Yoga for Sailors

Since its introduction into mainstream American fitness, the benefits of yoga have become increasingly apparent. From better balance to heightened mental awareness, yoga can make you not just a better athlete, but a better sailor. Boston area sailor and yogini Nancy Bellantone has been developing onboard yoga routines for years, and she encourages her crew to practice yoga before races, even on
Author:
Updated:
Original:

Since its introduction into mainstream American fitness, the benefits of yoga have become increasingly apparent. From better balance to heightened mental awareness, yoga can make you not just a better athlete, but a better sailor. Boston area sailor and yogini Nancy Bellantone has been developing onboard yoga routines for years, and she encourages her crew to practice yoga before races, even on the way out to the race course. “The benefits are great,” says Bellantone. “Yoga can help the crew get mentally engaged. It increases agility and awakens the muscles you need to sail. It can also help with seasickness.”

In her routines, Bellantone incorporates the boat’s standing and running rigging, adhering to the adage, “one hand for you, one for the boat.” Try holding each of these poses for 5-10 breaths and use the modified versions for a simpler routine.

1) Full Boat Pose (Paripurna navasana) Sit in a cockpit seat with your legs straight in front of you, knees bent. Inhale, lean back slightly, raise your feet until your thighs are 45 degrees to the seat, stretching your arms alongside the legs. Spread your shoulder blades across your back and reach through the fingers. For a modified version, keep feet on the floor and lean back on your tailbone only slightly.

This pose strengthens the abdomen, hip flexors and spine.

2) Legs up the mast (Viparita Karani) Lie on your back with your seat near the base of the mast. Extend your legs up the mast, holding onto the halyards for support. For a modified version, place soles of the feet together and allow the knees to drop toward outboard sides of boat.

This pose relieves tired or cramped legs and feet, stretches the backs of the legs, front torso and the back of the neck, calms the mind, creates core stability.

3) Dancer’s Pose with sail tie (Natarajasana) Stand on two feet facing the mast and loop a sail tie around your left ankle. Hold the halyards with your right hand. Inhale, shift your weight onto your right foot, and lift your left heel toward the sky as you bend at the knee. Slowly lift your left foot up, pulling from above your left shoulder. Extend the left thigh behind you. For a modified version, only raise your leg to your comfort level.

This pose stretches the shoulders, chest, thighs and abdomen, strengthens the legs and ankles and improves balance.

4) Seated spinal twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana) Sit on a blanket at the forestay facing aft with your right leg straight in front of you and your left leg bent. Step the left foot over the right leg and stand it on the deck outside your right hip, left knee pointed at the sky. Exhale and twist toward the inside of the left thigh, left hand on the deck behind your left buttock, and right elbow pressing against the outside of left thigh; switch sides.

This pose increases spinal rotation and builds strength and flexibility in the muscles that support the spine.

5) Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana) Standing at the forestay, face to starboard with your feet 4ft apart. Turn your right foot in and your left foot out 90 degrees, aligning your heels. Turn your left thigh outward and bend your left knee over the left ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the deck. Place your left hand on the deck cleat, extend your right arm toward the sky, then turn your palm to face toward your head. Create a stretch from your right heel through your right finger tips and lengthen the entire right side of your body. For a modified version, rest your left forearm on the bow pulpit.

This pose strengthens and stretches the legs, spine, waist, chest and shoulders; also increases stamina.

Related

Radome

Ask SAIL: Some Random TLC

Q: I recently removed my radar’s white radome, which covers the internal rotating antenna. I gave the radome a light sandblasting to clear it of years of grime and discoloring. Should I paint it, too? — B. Anderson, Aberdeen, MD GORDON WEST REPLIES Stop! First, make sure the ...read more

L42-Sea-Trails-3728

Boat Review: Leopard 42

Sticking with its proven design formula, but also cherry-picking popular features from its recent models, Leopard Catamarans has launched a “best of” package with this new boat that sold nearly 30 units before hull #1 even touched water. Like a greatest hits album, the Leopard ...read more

01-LEAD-Cut8

Know how: Reinforcing Engine Stringers

If I were to ask, “What are the top five parts of the engine you want to be able to easily access?” How would you respond? Would it be the dipstick? The overflow coolant? I’d wager the raw water pump and its impeller would also make the list. Am I right? The reason we want to be ...read more

Sail-VOE-4-a

Experience: Under the Eyes of the Bar Bunch

Sitting quietly at the bar of a local yacht club, I gaze out over a rambunctious Lake Michigan on a sunny but blustery spring afternoon. I am enjoying watching a small sloop approaching the marina and recognize it as belonging to one of our newest members. “Pretty little thing. ...read more

01-LEAD-Bocas_Marina2

Cruising: Hurricane Heaven

As I write this, another hurricane season has passed. In hundreds of harbors and marinas, sailors are breathing a sigh of relief. I know the feeling since I rode out eight spinners aboard my sturdy 30-footer. I can recall the precise moment when I said, “No more!” It was in ...read more

J45-Podcast-vert-600x-02

Point of SAIL: J/Boats Inc. President Jeff Johnstone

In this episode of Point of SAIL, sponsored by West System Epoxy, Principal Editor Adam Cort talks with Jeff Johnstone, president of J/Boats Inc., the company that has brought the world such iconic designs as the J/24, the J/105 and the J/22, to name a few. In their ...read more

100719BTSC-9304

Boat Review: Catalina 545

Catalina has long been the largest All-American family cruiser company, building what sailors might call “standard” boats. Moving up from the popular 30ft to 45ft sizes puts the company into “yacht” territory, and the new Catalina 545, winner of the SAIL magazine 2020 Best Boats ...read more

01-LEAD-Rosie-G-under-bag

Portrait of a Boatbuilder

A couple of winters ago, I set a new course for my life by following my passions and interests. This in turn led me to boatbuilding. The reason why is I simply needed a change after working in a retail kayak shop a number of years. It was a great job that allowed me to develop ...read more