SwellWomen Archives - Women's Surf Camp

Testimonial of the Month

In: SwellWomen

Laura Oct NewsletterLook what Laura R from the UK has to say about her blissful SwellWomen experience ~

L:  When signing up to go to the SwellWomen retreat I completely underestimated what a life changing holiday it would be.
From the location in Maui, the Yoga location & instructors, the surf school, to the incredible new friends I made, this was a holiday of a life time! It gives you a time out and the chance to re-charge and re-connect with yourself.

Since my return to the UK, my time has been spent doing the following:

  • Planning all the destinations I want to go and surf
  • Watching ASP coverage as I am completely hooked.
  • And rather than feeling like I am in a race to achieve certain parts of life we are brought up to expect, I feel like I have the freedom to really enjoy each day in whichever way makes me happy.

I’m excited to see what adventure will be next!

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Katherine Headshot

This month we shine the spotlight on Katherine Wilder, Founder of The Wilder Way.  Katherine’s yoga journey began in 2001 with an invitation to join a friend for a power yoga class at the YMCA, that was all it took.  She left class feeling so expanded and free as well as intimately connected in her body and mind that she knew she needed to share this gift with as many people as she could.  In 2004, this desire to teach lead Katherine to The Nosara Yoga Institute in Costa Rica for a month long intensive of diving deep into herself and the teachings of the ancient system of yoga.  It was the first time that she began to experience these Universal Truths and a sense of  “remembering” that all of the answers have always been within. Her asana practice and self study deepened for several years which then lead her to the philosophy of Tantric Yoga through the Anusara Yoga method.  These teachings have had the most influence on Katherine’s life, yoga practice, and teaching style, unveiling the deepest experience and understanding of connection between the spirit, mind, & body. It is this understanding that fuels her teachings, Katherine encourages her students to remember the importance of having fun and how to play in the realms of the mind and body liberating the spirit.  She has learned through experience that creating proper alignment in the mind and body allows for freedom in heart.  It is through the power of these potent teachings that Katherine’s light playful nature lives and her classes encourage others to do the same. Katherine’s yoga practice and teachings have been accompanied by a therapeutic massage practice for the past 14 years, which shows up in her classes as a deep understanding of how the body works and lots of yummy hands on adjustments. Katherine is most grateful and blessed for all the amazing teachers in her life that have so openly shared their wisdom, passion, and hearts along this path of consciousness. She desires to share the same with her students.


SwellWomen…I introduce to you….the amazing & gifted Katherine Wilder!

Q: Katherine, tell us about your massage practice & what motivated you to start your business, The Wilder Way?

I have been blessed to be practicing therapeutic massage for 14 years.  After 4 years in the spa industry, there didn’t  seem to be much room for therapeutic bodywork or education.  So, 10 years ago I was inspired to start freelancing as I found that it offered more freedom with my scheduling, how I wanted to treat my clients, and what I could offer.  With the work I facilitate, the client/therapist relationship is very important to the work and healing process.  Freelancing allows me the time and energy to cultivate those kinds of relationships with my clientele.  Having a larger client base also keeps me motivated as the more people I see and treat, the more it seems people are very interested in learning about their mind body connection and how important posture and body mechanics are to them.  We only have 1 body, which is our vehicle for this lifetime, how we treat it is of utmost importance.  My style is unique to the industry, so this year I launched The Wilder Way which encompasses my philosophy with the therapeutic work I do and the type of yoga I teach.

Q: What advice do you have for women looking to find more balance in their lives?

My first bit of “advice” for anyone who thinks their life is out of balance would be to ask themselves, “Which parts of my life do I think are out of balance?”  and “Why?” We cannot shift until we recognize what needs shifting.  So first things first, identify what you would like to shift or change.  I would then suggest to categorize your goals into short term and long term.  With any changes to our lives, we need to be realistic as we are generally going to experience a little bit of resistance.  Also keep in mind that we want to create long lasting changes that will serve us in the highest.  There is a lot to be said with being gentle with ourselves, the “dictator mentality” hardly ever wins and is no fun!  The simple concepts of “We are what we eat!”  as well as “We are what we think” will go a long way! So balance in all aspects of the SELF ~ mind.body.spirit are of utmost importance.  I would also suggest  having fun along the journey, life is short!

