It was a bizarre trip because one of my friends dog got hit by a car and lost her life, San Juanico isn’t even a busy town, the streets are pretty much empty, but it seemed like fate dictated the spooky turn of events. We all got bummed out and I wanted to organize a little paddling out Hawaiian style circle-flower-throwing-water-splashing ceremony, but everyone just kind of zoned out into their own grieving process. It was then that I understood that everything is meant to happen in certain ways in order for us to learn valuable lessons and be grateful for the many blessings we receive, such as a canine companion and the best waves of your life.
Surf, Flow and Yoga are three of our favorite states of being – if you can class surf and yoga as a state, which I think you can. Tell us what each of these means for you?
Surfing as a state means that everything in the present moment will gravitate around that stoke of surfing, so it’s just easy and very zen like when you do things prior and after a surf trip, such as patiently and meticulously waxing your board or packing things up at night before rising up at 5 am so you can catch the best waves in the morning. Often I could see that the conditions of the lineup affect the state of the mind, so It’s pretty easy to feel peaceful and tranquil when it’s glassy, the period between waves is long enough, the take offs are swift and you just glide along the smooth lines you set on the face of the wave. The breathing is steady while paddling back out, and there is an indescribable contentment in the heart. Post surfing, you feel like there isn’t much you really need to be happy, so you just are, and you feel immensely grateful.
The same applies with yoga practice and meditation, especially in beachfront studios but not limited to your own bedroom. The phone is on airplane mode, the music is perfect and there is some sort of magnetic attraction between the mat and your body. In optimal states of flow, the body does sequencing (with prior knowledge of course) on it’s own and there is no need to worry about being properly aligned or doing a posture the right way. Every body is anatomically different, so yoga can’t possibly look or feel the same for all of us; It is worth mentioning that there are several styles of yoga and that a quick 5 minute flow before surfing is as beneficial for mind body and spirit as a 2 hour long restorative yin practice. It’s pure awareness.
The point is that there are many disciplines that can cultivate peaceful states of mind, heal the body and get the soul on the paths of awakening, liberation and illumination. Like the question entails, all we have to do is stop doing and allowing ourselves the bliss of simply being, which is the most natural thing we can do. Strangely though, allowing ourselves to be seems almost luxurious these days. But being is something that no amount of money can buy. Animals are the best example of this, just go out and observe nature and it will become clear.
People are hypnotized by the busy world of seemingly infinite possibility, yet often paralyzed by fear. How can people find clarity and peace?
My dad taught me when I was young that fear is only an idea, a potentially toxic one if it takes deep roots in the subconscious mind, which is constantly being programmed by our society to always be on the lookout for danger and hazardous situations or people, it’s the stranger danger mentality. So we also learn to build up this huge wall and we can only peek through little holes every now and then to see what’s on the other side. When we develop a loving and compassionate approach, free of judgments or labelling of others, to every situation we encounter, it’s like a hammer of clarity that allows us to strike that wall and remove huge chunks of fear bricks.
Whether we’re afraid of being ourselves, loving ourselves, being alone or maybe even chasing after our wildest dreams, it is very possible to take that wall down entirely and face life fearlessly. It’s easier said than done though, but there are very simple ways to start, like talking to strangers on the bus, trying out new foods and travelling abroad with nothing but the bare essentials and experiencing new cultures.
Embracing a new discipline can give you the strength to step outside the comfort zone and start seeing problems as challenging opportunities that encourage growth and acquisition of wisdom. It doesn’t have to be yoga or tai chi or even a martial art, try reading new books, signing up for interesting classes or listening to music that’s outside your habitual preference are great ways to start. Try meditation tapes or mantras instead of top 40 garbage.
All of these things that we can mindfully practice, will eventually cultivate creativity, passion and the fear will just dissolve in an empowering and rejuvenating sea of divine love, it’s the only kind of love that can defeat fear, and it’s universal, all encompassing, always there. In yoga philosophy we call it Krishna.
What got you started on this journey and what keeps you motivated?
When I was studying marine biology I felt the college lifestyle taking control of my daily routines and habits. It was always lots of stress and pressure which I would let steam off by partying too much so my body gave me some wake up calls, headaches, fatigue, back pain and even early signs of depression. So I moved to a new place closer to the beach and 5 minutes away from a gym. Yoga was about $40 a month, and full membership was $50 so I signed up thinking I would only do yoga every now and then and I’d become a protein shake drinking weightlifting gym enthusiast with high self esteem. However, I felt so peaceful and rested after yoga that I didn’t even feel like going up the stairs and being judged by the other buff guys. Eventually I changed my class schedule next semester so I could attend morning and evening sessions.
After a couple months I couldn’t even concentrate on class because I just wanted to do yoga so I would ditch class early and bike almost straight to the gym because I began to notice astonishing results and benefits in my flexibility, core strength and state of mind, which tremendously boosted my then mediocre performance in surfing. Some bureaucratically and academic nonsense caused me to loose an semester right at the point of no return of the program, the setback, which would add up to a one year delay of graduation plus whatever it would take to finish a Thesis was a wake up call from life… One day I just woke up in the morning and I knew I was done. It didn’t feel like throwing the towel though, it was more like a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders, like waking from a bizarre dream in which I believed that my life had to go a certain way, according to a certain plan.
