Core/AB Exercises

People ask me about my abs and I’ve always said it takes a mindful, balanced, healthy diet and proper conditioning and exercise. Here are some of my Go-To’s for core strengthening and conditioning. For all exercises make sure you’re breathing slowly and steadily and working to draw your navel in the direction of your spine. Start slow and build your way up to the following work out:
Boat Pose – 30 seconds
Low Boat – 30 seconds
Row Boat – 5 on each side (hold each side for one breath cycle)
Boat Crunches – 20 reps
Flutter Kicks – 20 seconds
Hip Ups – 20 reps
Leg Lifts – 20 reps
Pike Boat – 10 seconds or until burnout

Tag a friend and let me know how it goes!

Tandem Surfing:

Another Reason To Hit The Beach This Summer

The sensations I’ve experienced as a tandem surfer are among the most exhilarating and exciting of all the activities I’ve ever tried. Anadrenaline junkie at heart, I’ve been known to travel to exotic locations and go skydiving and paragliding, scuba diving and hike volcanoes — always seeking any kind of adventure possible.

Spending time in nature is so important to me, because I always feel recharged and energized. Despite my busy schedule as a yoga teacher, writer and model, I’m still committed to making time for the great outdoors. Finding an outlet like tandem surfing created a fusion of my love for yoga, the ocean, adventure and travel. I’m always smiling when I’m out there in the water.Tandem surfing has captured my heart — there’s nothing quite like flying down a wave, being held in the air upside down and feeling the wind and ocean spray on my face while simultaneously staying focused both physically and mentally.

Many of the lifts involved in tandem surfing require you to stay strong through your core, while engaging the arms and legs and relaxed through your heart, chest and shoulders. Similar to a regular yoga practice, tandem surfing requires balance, focus, strength and flexibility. But above all, you’ve got to have a sense of adventure and fearlessness! The ocean is so powerful and dynamic — every wave is unique from the last.

Here are three reasons why I love tandem surfing. I hope this inspires you to give it a try — just be sure to find a partner you can trust and take some lessons from a certified instructor first!

Here Travis and I are surfing the wave together, about to do a bottom turn in tandem. To tandem surf there is always two people on one board. Imagine AcroYoga, but on a surfboard or stand-up paddleboard. One partner is the “base” and the other is the “flier.”

Together you’re a team and must establish trust in each other. My teammate and I lay belly down on the board and paddle out, choose when to go for a wave, paddle together with our arms to catch the wave, and stand up in unison.

We “drop in” (catch the wave and ride down its face), “bottom turn” (go left or right depending on the direction the wave is breaking), and then I get hoisted up into the air in a variety of lifts that can be done one at a time or sequenced together.

Practicing tandem surfing has been an amazing avenue to build trust in many facets of my life. There’s an art in the sport that revolves around strength coupled with softness, engaging some muscles and relaxing others, motivation and drive to catch a wave and surrender to the current of the ocean.

Trusting the process, in each other and especially yourself, is paramount.

In this sport we rely heavily on our ability to submit to the power of nature, the ocean, and the energy force behind a swell. When a “big set” (series of waves) comes through and you’re stuck inside the impact zone (where the waves are breaking) trying to paddle out, you have to be calm, strong and focused to push through the wave.

This is especially the case in the lift demonstrated here, known as “The Falcon.”

My partner Travis has the leash around his ankle, but I’m not attached to anything. There have been times when I’ve had to swim away from the board and underneath huge waves. This used to make me nervous, but I’ve learned how to remain calm and relaxed, surrendering to the force of the waves. I know that by remaining patient, I will eventually resurface and catch a breath.

There are times when we’re waiting for what seems like forever, for a set wave to come. Waiting for the right conditions requires a ton of patience. Maintaining the right balance between power and strength, or softness and surrender, are great lessons involved in tandem surfing.

