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Taking yoga on holiday

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I recently spent a week on a liveaboard halfway through an intense fitness training period, so I had to think of some ways to keep fit onboard. I packed my yoga mat, swimsuit and skipping rope with the hope to finding time to do all three. Little did I know how relentless the diving and eating timetable is!

First of all I wasn’t able to swim because each dive site had a risk of sharks patrolling the surface waters. Not wanting to come face to face with an oceanic white tip, I willingly complied. Skipping seemed a good idea at the packing stage but finding the space and time to do this outside of the hottest hours of the day was tricky.

Which left me with yoga. On all the days we dived except two (when wakeup was 4:45am!) I spent 20 – 30 minutes on the top deck waking up my body with sun salutations and a short breathing exercise. I’d come down to the diving deck raring to go while the others were still wiping sleep from their eyes!

An hour after the last dive, and before dinner, I spent some more time stretching out my shoulders, upper and lower back from the pressure of the heavy scuba gear. I also focused on core strength exercises for improved stability in the water. Although I wasn’t able to fit in any cardio training, I think that 3 hours of frog kick up, down and around reefs helped to at least maintain what i’d built-up in the weeks prior to my holiday.

So if you’re on a diving holiday this summer and want to keep body and mind in tip-top shape while you’re there, here are a few suggestions:

– yoga is best performed before eating so you may need to get up earlier, or delay the post-dive beer a while to fit in a session before food
– stick to seated exercises if the boat is moving, or rocking
– don’t use shoulderstand, headstand or other poses bearing neck weight in case the boat suddenly moves
– try to find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed

 

Guided Yoga Exercises

For guided yoga sessions you can register for the OMdiver yoga programme to receive videos (if you have WiFi onboard or at your hotel) and audio files (which you can download onto an mp3 player). Alternatively you can follow the seven exercises suggested below.

 

7 yoga poses for a liveaboard

Breath awareness

 

Spend a few minutes with your hands on your belly breathing deeply so that you feel the hands rise and fall. Breath in: bely swells, breath out: belly contracts.

Then deepen your breath for two minutes more by breathing first into the belly and then into the chest. To breath out let the chest fall first, then the belly. A hand on the rib cage can help guide your breath upwards into the chest.

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Cat Stretch

Position yourself on all fours – hands under the shoulders, knees under the hips. Breathe IN tilt the pelvis lift the head and the back arches downwards. Breathe OUT pushing your back upwards, dropping the head and gazing towards your navel. Repeat 5 – 7 times.

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Back strengtheners

From the position of the pose above, pick a point a few feet in front of you to direct your gaze to help with your balance. Don’t try this one if the boat is moving! Breath IN lift your right arm and left leg to shoulder/hip height. Breathe OUT bring arm and leg down. Breathe IN lift left arm and right leg, breathe OUT to release. Continue for one minute.

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Downward Dog

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This pose hits the spot on so many levels. Stretches the calves and hamstrings to relieve tension after finning. It keeps the ankles flexible for fin position. It eases tension from the lower back, stretches the shoulders and the arms. The action of the pose also stimulates the relaxation response so this is a good pose to do at the end of a diving day.

Side bends

Come into a cross-legged position. Breathe IN and slowly take your left arm over head as you bend to the right side. Go as far as is comfortable for you, until you feel a stretch in the left side ribs. Take 3 – 5 breaths here, breathing IN deeply to create an extra stretch in the left side of the rib cage. To release breathe OUT and slowly take the left arm back to your side. Repeat on the right side, taking the right arm overhead.

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Arm stretches

1) Breathe IN taking both arms up slowly above your head, clasping the fingers at the top and turning the palms upwards. Stretch up. Breathe OUT to slowly release the hands down by your sides. Repeat two more times.

2) Take your left elbow in your right hand and gently draw it over to the right side, slightly behind your head (you may need to tilt the head down). This stretches the triceps. Hold for 5 breaths

3) Then take the left arm in front, pressing with the right hand at the wrist to create a stretch through the top of the shoulder (deltoid) and tricep muscle. Hold for 5 breaths. Repeat 2 and 3 on the right arm.

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Twists

To finish stay in cross-legged position for a rejuvenating twist. Breath IN lengthening the spine upwards by sitting upright. As you breathe OUT turn slowly to your right starting with the base of the spine and allowing the rotation to spiral up the spine to the middle, upper back, shoulders and lastly the neck. Use your left hand on the right knee to aid the twist. Stay for 3 – 5 breaths. Breathe OUT to slowly release back to the starting position. Repeat to the left.

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Relaxation

Spend 3 – 5 minutes lying on your back now, feet out wide to the corners of your mat, arms slightly away from the body with palms facing upwards. Close your eyes and relax to the gentle movement of the boat. When you finish take your time getting up, stretch a little at first and then slowly make your way to sitting.