Q: Tell us, as a yoga teacher, therapeutic massage therapist and surfer, how does yoga benefit surfing?

There are five benefits that come straight to mind:

  • You become more flexible, enabling your “pop up” to be that much faster & agile
  • The breath work in yoga keeps you calm in the water & when you wipe out!
  • It builds strength & stamina in the upper body to enable paddling to be more efficient
  • The pose of cobra & up dog is the same as when you “pop up” so you’re building muscle memory
  • It helps with balance & body awarenessKatherine Yoga 2

Q: What has surfing taught you about yourself?

Surfing has taught me to be patient as there will always be another wave! It has created a humbleness in me unlike any other sport as surfing is so incredibly challenging & the ocean so powerful that you always have to be aware and respectful of nature. Being in the water reminds me how awesome Mother Nature is and last but not least I can go surf all by myself, which makes it very peaceful!

Q: What are 3 things that give you bliss?

  • The sun, sand, and ocean, which generally lead to surf!!!
  • Traveling
  • Teaching and sharing what I have learned along this amazing life journey, as well as learning from others

Katherine Yoga

Words Katherine lives by…
“To live a creative life, we must lose the fear of being wrong.”
~ Joseph Chilton Pierce

Ladies, as you go off and about your daily life, be mindful to experience moments of joy. The joy of freshly washed sheets… the joy of a morning yoga session… the joy of time spent with laughing little ones.
When you’re ready for a an entire week of blissful experiences, consider a SwellWomen vacation in paradise. Find your bliss learning to surf the world’s best waves.  Check out our rates & dates!

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“Courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid.  Courage means you don’t let fear stop you”
– Bethany Hamilton

If you haven’t heard, On September 13, 2015 Me-Shell Mijangos sold her  11 year business to Lulu Agan.

SwellWomen meet Lulu Agan:

Lulu Sunset Surf

Lulu is a Private Chef by trade with four main passions in life:  Surfing, Yoga, Cooking & Wellness. Her driving factor is:  To Inspire and Be Inspired.  So when Me-Shell, a long standing friend, approached her with the news that she wanted to sell SwellWomen, it made perfect sense to pull out all the stops and find a way to carry on with her 11 year legacy.

Lulu’s goal is to live life to the fullest by doing the things that bring her the most joy.   With the purchase of SwellWomen she aims to inspire people around the world to follow their bliss which brings her to share some very exciting news.

SwellWomen Is Going International!!!

Mark your calendar SwellWomen as the first half of 2015 is already shaping into an amazing year of blissful retreats.  Our first back-to-back retreats on Maui will be ~ January 18-24 // January 25-31 hosted at the Sheraton Black Rock.  Lulu picked these dates as it’s Whale Season which is spectacular if you haven’t experienced Maui during this time.  What a way to start the New Year, right?   We will also be launching 2 new luxury retreats in Nicaragua ~ April 12-17 // April 18 -25.  We are still in the process of updating the 2015 registration process and uploading all the Nicaraguan details , so let us know if you are interested and we will email you as soon as possible with details.  http://www.swellwomen.com/about/contact-us

Lulu believes strongly in the beauty and importance of being empowered and empowering those around her.  Surfing and yoga feeds her soul and she hopes to share this bliss with women all around the world!

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Stand-Up Paddleboarding, also referred to as SUP-ing. SwellWomen is one of the only women’s surf camps in the world that also offers this fun-filled activity to our guests.

SwellWomen SUP

SwellWomen SUP Lesson

What does SUP-ing have to do with a women’s surf camp?

By offering SUP-ing, in addition to surfing, you have reason to extend your water time, all whilst improving and strengthening your surfing skills. We love SUP-ing because it offers a strong ‘core’ workout, and is a wonderful cross trainer for surfing. It helps with balance and helps tone the legs.

SUP-ing also allows our land locked guests the opportunity to cross train for surfing at home; visit your nearest lake and practice your SUP-ing there!

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Patricia Kwok is a New York fashionista turned entrepreneur. She combined her passion for fashion and her love of surfing to create a lifestyle brand of chic surf gear for women. We interviewed Patricia to find out how her business and love of surfing has impacted her life. 

