Thursday February 5, 2015
I am not a ‘Yogi’. Neither a bear or a practitioner of yoga. I always tell myself I’ve wanted to be. It looks graceful and serene and I know it’s packed full of benefits that would be very useful to me. But every time I tried to get into it, which always happened to be back on land incidentally, life always got in the way and it just never happened. Moving onto a boat, I assumed it never would.
But this is where I’m very wrong. It turns out that yoga can be done on a boat, and having tried my hand at both land and sea versions now, I actually prefer this one much better. Possibly because the scenery of sitting outdoors in the elements helps to bring a feeling of peace and calm and at one with your surroundings. I never quite found that on my bedroom floor.
I was introduced to this new boat yoga lifestyle when my friend Jessica G of m/v Felicity, quite the Yogi herself, turned me on to Yoga Onboard. A very easy to follow guide of yoga poses ranging from simple to advanced, and all to be done on the deck or in the cockpit of your boat. In some cases you’ll even use parts of your boat to help you with the poses. This calendar style book, put together by the very talented Kim Hess, is about 75 pages of clear colored photos with how-to steps on each pose, and all printed on water resistant paper. Very handy for those of us who live a life surrounded by it.
I still haven’t gotten into this as much as I should or even want to, but on the days I do I feel so relaxed and unwound. My body feels better. My mind feels better. Any of life’s tensions just fall away.
Look at my calm ambiance, there’s hope for me to become a Yogi yet! All joking aside though, doing even just a few of these poses a few times a week does pack major benefits for your mind and body. Along with each pose shown in the book, Kim has also added the benefits from each pose so you can either target specific problems, or at least be aware of the benefits of what you’re doing. Did you know that a Standing Forward Fold will massage the stomach, help with depression, tone the liver and lengthen hamstrings?
With the help of my friend Jody, who let me practice these poses on her boat and acted as my photographer for the day, I’m going to show you a few of my favorite poses and also let you in on a few more. Just to give you a taste of everything inside this delicious little book.
*All text below has been taken directly from Yoga Onboard by Kim Hess.
Cat Cow & Child’s Pose
A few good beginning poses to open up your session with are the Cat Cow Pose and Child’s Pose.
Come to your hands and knees – wrists below shoulders, knees below hips, with a neutral spine
- Connect with your breath
- Inhale – lift the chin and sit bones, dropping the belly (cow pose).
- Exhale – tuck the chin and tailbone, rounding the back (cat pose).
- Repeat 3-5 times
Benefits: Opens the front and back of the torso, stimulates the spine and builds awareness of the connection between breath and movement.
This is a great resting pose that can be done between more challenging asana.
Begin on your hands and knees.
- Widen your knees just enough to rest the torso gently between your thighs.
- Place your sit bones on your heels, resting your forehead on the deck.
- Rest your hands either back by your feet or extended. Again, what feels good?
- Completely relax.
Benefits: Releases stress, increases circulation to the brain, elongates the back and spine and gently stretches the hips, thighs and ankles.
- Begin in mountain pose (feet hip distance apart, shoulders relaxed and down, arms extended down at sides). Step your right foot back.
- Both feet are flat with the front foot straight ahead and the back foot in a 45-60 degree angle.
- Bend your front knee, keeping the knee over or behind your ankle, taking the feet wider if necessary to allow the hips to lower adding strength to the pose.
- Both hips are facing forward, your heart is lifting and the shoulders are relaxed.
- Your arms can be on the hips, extended upward or using the lifelines for support.
- Switch sides.
Benefits: Relieves stiffness in shoulders and back, tones the legs and reduces fat around hips.
- Begin in mountain pose.
- Bring one foot to the ankle, calf, or inner thigh – avoid the knee area.
- Lengthen through the center of the body.
- Bring the hands to prayer.
- Breathe – then extend arms upward.
- Use the mast for alignment and support.
- Switch sides.
Benefits: Tones the leg muscles and gives one a sense of balance and poise.
- Begin on your belly with your elbows directly under the shoulders. Your palms are flat.
- Tuck your tailbone, lengthening the lower spine.
- Press into your elbows, creating length in the spine and space in the torso.
- Reach your heart forward as you bring your shoulder blades together.
- Eyes are looking straight ahead. Imagine the sphinx statues in Egypt.
- Relax the neck and facial muscles.
Legs Up Against the Lifelines
This is a great pose that can be done any time you want to relax.
- Begin by sitting very close to the to rail and roll over bringing your legs up onto the lifelines.
- The tighter your hamstrings are, the further from the toe rail your sit bones will be.
- Relax and breathe.
- After awhile, allow your legs to fall apart, letting gravity take over and giving your inner thighs a nice stretch.
This pose can also replace any forward folds for those with extremely tight hamstrings, giving them support while stretching, and keeping the lower back aligned and protected.
And these are only a small slice of what’s inside! There’s a whole slew of other poses, but I don’t want to give away all of Kim’s great work on my blog. But here’s other things you’ll find if you purchase the book for yourself: Standing Forward Fold; Triangle Pose; Heart & Back Openers; Head to Knee Pose; Firelog Pose; Boat Pose; Reclined Spinal Twist, and so many more. Kim also incorporates using sail ties for stretches, and modifying a few of the sitting poses with cockpit variations.
If you would like to purchase this for yourself you can find it here on Amazon, and you have the option to buy her how-to DVD. Also, make sure to check out Kim’s website, Tropic Yoga. You can also find the book and DVD on Kim’s website here.
So go ahead and try a few of these poses on your boat to find your inner Yogi. Living on a boat is not always the romantic paradise that it’s chalked up to be, but when any stress arises, hopefully these poses can get you back there. If anything it will at least be a good chance to take in a few deep breaths of that fresh ocean breeze around you and hopefully remind you of why you’re on a boat in the first place.