After that, amazing books, teachers and experiences started coming into my life. Serendipitous happenings and opportunities just started popping up, it was so easy and smooth, I got a taste of what life should be really like, and I’ve been looking for more and more ways to connect to the generous universe and share that mystical lifestyle with the people around me. It all flows much smoother this way, and even though sometimes I feel frustrated about not knowing what’s right around the corner or how some problem might be solved, the manifestation magic happens again. New jobs, new friends, new boards, new mats. Life is constantly renewing itself, and if we let it, it’s a beautiful thing to witness.
As a teacher, what insights can you pass to people considering embarking on a journey of yoga, mindfulness or even surfing?
When I saw my first yoga teacher demonstrate scorpion pose and saying that it took him years to get there I had no clue I would train to become a teacher one year after that. Just a couple of weeks ago I could pull it off, and it wasn’t because I trained a lot or knew some tips and tricks that make the difference between falling off or holding such an intense pose. It was because I gradually peeled off layers of fear and I realized that it’s more about the mindset than the physical ability to do so.
Same thing with surfing, I thought that getting barreled was super hard and that only the very best could pull it off. Ok, some part of that is true, especially when it means making it look so easy to get deep and come out with the spit. But when my eyes first caught a glimpse of the lip pitching ahead of me and I felt the energetic vortex swallowing me (because I wiped out), I knew that I was in it for life. I just had to be in the right place at the right time. I’m not even the best of surfers among our crew of Baja loco locals, but I feel like I am further up the road of soul surfing, of connecting with spirit and the journey of self-realization through surfing.
Here is where mindfulness comes into place. Whatever your passion, whatever your favorite style of yoga or whatever your go to sport or nature escapade is, the journey of our souls has the same destination. There are many ways to get there, and the best way to do it is mindfully; Cultivating mindfulness can be as simple as developing a morning tea ritual, coming back to the posture and the breath every now and then through the day and making it a habit, make it so easy that it just happens on it’s own. It’s an effortless effort.
Here is a great metaphor of mindfulness that I often guide students through while they are meditating, It comes from “The forty rules of love” by Elif Shafak and a bit of Pema Chödrön’s teachings.
The mind is like a river, constantly flowing, always channeling water and it’s energy from one place to another… If you throw a pebble in, it will make a faint splashing sound and it will be muffled by the sound of the current. Throw a boulder in, and the water will just go around, like nothing happened.
Let the river of your thoughts and feelings flow gently down into a lake, through the breathing we invoke the power of the wind element, and we still that lake until it becomes a mirror, which reflects the big blue sky. The sky is your purest state of being, it is the soul itself, and everything else, like the clouds and storms, it’s just the weather, it’s just what makes the water fall down to the earth and into the river, it’s an endless cycle; Back to the still lake, watch as life throws a lesson at it, be it as small as a pebble or as big as a boulder, a circle will form around, and one more perfect circle after the other, sending ripples of energy across the entire surface of the lake. It will reach the whole shore and the furthest corner of the lake.
This is the true power of stillness.
Quick Fire Questions
Many rock and roll titles come to mind, but my favorite album is “The Sweet Nectar of Silence” by Kip Mazuy, it puts me into a deep trance and it would be the album I’d choose if I had to listen to only one for the rest of my life.
Which book would you take with you should you be deserted on a tropical island?
Again, many titles come to mind, but I’d take the Bhagavad Gita because It’s the ultimate and most revered sacred yogic scripture. Besides, it’s been sitting on my kindle for a while now, so maybe I should go to a deserted island on purpose.
Which person would you take?
Toughest question yet, not that nobody pops to mind, it’s just hard to pick one person… I would take a dear Norwegian friend I met in Yoga Teacher Training, she’s the only person I can be completely honest without strain, and she’s the only one I’ve been able to sincerely say the L word to, from the bottom of my throbbing heart.
Would you take a surfboard or pocket knife?
Definitely Pocket knife because I want to be able to feed and shelter myself. Possibly carve a surfboard with it and the help of some seashells. I could always bodysurf with the dolphins though.
3 words to describe the journey ahead?
Ocean, Destiny, Growth
Who inspires you?
I could name many chargers who surf big waves, modern yoga celebrities and old school spiritual masters, but I can’t just pick one, so I’ll go for my buddy Tyler Rowland from morehandsondeck. He has given up the normal lifestyle to reconstruct an old boat and go sailing around the world on a shoestring budget. I hope to join him soon to live like a humble pirate and surrender to the mighty ocean while hitting up the best surf spots and eco yoga lodges on the Pacific coast.
Finally, how can people discover more and connect with you?
For a full package, you can surf trough my website at surflowyoga.com
Check out my instagram pics and watch my daily adventures on snapchat, my username is “elsquid”