Equipment

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As you see in these pictures I took my yoga mat on holiday with me, which gave cushioning against the wooden floors of the boat and has an anti-slip surface. However if you don’t have space for a full-sized rolled up mat, it’s still possible to take a yoga mat with you. Many manufacturers are now selling thin full sized mats, or mats that can be folded, such as shown here. In this case they take up the same amount of space as a towel for example. If even that is too much space, you can buy grip gloves and socks to enable you to practice on any surface.

Rebecca Coales runs the agency OM Diver http://www.omdiver.co.uk/ and leads the Bristol Freediver group. She started Scuba over 20 years ago, and yoga in 2009. She started competitive freediving at the start of 2013 and has found both the physical and mental elements of yoga a huge benefit. On 31 July 2013 she set a new UK female National Record for Dynamic No Fins (DNF), which is underwater breast-stroke swum in a pool. That's 120m on one breath!

News

Jeff chats to… Underwater Photographer Ellen Cuylaerts (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Ellen Cuylaerts about her diving and underwater photographic career.

As an underwater and wildlife photographer, Fellow of The Explorers Club and having a front seat in exploration being part of the Flag and Honours Committee, Ellen is also a Member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame. She travels the world and tries to make the most of every destination and the path that leads her there. Ellen acts as an ocean citizen and believes as divers we should all be ocean ambassadors and lead by example. She is now based in the UK after many years in Grand Cayman.

Find out more about Ellen and her work at www.ellencuylaerts.com


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Huge thresher shark is the latest of six murals to be painted around the Solent this summer

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The murals celebrate the Solent’s extraordinary marine life – marking National Marine Week.

Secrets of the Solent have commissioned street artist ATM to paint a series of marine-themed artworks at various locations around the Solent this summer. The latest mural to be finished shows a thresher shark on the Langstone Harbour Office. Langstone Harbour is an important area for wildlife as well as a bustling seaside destination for sailing and water sports.

Artist ATM, who is painting all six murals, is well-known for his iconic wildlife street art. This, his second artwork of the series, took three days to paint freehand, from a scaffolding platform. The thresher shark was chosen out of six marine species to be the subject of the artwork by the local community, who were asked to vote via an online form or in person on the Hayling Ferry.

Secrets of the Solent hope the mural will become a landmark in Langstone Harbour and inspire visitors to learn more about this enigmatic oceanic shark. The project, which is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, works to celebrate and raise awareness of Solent’s diverse marine environment.

Aiming to highlight the exotic and unusual creatures found close to our coasts, artist ATM says: “I really enjoyed painting the thresher shark because it’s such an amazing looking animal, with a tail as long as its body. I hope when people see the murals, they will become more aware of what lives under the waves and the importance of protecting the vital habitats within the Solent.”

Dr Tim Ferrero, Senior Marine Biologist at Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust says: “The thresher shark is a wonderful animal that visits our waters every summer. It comes to an area to the east of the Isle of Wight, and this appears to be where the sharks breed and have their young. Not many people know that we have thresher sharks in our region, and so having our mural here on the side of the Langstone Harbour Office building is a fantastic way of raising awareness of this mysterious ocean wanderer. I really hope that people will come away with the knowledge that the Solent, our harbours and our seas are incredibly important for wildlife.”

Rachel Bryan, Project Manager for Secrets of the Solent at Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust comments: “We are really excited to have street artist ATM painting a thresher shark on the side of the Langstone Harbour Office building. We chose this building because of its prominent location right on the entrance to Langstone Harbour so that anyone who’s visiting, whether that’s walkers, cyclists or people coming in and out of the harbour on their jet-skis or sailing boats, will all be able to see our thresher shark. People on the Portsmouth side of the harbour will also be able to see the mural from across the water.”

The thresher shark is a mysterious predator which spends most of its time in oceanic waters. It uses its huge whip-like tail as an incredibly effective tool for hunting its prey. Herding small fish into tight shoals, the shark will lash at them with its tail, stunning several in one hit and making them easier to catch.

Secrets of the Solent hope to work with the species this summer to discover more about its behaviour.

Dr Tim Ferrero explains: “Nobody really knows where thresher sharks go in the ocean. Later this summer we are hoping that we are going to be able to attach a satellite tag to a thresher shark and monitor its progress for an entire year. This will provide really important information that will help us learn so much more about the shark’s annual life cycle.”

The new thresher shark mural is a fantastic start to National Marine Week (24th July – 8th August), which celebrates the unique marine wildlife and habitats we have here in the UK. Over the two weeks, Wildlife Trusts around the country will be running a series of exciting events to celebrate the marine environment. We really hope people will be inspired by our murals and want to learn more about each chosen species.

Events in the Solent include the launch of a new Solent marine film on the 29th July, installation of a new Seabin on the 4th August to reduce marine litter, and citizen science surveys throughout summer.

For more information click here.

Header image: Bret Charman

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Competitions

Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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