*Summer Swimsuits Giveaway*

KEA is one of our awesome prize sponsors for the
SwellWomen Summer of Swimsuits Giveaway.
Get details and enter to win. 

> KEA is gifting the winner a brand new Byron Bikini valued at $160!


Q: Tell us about your brand, KEA, how did it come to be?

KEAKEA came about after I quit my job in the fashion industry in New York. I took a month long surf trip to Nicaragua and became inspired to start my own label.
KEA is a surf-inspired lifestyle brand for women who want to be active in the water but still look chic!

Q: What advice do you have for women interested in starting their own business?

I would tell them to imagine they had all the money in the world and then ask themselves if they would still be passionate about starting their own business.


Q: That’s a great answer. As a SwellWomen alumni, can you speak to your experience learning to surf in Maui and how surfing has impacted your life?

Surfing with SwellWomen in Maui was a great way to learn how to surf. The retreat offered great instruction and the beaches were beautiful. The group of women who attended came from diverse backgrounds and I still keep in touch with some of them 5 years on!

Q: How has surfing made an impact on your life?

As for how surfing has changed my life, it taught me to be patient (similar to waiting for a good wave) but also to be bold and act with conviction (like committing to a wave that might feel a bit too much). It’s kind of cool to live like you surf.

Tweet: “Be bold and act with conviction

like committing to a wave

that feels a bit too much.”

- Patricia Kwok, KEA


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SwellWomen Business Spotlight:: Carly Williams, The Sideways Approach via @SwellWomenCarly Williams is a health & lifestyle coach for from Colorado. Through her business, The Sideways Approach, she helps passionate women take an interest in their health, feel more energetic and find perfect balance in life.

For Carly, paddling out to a wave on her surfboard and snowboarding a fresh trail down a mountain is about going with the flow and reinforces the value of being present. We interviewed Carly about her business, surfing, and advice she has for other women …


Q: How did your background marketing snowboard, surf, and skateboard brands lead to you starting your own business?

A: Being in the action sports industry for over eight years allowed me to meet some really cool girls who are living out their dream of surfing, snowboarding or skating professionally. I was really inspired by these women and felt that the lifestyle that goes along with these sports can be incorporated into the lives of all females.

I noticed that each of these top athletes cultivate a positive mindset, healthy living, unlimited passion and a strong sense for adventure. I want to encourage all women to embrace these attributes regardless of where they are at in their life. I also learned a lot about marketing while working on so many great brands alongside industry leaders and that provided me with the business skills I needed to feel confident enough to venture out on my own. The rest is just purely riding on a dream to run a business I believe in and connect with women all around the world.

SwellWomen Business Spotlight:: Carly Williams, The Sideways Approach via @SwellWomen

Q: What has surfing taught you about yourself?

A: One of the many lessons I have learned from surfing is about non-resistance and going with the flow in all areas of life. In the water when I hurry and try to manipulate the surfboard into doing what I want I stumble and fall. Yet, when I breathe calmly, stay present and let the wave pick me up and guide me I go for a ride every time.

Just like in life when I try to force and push and pull things to happen I usually end up frustrated and confused. However, if I just go with it and do not resist what life has to offer, things beautifully fall into place.


Q: What advice do you have for women looking to find more balance in their lives?

SwellWomen Business Spotlight:: Carly Williams, The Sideways Approach via @SwellWomen

A: I think for all women it is important to take time and evaluate our current life situation and determine where we are off balance. I believe that the foundations of balance include, good nutrition, regular physical activity, healthy relationships, a fulfilling career, some sort of spiritual practice and community involvement. If we find that one or more of these foundations is a little off it is easy to balance it out again by slowly incorporating small, positive, manageable changes into our daily lives.

Whether it be adding more greens into our diet or finding a new outdoor activity that makes us feel good or taking interest in something we are passionate about just make sure to do things that bring ultimate joy and never ending adventure. 


Don’t miss your chance to WIN two hours of health & lifestyle coaching! Carly is giving away two hours of coaching valued at $300 to our September fan-of-the-month. To be reminded of the contest “Like us” on Facebook.

