Journeys | A conversation with | Lauren Biddulph
Wanderlust Life founder Georgie Roberts and Lauren Biddulph first bonded during a chance meeting involving a botched Airbnb booking in the Mexican seaside town of Sayulita. Since then, Lauren has gone on to launch The Salt Sisterhood, a platform for women to come together over a shared love of the water. The aim is to encourage female solo travellers to feel confident about trying something new like surfing, cold water swimming or travelling to an unfamiliar place. Here she spills the details on favourite solstice traditions, travel destinations and essentials for rookie sea swimmers.
Where do you live and what’s your day job?
I’m a graphic designer and illustrator in Falmouth on the south coast. I studied illustration at Falmouth University and have been here for about 15 years now. I’m originally from the Isle of Wight and spent five years of my childhood in Florida, so I’ve always been surrounded by the water. I spent a lot of time coming down to Cornwall on family holidays to go camping and surfing. I’ve always felt really drawn to Cornwall. It’s got this magical, mystical pull.
How did you come to add yoga to your daily schedule?
I’d been going to Pilates because my friend didn’t want to go by herself. Then she said she wanted to try yoga as well, so I went to my first yoga class about seven years ago. My point of view was that it would be a physical experience to complement surfing by stretching out the muscles. But I remember my arms shaking in downward dog in my first class – it was so hard! The teacher was so good, and I just really fell in love with the combination of strength, flexibility and philosophy.
You’re now a teacher yourself – how did your fixation on yoga escalate?
In my life, I’ve suffered quite a lot with anxiety and depression, so from a mental point of view I found so much solace in those yoga classes. I feel like yoga equipped me with so many tools that it became something I literally couldn’t live without. So I was just going once a week to hit the pause button, get away from life for an hour and check in with myself. Yoga really introduced me to the idea of self care. Then it was quite fortuitous – a small yoga studio opened up literally down the road from where I live. I remember going through a particularly rough period, and a sign appeared about deepening your practice and learning more about the philosophy of yoga. I was like, “You know what, that’s exactly what I need.” I went into the teacher training with no intention of becoming a yoga teacher – I just wanted to learn more about the history and philosophy. But by the end of the 10-month course, I’d changed my mind really. I felt compelled to share it with other people.
More recently you launched The Salt Sisterhood. How did that part of your journey come about?
I’ve always loved to travel and have travelled quite extensively, so I wanted to combine travelling with teaching yoga. That’s how I got to work on a couple of yoga retreats and collaborate with people to do surfing and yoga retreats as well. The Salt Sisterhood is an idea that’s been growing for such a long time. The yoga aspect and the sea aspect have both been very transformative elements in my life, so I wanted to somehow bring those together in a therapeutic setting. This year I just thought, “Right, I’m just going to do it."
You’ve said that The Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols was part of your inspiration. What’s the book about?
It’s basically all the science of how being in or by the water has such a profound effect on the brain and nervous system. Most of our planet is water; it’s just this blue marble in space. Our bodies are about 75% water, so it sustains our life. A day at the beach or even just letting your eyes reach to the horizon has a physiological effect that makes us feel less stressed, happier, more connected and peaceful. I do think – for me, anyway – that being in the water is quite a spiritual experience. It feels like going back to where I came from, like home.
Is there a difference for you between the pool, a lake, a stream and the ocean?
My favourite is the ocean. I like the salt water and the natural world. I really like looking at all the sea life, so I’m an advanced scuba diver and have done my level one training in free diving.
What have been your favourite or most memorable places to submerge yourself?
The best scuba diving was the Red Sea. I remember the first time I stuck my face under the surface: I just thought, “Oh my goodness, there’s life everywhere.” That was incredible. One of my favourite places to swim is the private beach at the retreat house where we do the Salt Sisterhood. There’s not really anybody around and it’s surrounded by trees, so it feels really calm, peaceful and magical. For surfing, my favourites are definitely Mexico and Morocco, and obviously Cornwall. Our waves are really great – a bit cold, but that’s ok!
Did you celebrate the solstice in any special way this year?
The solstice in yoga tradition is quite auspicious. This year I went for a swim because midsummer is all about being immersed in nature, getting outside and reconnecting. And then my yoga practice on that day involved a lot of sun salutations. In the natural rhythm of the universe, I almost imagine the solstice as that pause at the top of the breath in yoga. I like to take advantage of that pause to think, “What do I want to invite more of into my life? What do I want to let go of?” So I set my intention on the solstice this year – to continue this theme of being brave.
Speaking of which – what’s your advice for someone thinking about going for their first sea swim?
The simplicity of wild swimming is that you don’t need a lot of stuff. And the beauty of going for a swim is that you jump in the car and can run in. To get over the initial shock, you need to just stay in for at least a minute. Then you’ll go numb! Have a little pootle around, build up a bit of a tolerance and stay in for as long as you feel good.