One of the highlights of tandem surfing for me is how well-received and excited people get when they see us in action. I always have a smile on my face when I’m out in the water. I feel so in touch with nature and get to enjoy the beauty of it all around me.

To me, exercising and moving my body in ways that feel great, and providing some joy and excitement for those who witness our session is what makes the sport even more magical for me.

I don’t surf for anyone but myself and my teammate, but to know that it’s entertaining for others to watch just feels really good! I’ve gotten to know many amazing people through participating in and pursuing this sport.

You never know how much a smile or a “shaka” (a well-known hand gesture among surfers) while soaring down a wave, can positively affect someone else’s day. Whenever Travis and I perform “Sidebird” (pictured here), I know we’re uplifting our community and spectators and bringing a smile to their faces, too.

Connecting with others and impacting lives in a positive way is my mission in life, and being a part of the tandem surfing community only adds to that joy for me.

Photos courtesy of Ron Greene, Jerry Jaramillo & Danielle Falknor, via the author

5 Tips For Beginner Power Yogis

5 Tips For Beginner Power Yogis

crouching yvr copyAhlia Hoffman suggests these tips and tools for those new to power yoga who want to develop a strong, balanced, healthy practice.  Ahlia is committed to enjoying health and wellness and believes in cultivating a balance between what makes you feel amazing and what you love to enjoy.

1. Start with an appropriate level class.
2. Be kind to yourself, start gently.
3. Study yourself and how you feel as you practice regularly.
4. Savasana is so important!  Stay for it, and longer if possible.
5. Practice yoga off of the mat.balance yvr copy