The SwellWomen Facebook fan who likes, comments, and shares our posts the most will win two hours of health and lifestyle coaching with The Sideways Approach. Participants must “Like” the SwellWomen Facebook page to qualify. Promotion is not associated with or endorsed by Facebook. Past winners are not eligible. 

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2014 Summer Swimsuit Giveaway!

In: SwellWomen

*** UPDATE: Contest is now closed. ***

You’re still welcome to join our newsletter using the sign up form below.


Who’s ready for a swimsuit giveaway? Three lucky SwellWomen newsletter subscribers will each win a surf-friendly bathing suit this summer!

Sign up for the SwellWomen newsletter here.

This summer we have teamed up with three amazing swimsuits designers. These companies design swimsuits with both surfing and women in mind. Even better? The women behind them are truly inspiring!

SwellWomen Summer Swimsuit Giveaway

> Mi Ola is giving away a $200 gift certificate to one of the winners!

Mi Ola Seven year ago, Helena Fogarty attended a SwellWomen retreat that changed her life.  Helena is a New York fashionista who swapped her heels for flip flops and created Mi Ola. Sexy Bikinis that Stay On. Mi Ola swimsuits have been designed to provide active women a functional, yet sexy look.  Each style has also been wave tested and approved by real surfers. Take a look at these beautiful swimsuits at Mi-Ola.com

> KEA is gifting the winner a brand new Byron Bikini valued at $160!

KEA: SwellWomen Alumni, Patricia Kwok, is launching KEA this summer. The concept behind the urban surfwear line is “inspired by the city and made for the ocean.”  KEA styles are designed for female surfers who prefer a minimal and sleek look that’s also functional. Check out their Facebook page here.

> Sunsets Separates invites the winner to pick any in-stock swimsuit from their website valued at $100-$150!

Sunsets Separates: Great brands like Sunsets Separates are known to make bathing suits from the finest fabrics and are engineered to increase flexibility and strength. Sunsets Separates caters to a diverse range of customers from juniors to full figured with their bra sized, impeccably fitting tops. Peruse their collection here.

*** UPDATE: Contest is closed. ***

To celebrate a blissful summer, we’re giving away three of these surf-friendly swimsuits to the lucky winners!

The contest is simple, we will randomly draw one winner each month on July 1st, August 1st, and September 1st from the SwellWomen newsletter list. To enter to win one of these quality surf-friendly swimsuits, sign up for the SwellWomen newsletter here.

*If you’re already a SwellNews subscriber, you can sit back and relax. You’re automatically entered to win!

Spread the love by telling your friends and family to enter too! Here’s an easy-to-share Facebook post with all the details.

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SwellWomen Surf Vacations:: Finding Balance

In: SwellWomen

All the ladies love the yoga aspect of the retreat not only because it is rejuvenating, but because it assists in opening, and strengthening the body for our surf sessions. 

Surfing truly is a great workout! You can feel it in your shoulders, back, and legs. The beauty in doing both surfing and yoga is found in how they compliment each other.

The workout we receive from paddling and riding the waves makes our evening yoga session even more effective. It feels great to stretch our muscles, work on balance, and get in tune with our bodies. 

We are super blessed to have yoga instructor Claudia Micco here with us during our SwellWomen surf  vacations. She expertly guides us through yoga asanas and helps us bring awareness to each asana.

Here are a few photos from this week’s beautiful morning surf and sunset yoga sessions. If you would like to enlarge them, just click the thumbnail.



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When the ocean is calling, it can be hard to resist. The peacefulness of being out in the line up and in nature in truly blissful. Not to mention the joy of catching a wave and letting the power of the wave bring to shore. For these reasons and many more, excitement mounts as you get closer and closer to getting out for your next surf session. For some, the thrill can be so inviting that we lose focus on surf safety. There are 4 questions that every surfer should take a moment to ask before leaving shore.

What is the sea floor like where you’re surfing?

Is the sea floor soft and sandy, rocky-bottomed, or coral covered? This question is especially important if you are surfing in a new area. Coral and rocky bottomed location may call for reef shoes to protect your feet.

Finding my balance.

Danielle surfing the coral bottomed Breakwall in Lahaina sporting her surf booties. Read about her first surf experience here. 

