Should dinghy sailors do yoga? What are the benefits?
A few days ago in Top Two Tips for Laser Sailors I posed a question. What were the top two tips given by a coach to a bunch of Laser sailors like me, i.e. aging, unfit, clumsy, uncoordinated, erratic, usually bottom half of the fleet, passionate Laser sailors? What things could we do that would give us the biggest bang for the buck?
The 7th comment got one of the right answers: work on improving starts.
And after a few hints from me, someone finally got the other tip in the 15th comment: yoga.
I was surprised at this suggestion. Not because I hadn't heard it before. But is it really one of the two most important things that Laser sailors like me can do to improve our performance?
Why did the coach give this answer?
I didn't really have much of a chance to ask him to explain the reasons for recommending yoga back in the airport bar at Puerto Plata because my friends and the coach were soon off on one of those discussions about boat handling at the start accompanied by much waving of hands to represent boats on the start line, what was referred to in this month's Sailing World as "bar karate."
Don't get me wrong. I do see some benefits from yoga. I have a series of yoga stretching exercises that I do sometimes after Laser sailing to ease the aches and pains of the day, and occasionally the next morning to work out the stiffness. My exercises mainly concentrate on stretching the lower back, quads and hamstrings.
And I have a couple of friends, very good Laser sailors, much better than I will ever be, who go to yoga classes. I've even seen one of them sailing a Laser standing up on one leg. Not that that's a very useful skill to have when racing but I guess it does mean he has much better balance than I do.
Could it be that the coach had been watching us sail all week and had realized that lack of balance and flexibility and agility in the boat was a major factor in holding us back from achieving our full potential? Did he think that time spent doing yoga would enable us to perform graceful, flowing roll tacks and gybes? Was he saying that, after a few yoga classes, we would be able to sail the boat downwind in waves in 30 knots balanced perfectly on the soles of our feet as we carved turns like alpine skiers?
Or are there other reasons?
What do you think?
Yoga pictures from Wandering Lotus.
Karate picture from Wado World.