  1. Start with appropriate level classes. You may already be in great shape, have amazing body awareness and excellent posture, but unless you know what trikonasana means and how to safely get in and out of that posture (and other basic poses), it’s important that you start in classes that teach the foundations of yoga: breath, postural alignment and engagement versus disengagement of muscles. Once you feel comfortable with the language, pacing, and structure of class – it’s then time to find classes that go beyond the basic fundamentals of the practice and into something that will meet your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. Starting a yoga practice is like learning a new language, at first everything seems foreign; from the sensations in your body to the way the instructor tells you to breathe. Eventually, with practice, you become more accustomed to slower paced movement, exploring and experiencing sensations in your body, proper alignment, and knowing when to contract or relax an area in your body.
  2. Be kind and gentle, go easy on yourself, especially once you start to feel like you’re getting the hang of it. There’s a fine balance in yoga between finding and exploring your edge and easing up to make more space. It can be easy to push yourself, especially with yoga practitioners around you who may have a more “advanced” practice. Often times it’s the exact thing you’re working to move beyond that’s holding you back – your ego. By pushing yourself to the extreme you risk other aspects of your practice being compromised, such as breath and proper alignment, which in turn can lead to injury. The purpose of your practice is to find balance, to drop into your physical body, and to practice being fully present in the moment. The purpose of your practice is not about impressing the people around you or compromising alignment in order to find the full expression of a posture. When you’re first starting out, be kind and acknowledge yourself for showing up, for having the courage to commit yourself to this practice as a part of your life.   Give yourself credit for doing the work, and also work hard to build the proper strength and alignment needed to progress in a healthy mindful way. When you’re a more seasoned practitioner, go easy on yourself as well. Give yourself permission to modify and take breaks. Take time off from your practice and let that be ok. Be kind inside your mind when you fall out of a posture, instead of beating yourself up over it. “Yoga is not about touching your toes, it’s about what you learn about yourself on your way down.”
  3. Start some kind of practice for self-study. Start to monitor how you feel throughout the day, highs and lows to your energy, how you feel around certain people and how you feel when you’re alone. Notice the types of thoughts that you predominantly think, observe the fluctuations in your mind and how this correlates with your level of productivity. Also notice how the types of things you consume make you feel. Do you eat lunch and then feel heavy, sleepy, and unproductive? Do you eat breakfast and feel great all day, but when you skip breakfast you get impatient easier in the afternoon? Can you notice if what you eat/drink relates in any way to how you feel in yoga class? Drinking water and staying hydrated is so important, and consuming dehydrating products can make you feel unwell during yoga. For example, having coffee and not enough water before class could contribute to feeling dizzy or faint. To that effect, we are mindful at Yoga/Vino Retreats so that you stay properly hydrated, especially with the amazing wines you’ll get to enjoy with dinner. Starting your day with warm water and a squeeze of lemon is a great way to kick start your hydration for the day, and swapping out water for juice or coffee later on in the day will lend to a stronger and healthier yoga practice. Notice how you feel when you drink more water, eat mindfully, and think positively, you will more than likely have a profoundly positive shift in your life and your practice both on and off of your yoga mat.
  4. Stay for savasana. Stay longer even, if time and space allows. Savasana truly is the most important posture in your practice. Everything you do before savasana, leads you to the time you spend there. Savasana, the final resting posture, is the time for you to fully integrate and absorb the benefits of your practice. Benefits of yoga go beyond the physical level. I often say in class that yes the practice is a work-out, but it’s also a work-IN. Whether you are aware of this or not, by slowing down your breath, turning inwards, and becoming present on your mat, you are also helping to balance the systems in your body, release tension, stress, and even unnecessary gripping in the body (ie: grudges, old wounds, self-doubt, etc). You are increasing your energy and vibration by dropping into your body and finding some stillness or silence in your mind. This amazing benefit of yoga practice happens with or without your knowledge or permission, it’s a bi-product of becoming present in the moment. Savasana is the epitomy of this, and is an opportunity to meditate and stay in the stillness and silence of the space you’ve created. Take advantage of this time, enjoy the opportunity, and stay fully present inside yourself.
  5. Practice yoga off of the mat. Ever notice that you have a sense of bliss after your practice? You feel lighter, happier, freer, and somehow have more clarity and direction. Yoga helps you rediscover things inside yourself like how being alive is a reason to be grateful, or how each moment is a blessing and meant to be fully experienced. Yoga is more than a physical practice, in fact the asanas (postures) are just one part of an 8-part lifestyle practice.  As you practice letting go of things that no longer serve you on the mat, you also learn how to set intentions or dedicate your energy to something outside of yourself to create and perpetuate positivity. You will inevitably get opportunities to practice this off of the mat as well, perhaps in traffic when you can dedicate some energy to the health and safety of the people around you instead of projecting negativity to other drivers. You can practice yoga off the mat by smiling at people, doing something to make someone else’s day without expecting anything in return, treating yourself and others kindly and with compassion as an example of what you wish to attract into your life, or being patient and taking a few deep steady breaths instead of reacting to a conflict or challenging situation. Taking yoga off of the mat and into your life is such an important aspect of the practice, and truly one of the great purposes and points of yoga. By being mindful, practicing peacefulness, and staying present in the moment during class time, you are training and conditioning yourself in order to do the same when you leave the yoga studio. No matter how long you have been practicing, it’s also important to remember tip #2. No one is perfect, we all face challenging times, and staying light hearted and easy on yourself will prove to help you accept when you make mistakes, integrate and put into action any lessons you can take away from the circumstance, then release it into the past and move on. Practicing yoga off the mat gives you the space to be unapologetically authentic, stay true to you, and move in the direction of your heart.

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5 Tools For Contentment And Happiness

5 Tools For Contentment And Happiness


There have been times when I wasn’t sure how to pull myself out from under a dark cloud, and found myself attached to gloominess and suffering due to challenging circumstances. I decided to make lifestyle changes to create more contentment and happiness and paid close attention to what worked. Here are simple tools I’ve found effective for cultivating contentment and happiness no matter what circumstances are occurring in life.

