How yoga helped me scale a 65ft/20m yacht mast

It’s been a delightful (or dare I say ‘jubilant’) Jubilee holiday here in London. There’s been such a feeling of positivity and it’s great to see Union Jacks dotted all over the place.

Hoisting the Jubilee bunting
Moments before the bunting disaster

I, however, was not in London over the actual weekend. I was sailing in Sardinia but the Queen’s Jubilee didn’t escape us. Oh no, we dutifully hoisted our Union Jack bunting but everything didn’t go according to plan. The bunting snapped and our vital halyard (aka bit of rope) got stuck at the top of the mast.

Skipper cursed and we wondered how we were going to get it down. “I’m not going up there” and “I’m petrified of heights” rung out amongst the crew. Skip himself said that he’d only ever managed to get half way up. I said rather quietly that I was willing to give it a go. Heads whipped round and mouths gawped open.  “Are you sure, Clare?” they said. “Yeah, why not. I’ll see how far I get,” I replied.

Before I knew it I was strapped into the bosun’s chair (read: little seat and harness) and was armed with instructions and Skip’s trusty Leatherman. I readied myself at the bottom of the mast by closing my eyes and taking several deep yogic breaths. The line became taught, the bosun’s chair took the strain, I was on my tippy toes and then I was swinging up on my way.

Sad broken bunting

I mentally repeated my mantra in order to steady my mind and I kept looking up, maneuvering myself around the various cables, aerials and bits and bobs coming out from the main mast. Fortunately we were in a marina so the sea was calm but the higher I got, the more I felt the sway and my knees hit the hard mast a few times.

About half way up, the winching stopped for a few moments and I looked down. Thoughts of “oh my god, oh my god, what if ‘x’ happened, what if ‘y’ happened” flooded into my head and I banished them by chanting my mantra out loud. I chanted like there was no tomorrow. After a while, I then moved on to repeating peace mantras:

Om namo narayanaya daso ham tava kesava
Om dum durgayai namah
Om hrim maha laksymai namah

The chanting regulated my breathing and every other thought was banished from my mind. I found out afterwards that my friend on deck had said, “Erm, I think she’s chanting.” I was shouting mantras at the top of my lungs.

Before I knew it, I had reached the top and it was bliss. Ananda through and through. It was peaceful, serene and the views were to die for. I set the bunting free and was very grateful to have my camera on me so I can share the views with you now.

You can just make out the waving crew on deck
The best view in the house

I was very happy to make it back down to terra firma (or at least ‘boat deck’) in one piece and I honestly think that if I didn’t have my mantras i would have chickened out. The power they have to steady your mind is amazing. In everyday life, if I have negative or repetitive thoughts going round in my head, I repeat my mantra. Although Sanskrit mantras are meant to contain more energy, you could try repeating something like ‘let go’ or just a simple ‘om’ in time with your breath. It can be so meditative.

So what’s the message of this post? Surely it’s that mantra chanting can help you reach new heights.

Has yoga ever led you to do something unexpected? Has yoga helped you achieve something? Feel free to share below!