Downward dog on deck? New book shows you how

Yoga instructor Christina Ellis, left, and Beverly James are co-authors of the new book "Yoga for Boaters."

As she prepared to leave for a cruise from Seattle to Mexico with her husband a couple of years ago, Beverly James wondered how she could take along something she’d grown to love — her yoga practice.

“I wondered what I was going to do without my yoga classes,” James says.

There must be poses that could be done on her 33-foot sailboat, she thought, even if it would be a little cramped. Then James had another thought: why not put together a book that other boaters could use to incorporate yoga into their lives aboard?

James enlisted the help of her yoga instructor, Christina Ellis, and the result is their newly released book “Yoga for Boaters: Balance, Breath and Breeze.” The compact-sized book is filled with color photographs taken on James’s boat and includes about 45 poses with bulleted, easy-to-follow instructions.

The book’s various sections take readers through warm-up, sun salutations, standing and floor poses, and cool-down. A handful of more challenges moves are included, but the two women wanted to focus on poses that aren’t overly complicated and can be done in small spaces.

“I think yoga can be done in most places,” Ellis says. “This is a way to show people that it can be done on a boat.”

Christina Ellis strikes a pose onboard Mistral, Beverly James' and her husband's 33-foot Hallberg-Rassy.

If you think downward dog on deck is impossible, think again. Ellis says she didn’t need to modify most of the poses, and James — who is 5’11” and doesn’t like doing yoga on deck in an anchorage — says she has no trouble doing them down below in her boat.

For poses that call for arms to be extended overhead, she just raises her elbows above her shoulders and bends her lower arms down over her back.

James spent 14 years with her husband circumnavigating on their boat, a Hallberg-Rassy named Mistral, before returning to Seattle in 2001. She hadn’t done yoga before the trip and occasionally had back problems from all the lifting and contorting required onboard.

Yoga has strengthened her core, James says, eliminating the back problems. It’s also improved her flexibility and balance, both of which are important on a boat. Additionally, she says, yoga calms her nerves before upcoming passages and puts her in a better frame of mind to enjoy the time she spends on the water.

“It starts the day in a really peaceful way,” James says.

The book was released in early February and is available for $19.99 at numerous stores in the Seattle area, including Secret Garden Books, East West Bookshop, Eagle Harbor Books, Captain’s Nautical Supplies and Wide World Books & Maps, as well as on Amazon.

So far, Ellis says, the response has been enthusiastic.

“Everyone who’s heard of it has said it’s great,” she says. “It’s all been positive feedback.”

2 Responses to Downward dog on deck? New book shows you how

  1. Brooks April 30, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    Beverly is great! I have her book and it’s excellent – I can’t recommend it enough. It’s clearly written with great photos and above all, she has a deep understanding of the practice. Yoga comes from within, and Beverly understands that. She has a great energy. Get the book, change your energy.


  2. Dave Calhoun April 30, 2012 at 7:10 am #

    There’s another really good one

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