  1. Observe the fluctuations of the mind and the quality of thoughts. We become aware of our thoughts by noticing the fluctuations that occur from day to day, moment to moment. I started to notice and observe the mental tape that was playing and the negative patterns. By acknowledging one’s strengths, efforts, and courage, the energy in and around us becomes more positive and uplifted. This practice helped me see the beauty, gifts and talents, and the aspects that make us all individuals, perfect and unique just as we are. Start to train the mind to be kind, loving, and practice non-judgment towards ourselves and towards others. This is a practice and it takes time. The first step is to witness and observe any negative patterns of thinking. Then consciously choose to redirect thoughts until a more positive and uplifting state of mind becomes the norm.updog
  1. Learn and celebrate what makes the body feel comfortable and happy. Find little ways throughout the day to recognize when you do something special to celebrate life. Acknowledge what activities help inspire a feeling of celebration and actively realize that the benefits are doing something wonderful! I love taking a hot shower at the end of a long day of teaching yoga. I recognize how good it feels to let hot water relax my tired muscles and actively visualize the shower washing away any tension or stress that accumulated throughout the day. Noticing these things contributes to my happiness, sense of contentment and fulfillment.Namaste Smile
  1. Look in rather than outside for fulfillment. It can be a nice change of pace to take time alone and really tune in and listen. I decided to actively become my own great partner and friend. By turning some of the energy I would have put towards a relationship with someone else towards establishing a strong relationship with myself I discovered an amazing opportunity to learn and practice self-love. Often times it’s helpful to start a meditation practice and/or start journaling. Keep track of what comes up and the changes that start to occur.
  1. Be present in the moment. Acknowledge the past and any present challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. An attitude of gratitude for the experiences in life both good and difficult helps perpetuate and create more reasons to feel grateful. We all have a story, we’ve all been through tough times, but it’s how we maintain a positive outlook and perspective that keeps us flowing with gratitude and contentment through life. A friend told me once that if I were not strong enough to go through something then it wouldn’t have happened. Life can change in an instant, but to stay grounded and grateful in the moment, and have the perspective of acknowledging what has been overcome and accomplished along the way will help perpetuate a positive outlook and continuous evolution.3leg dog
  1. Be friendly. Radiate light happiness and joy, it will be attracted back. When I consciously chose to be happy it feels like I could beam it out of every pore. I realized that I could have a positive impact on the lives of others and increase the amount of joy, peace, and happiness in the world, something we are all capable of. Become a beacon for hope and love in the world and consciously contribute to the happiness of others, as we are all connected. I make an effort to share positive energy with a smile and friendly demeanor toward everyone I meet. We are on this planet and in these bodies for a finite amount of time. We have made it this far, an incredible accomplishment in itself. I take moments throughout the day to realize the blessing it is to be alive – and the privilege it is to get older. We all breathe the same air. What’s above us all at any moment is the same as what’s below. Revel in the magic that is existence and find the blessing in each and every breath.

Aboheadstandve all, I learned to be easy and kind towards others and myself. Life is a gift and each experience is an opportunity to learn and grow. When the going gets tough, thank life for the lesson and put one foot in front of the other making strides to reconnect to positivity, happiness, and contentment.

Ahlia Hoffman is a full time yoga instructor in North County, San Diego.  She loves to travel, lives for adventure, and is ranked 5th in the world for tandem surfing. Visit or to get in touch directly email or




Hello Yogis, Friends, World!

My name is Ahlia and I’m a world traveling, ocean loving, yoga teaching, full-of-life lady in Southern California.  I enjoy life to the fullest because I strive to live in the present moment and fill my moments with joyfulness.  Please enjoy this website and reach out to me if you have any questions or if I can inspire you on your journey.


Ahlia is the top half of Tandem Team North County, we are currently ranked #5 in the World.  Our next Pro contest is at the Duke Ocean Fest in Waikiki in August, 2015.  I am raising funds for this competition and am available for sponsorship.   See video at:

To reach out to Ahlia personally, please email

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