Learning By Doing on a boat – true yoga

Our High Tech Water Collection Devise!

I think our pets should be models, really……..but I’m ruled by my emotional connection I guess!



Views from The Canebrake in Oklahoma – http://www.thecanebrake.com



I’m often asked the question, “Whats it like to live on a boat”? Its a lengthly answer, and something I can’t quite explain simply yet. Now I’ve just started saying, “Its great. And its completely different from living on land.”  In a way, everything is different. And in other ways, life goes on as usual. We still get up, make coffee, feed the pets, go to grocery stores, get on line, etc. Life goes on in many similar ways as it did living on land. And, there are some things that are completely different like, paying close attention to the weather, how much water we use, keeping track of different maintenance issues than you would in an apartment or a house, learning to use our dinghy to and from shore, instead of a car for commuting, etc. On a boat you have to be much less attatched to “things”, (because there isn’t any space to have them) you have to be more resourceful and confident in your own abilities, and you MUST obey mother nature at all times! One of my favorite definitions of yoga that I first heard from Erich Schiffman is, “aligning with the infinite”. The infinite in my mind certainly includes mother nature and the elements. I feel that our life aboard has expanded my definition of yoga ten fold.

We have to pay special attention to the things that make our basic needs on a boat possible, like heating, water consumption, how to deal with our waste. Yes, our waste. A topic that I didn’t think much about until living on board. When you use the toilet, where does it go? On our boat we hold 120 gallons of diesel for our engine, 200 gallons of water, 100 gallons of grey water, and we have a 100 gallon holding tank. The holding tank is for the waste. We’re set up like this…..the water that we use to shower, brush our teeth, drink and do the dishes with goes in to the grey water tank. The grey water tank is then what we use to flush the toilet. That water, along with our waste, is then pumped in to our holding tank, or black water tank as its called. Once every couple of months, we either need to be off shore far enough that it is legal to dispose of our black water tank, or call a pump out boat from the area which comes and sucks it out. The pump our boats charge a nominal fee of about $5.00 – $15.00 dollars for this. It all makes sense, is logical and fairly simple. But the whole process sure makes me think much more about just how much water I’m using.

On land, while living in Los Angeles and in our house in Colorado, I took longer showers and definitely didn’t turn the water on and off quite as much while doing the dishes. On the boat, every drop of water we use either has to be brought to the boat or collected through rain water. Lugging water often isn’t a fun or easy task. I automatically use less water in order to conserve. While doing the dishes, brushing my teeth and showering, we turn the water on and off every split second or so to help use less water. While on land, I thought of using less water, but certainly not to this degree. When was the last time you turned your shower on, just enough to get wet, and then turned the water off, lathered up, and then turned the water back on for just long enough to rinse off? It may sound like a pain in the butt, but the trade off is worth it. We’re self sufficient, don’t pay rent or a martgage, and are certainly more environmentally friendly than ever before. (No, we don’t pay rent, but everyone knows that boats are a money pit if you allow them to be, so there’s a trade off!)

Recently, after we built our hard dodger on the boat and installed solar panels on it, we noticed that we had a ton of water running down the dodger and off the sides. Tobin set up a gutter, a spout, and we got hose to attach to the spout for when we knew it was going to rain. We simply run that hose along the side of the dodger and straight in to the fill for our water holding tank. Today, it was drizzling all day, but raining enough that in one day we collected about 3 gallons of water. Considering we use only 200 gallons in about 6 weeks, 3 gallons adds up. Especially after only one day of drizzle. It made me think today about how we could have done this with certain areas of our roof in Colorado and how much rain water we could have collected.

We filter the water that we drink and give to the pets, and the rest we use for dishes, etc. Everything changes in terms of conservancy when you actually have to physically lug water to your boat/house. Once you start doing that, you automatically start conservering like you never thought possible! Try it.


2nd Annual Mexico Yoga Retreat! Last year we had a wonderful retreat just outside of Puerto Villarta, Mexico. Its a short and accessible plane trip to the retreat center. Dates for 2012 are February 19th – 26th. For more information and to register please visit Rasa Yoga Center’s site at www.rasayogacenter.com – events/retreats. This special and intimate ayurvedic retreat facility only allows for an intimate group in order to receive individual attention, so sign up early.

The past two weekends I had the absolute pleasure of teaching yoga workshops and part of a teacher training at two wonderful studios – The Canebrake in Oklahoma, www.thecanebrake.com, and East Meets West Center in Vienna, VA, www.eastmeetswestcenter.com. I highly recommend both of these spots. Great people in wonderful, yet very different, locations!

November 28th – December 4th I’ll be teaching in Los Angeles at Exhale, Center for Sacred Movement, www.exhalespa.com, Venice, location. Please come to a class or workshop or e-mail me at jamie@firstrayyoga.com to set up and reserve a private session.

Please don’t forget to visit our Yoga for Cruisers site and facebook page – www.yogaforcruisers.com and spread the word of our yoga DVDs for sailors and boaters to your friends and family.

Safe travels and Happy Thanksgiving!


First Ray Yoga has a Beginners DVD, an Intermediate level audio yoga class and Series 1 of Yoga For Cruisers DVDs (three sequence set) If interested please e-mail us at info@firstrayyoga.com – soon, Jamie’s This Is My Practice DVD, sequence 1 will be available. Stay tuned.

On line, you can find two of Jamie’s live classes filmed at Exhale, Center for Sacred Movement in Los Angeles on Yogavibes. Please visit http://www.yogavibes.com, search for Jamie Elmer and you can purchase the downloadable classes.

 WHAT YOGA FOR CRUISERS IS – http://www.yogaforcruisers.com

Yoga for Cruisers is an idea born of necessity.  As we’ve moved aboard our boat, full time cruising, we have learned much and managed to work our bodies in new ways. Different than sailing on the weekends or jumping on the ski boat on a sunny afternoon, or even living aboard at the slip, full time cruising works our bodies in incredible ways.  Whether you are new to it, or have been around a few times, you know the demands that actively moving a boat has on your body.  And whether 36, or 66, it’s a lot of work.

For some of us, we’ve found that we’re not as strong as we thought we were. Or not as flexible.  Or not as quick.  Yoga can help.  Just like becoming a good navigator, or good sail trimmer, becoming a healthy body takes time, and practice.

That is where Yoga for Cruisers comes in.  If you think you’re too old or too young, too tall or too short, or your boat is too small or too big, it doesn’t matter.  We work with folks just like you. We practice on boats, on docks, on beaches, in hotel rooms. We work with groups, with one-on-one privates, with seniors (or boomers, if you prefer), with kids, with moms, with grandpas, even with the occasional dog.

With more than ten years of full time yoga teaching experience, we’ve seen just about all of it.  Give it a shot. Try something new, and feel the difference!

Yoga for Cruisers is a part of First Ray Yoga, our international yoga teaching organization.  Please see the page about Jamie Elmer for more information on her qualifications and experience. And visit http://www.firstrayyoga.com for a schedule of national and international events.


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