Snowboarders create surf, yoga retreat

My Surf Yoga Retreat is also about forgetting about cell phones and Facebook, says Caroline Beliard-Zebrowski. Courtesy of My Surf Yoga Retreat

Olympic snowboarder Gary Zebrowski and his wife, Caroline Beliard-Zebrowski, have turned their partnership of adventure and healthy living into an international business venture.

Launching in May, the couple's My Surf Yoga Retreat offers various trip packages aimed at getting people to shut off their cell phones for several days and go surfing, practice yoga, and basically unwind from the stresses of life.

Zebrowski and Beliard, both in their mid-20s and retired professional snowboarders who battled knee injuries common to the sport, have found renewed lifestyles and a potential career in surfing and yoga. Zebrowski, a Tahitian-born French American -- who finished sixth in the half-pipe competition at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy -- has returned to his ocean roots in Tahiti and France, where he teaches surfing.

French-born Beliard, on the other hand, discovered the health benefits of yoga while rehabilitating from injuries as a Vans-sponsored professional snowboarder who mixed her career with free-riding and half-pipe competition. Their next step was to combine their active passions into a new way to make a living. The couple split their time between France and Tahiti.

"By organizing these retreats we wanted to share our roots, culture and passions with others," Beliard says. "The boat trip in Tahiti is the best example of what we want to share with people: immersing them into the Tahitian culture, having them surf spots nobody could surf otherwise, going deep-sea fishing, doing yoga on deserted islands, and, yes, forgetting about their cell phones and Facebook."

According to its website, the 12-day Tahitian package costs 3,500 euros per person (airfare to and from Tahiti not included) and includes eight days at sea aboard a 42-foot catamaran among Tahiti's Leeward Islands. The day-to-day schedule includes yoga, guided surf sessions with a safety boat, whale watching, ocean paddling, fishing and spearfishing, snorkeling, and dining on local seafood and produce.

The trip accommodates up to eight passengers, plus crew, including yoga instruction with Caroline, and surfing with Gary (and an additional experienced guide at the famed village of Teahupo'o).

My Surf Yoga Retreat will also offer programs in Southern California and southwestern France, plus weekend yoga and snowboarding/skiing retreats in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain. Trips are designed for all skill levels and cater to solo travelers or groups.

"They could be beginners who want to learn to surf and practice yoga," says Caroline Graeff, a former pro snowboarder and the company's California contact. "Or for people who already know how to surf, they can find the waves they want."
"Ultimately," she added, "it's about adventure and wellness and getting the stress out of your life."