Depending on what is covering the sea floor you may need to adjust your wipe out technique. Don’t miss our top 5 tips for how to wipeout like a Pro.

What is the surf like?

Taking just 10 minutes to observe the waves will give you loads of valuable information. You can identify where the waves breaking, the frequency of larger sets, and plan out your perfect ride. The surf can fluctuate day to day. A distant storm, high winds, and tides can all effect the conditions. This practice of asking yourself what the surf is like today will force you to take a moment to check in with yourself. Are these conditions you feel confident surfing in? Is there a pattern to the sets that will help you choose the best wave to surf? Trust your gut and always play it safe.

Weiahu Beach Park. Photo credit: The Maui News / AMANDA COWAN photo

Watching the surf at Weiahu Beach Park.
Photo credit: The Maui News / AMANDA COWAN photo

Where are your fellow surfers?

Identifying where the bulk of the surfers are can help you find the best break and avoid collisions. This is basic surf safety and a good foundation for surf etiquette. Often times locals or regulars will know where the safest or most reliable break is at a given beach. Look for a spot that will allow you to catch great waves but not put you in an overcrowded area. Once you’ve paddled out to the line up, take another moment to mind map where your fellow surfers are. This awareness can help you avoid collisions when catching a wave.

What obstacles are there that you need to avoid?

When standing on shore and watching the break, play close attention to any obstacles that may lay in the way of your blissful ride. Break walls, large rocks, patches of coral, and sandbars are all physical obstacles that you will want to avoid when surfing to shore. These will typically remain consistent for each visit. Also be mindful of rip currents, high surf advisories, or other warnings that can be different each time you go.

Surf Safety

Safety should always be your number 1 priority when you go out surfing. Knowing that you are taking all the necessary precautions will allow you to sit back and enjoy the bliss of surfing. For more surf tips check out these other surfing centered blog posts.

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How to Wipe Out like a Pro

In: Surf Tips, SwellWomen

Professional surfers get the most out of every ride – even those that end in a less than graceful way. The secret lies in knowing how to wipe out properly and then taking a moment to evaluate mistakes.

The Pros understand that a gnarly wipe out is part of the learning process. Hawaiian big-wave surfer Kohl Christenson explains, “I always figure that I’m going to eat it or get caught inside at least once during a big-wave session. If I don’t then I feel like I got really lucky or I wasn’t pushing it hard enough.”

Avoid injuries and get back on your board faster with these easy to follow tips:

1. Jump Back

Use your last moment of balance to jump off the board. Jump over the wave into whitewater or towards the wave off the back of your board. Never jump off the front of your surfboard as the wave could push it right towards you.


When jumping off your board into shallow water, try to land butt first with your legs up to avoid injury.

2. Protect Your Body

When jumping into shallow water, the best strategy is to land butt first and keep your legs up. This will help keep your head and ankles out of harms way. Keep an eye out for incoming surfers or boards and get low in the water to avoid the impact of the wave.

3. Relax

Once you’re in the water, you may get tumbled by the force of the passing waves. Cover your head, hold your breath, and let the wave roll past you. If the water is clear, you may even open your eyes to keep a lookout for rocks.

4. Come Up Slow

Come up slowly with one hand extended overhead. This will help you avoid bumping your head on floating surfboards and allow other surfers to spot you. Watch for fellow surfers, stray boards (including your own), and other obstacles when popping up for air.

5.  Retrieve Your Board

Swim to your surfboard or use your leash to pull it towards you. Climb onto the board and paddle into the safe zone. Once you’re clear of the active surfing zone, you should take a moment to think about what caused you to wipe out and how you can improve.

Wiping out is part of the learning process. These 5 simple steps can help you stay safe while surfing. And remember, to get the most out of each surf session be aware of what caused you to lose balance in the first place.

For more wipe out fun, take a moment to check out these 10 gnarly surf wipe outs.

Kohl Christensen Surf Quote

Stay safe and happy surfing!

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Our mission is to provide inspiration for growth and renewal through surfing and yoga on the beautiful island of Maui. Read our blog or subscribe to our feeds and newsletter to prepare for your surf and wellness vacation or stay in the bliss if you've headed home. SwellWomen discusses surf, health and Maui lifestyle with news tidbits and useful tips.