Keeping fit on board, especially on long passages, can be tricky. Once you are docked, you can always head off for an invigorating run or some reps at the marina’s gym.
But with guests aboard your only exercise may come polishing stainless or making beds.
So what's a fitness-minded crew to do?
There is a solution. It's something that only takes up a little space, doesn’t need complex equipment, and can show great effects when completed in 10- to 20-minute intervals just a few times a week.
Yoga. Yep, yoga.
How can yoga help you on a yacht? Well, particularly for busy yacht crewmembers, yoga helps stretch muscles and relax joints, increasing flexibility. You'll notice the difference when you're trying to get to those hard-to-reach corners and deep lockers.
- Here are some other yoga benefits:
- - Align and strengthen the spine. Yoga works out the kinks and soothes pain after a strenuous day.
- - Makes you relax and breathe deeply for stress-busting calmness.
- - Tones and strengthens muscles. It'll even make you look taller and leaner.
- Despite its reputation, yoga is not just for girls. Guys are pleasantly surprised by the benefits of yoga on yachts, as Tim Geering, the strapping 6’2” second engineer of the S/Y Maltese Falcon, can attest.
“The benefits of yoga…are that it allows you to escape from work and allows your mind to just focus on yourself for a while in a healthy and therapeutic way," Geering says. "The stretching that I do does help my agility and being an engineer and having to crawl into small difficult spaces, this is often an asset.”
Yachties who have earned their "sea legs" may even have a natural advantage when it comes to yoga, which you can credit to the constant motion of the ocean.
"When I took my first yoga class with a group of yachties, I could not believe their balance," says Krystyn Dennis, stewardess and yoga instructor. "It was incredible. Even first-timers could do the most difficult balances easily.”
So how do you get started? The best plan is to go to some courses first so you know what you’re meant to be doing. What we usually refer to as yoga is technically Hatha Yoga, which involves postures, balances and deep breathing.
Here are some sequences and postures that are great for beginners or more advanced yogis (check them out in class, online or from a book or yoga DVD.)
- The Five Tibetans can tone the whole body in minutes – and this sequence is even said to have magical rejuvenating properties.
- Sun salutations can be done at any time, but are a great way to wake up and get the day started.
- Camel pose opens your chest and keeps your shoulders strong while increasing your energy. Before you know it, you'll un-hunch your usual bad posture!
- Down dog provides a good all-over stretch, especially for those troublesome lower backs, hamstrings and abs. (Believe it or not, there is a six-pack under there: Why not share it?!)
A lot of people on land and sea start to practice yoga for fitness, but soon discover the added benefits of mental and emotional calm.
"Working and living with people can sometimes be a struggle," says Denise Dobbs, founder of HandsOmCrew.com, a website dedicated to placing yoga instructors and massage therapists as yacht crew. "But having someone who is aware of their thoughts and actions can help maintain emotional outbursts. Hatha Yoga helps to bring bodily urges, emotions, and misdirected willpower under control.”
So studying yoga is apparently great for your body and your mind. Have you considered what it may do for your career?
By focusing attention on yoga, you may just add another string to your bow. Further qualifications in the various yoga forms may get you work aboard one of the increasing number of specialist yoga cruises being offered on yachts worldwide.
And it isn't much of a stretch to say you may enjoy yourself – and the advantage of better health – as a result.
Do you have any fitness and yoga tips to share? Secrets to achieving calm and tranquility – and killer abs – while living aboard a luxury yacht? Share your comments below and be sure to vote in our poll.
www.handsomcrew.com – Matches yoga instructors to yachts
www.bwy.org.uk – Welcome to the British wheel of yoga
www.yoga.co.au – A good Aussie site with illustrated pdfs of postures