“Do you do Jager?” Lionel asked me in his South African/Australian accent. I had just met Lionel and his wife, Irene, during happy hour at the one bar in Fare, the largest town on the island of Huahine.
“Not since college,” I replied with a startled laugh, remembering the licorice-flavored taste of shots of Jagermeister at San Diego bars. Gross.
“But you really look like you do Jager,” Lionel said stubbornly.
“Wait a minute … what do you think ‘yeagher‘ is?” I asked cautiously, wondering if I’d become so relaxed that I looked perpetually pumped full of alcohol.
“You know, stretching and bending and stuff,” he replied.
“Oh, yoga! Yeah, I do a lot of yoga,” I said in relief, and then explained my miscommunication. Rob was laughing hysterically beside me.
Next up, Lionel asked if I’d lead morning yoga sessions on the lawn in the southern anchorage. He was an avid yogi, and had organized a few morning stretch sessions at different spots in Polynesia. Lionel hadn’t ever taught before, and was excited to have a new “yoga queen,” as he later nicknamed me. I, on the other hand, felt a strange reluctance to lead. I’ve found a new passion for yoga the past few months at sea, and it felt like a private passion. I wanted to selfishly guard my morning yoga energy rather than spread it out across unknown people.
Other people we’ve shared sailboats with had asked if they could follow my yoga routine. I’d led a few half-assed sessions on the bow for whoever else could fit alongside, or follow along from a neighboring boat’s deck. But yoga on a boat isn’t the same as yoga on land, and I was hesitant to be in charge of “real” yoga for people with various ability levels (not to mention various English comprehension!). That smacked of a job, which I want no part of.
But then I kicked my selfish self, and told Lionel “of course I’d lead Jager.” After a rusty first few minutes, I sunk quickly back into a leadership role. My mind churned quickly through the potential flow of poses. My eyes scanned the different participants for their comfort level. My hands made adjustments to their bodies. My mouth called out instructions on how to move, and variations to make sure everyone felt confident and safe in each pose.
It was great. Every morning at 8:30am, a fleet of dinghys would land on the white sand beach, and 5 to 10 cruisers would walk up to a grassy spot surrounded by palm trees. We’d lay out towels or mats in a circle, and I’d start the practice. I especially had fun watching the progression of the participants: Jim from Ireland who could almost touch the ground on Day 4. Mark, our shipmate, who could easily get into a headstand alone on Day 2. Jan from Slovenia whose hips opened like flowers in triangle pose. The German woman who had never tried yoga in her life, succeeding in crow pose. Moana, a local breakdancer from Huahine, who joined in to learn our balancing poses.
Like you probably already guessed, I received just as much energy from the group practice as I did from my private practice. It was a different type of energy, for sure, but just as potent. I liked the confidence boost it gave me, especially after being the follower and novice onboard so many boats the past few months. And I really enjoyed making people feel better in their bodies and their hearts, too. Next time someone asks me to lead yoga (or Jager, for that matter), I won’t hesitate to say yes.