Doing yoga in the ARCTIC on a Russian research vessel

  •  MailOnline Travel did yoga while on an expedition around Baffin Island
  • One Ocean Expeditions offered daily classes on board its boat
  • The hour-long classes took place at 7am most mornings  

The invigorating Arctic breeze was blowing in my hair and as we hit a slightly larger wave, my downward dog required a little more core strength than usual.

I’ve done yoga in some pretty sublime places, from sunset rooftops in Morocco to rocky outcrops in the Caribbean.

But doing the practice on the decks of a former Russian research vessel, close to the North Pole, had to be the most breathtaking spot yet. 

MailOnline's Sadie Whitelocks took part in an Arctic yoga course, close to the North Pole

MailOnline’s Sadie Whitelocks took part in an Arctic yoga course, close to the North Pole

The session took place while I was embarking on a two-week expedition around Baffin Island, one of the most remote spots on earth.

The average temperature of the island – the fifth largest in the world – comes in at a frosty minus 7 Celsius, due to the whipping northerly winds. 

Luckily we were setting sail in the Arctic summer, where the weather stayed mostly above zero, with some glorious bouts of sunshine to boot. 

The ship program, organised by One Ocean Expeditions, included a daily schedule of kayaking, on shore excursions, educational presentations and also – to my joy – yoga. 

Arctic gales: The yogis kept bundled up as they took to the outer deck

Arctic gales: The yogis kept bundled up as they took to the outer deck

Big thaw: Luckily the passengers were setting sail in the Arctic summer, where the weather stayed mostly above zero, with some glorious bouts of sunshine to boot

Big thaw: Luckily the passengers were setting sail in the Arctic summer, where the weather stayed mostly above zero, with some glorious bouts of sunshine to boot

Setting sail: The ship program, organised by One Ocean Expeditions , also included a daily schedule of kayaking, shore excursions and educational presentations

Setting sail: The ship program, organised by One Ocean Expeditions , also included a daily schedule of kayaking, shore excursions and educational presentations

The classes were led by the ever-smiley Annie Lalanne, who grew up in Quebec, eastern Canada, but has lived all over the world. 

She did her yoga teacher training in Massachusetts before moving to Australia, where she stayed for 15 years.

Along with yoga, Annie also offered massages on board the boat.   

Asked what the trickiest thing about teaching yoga on board a polar cruise liner was, Annie replied: ‘When it’s really rocky, we can’t stand up, so I stick to floor poses.’

The hour-long classes took place at 7am most mornings, before the abundant breakfast buffet was rolled out.

Asked what the trickiest thing about teaching yoga on board a polar cruise liner was, teacher Annie replied: 'When it's really rocky we can't stand up, so I stick to floor poses'

Asked what the trickiest thing about teaching yoga on board a polar cruise liner was, teacher Annie replied: ‘When it’s really rocky we can’t stand up, so I stick to floor poses’

Bend and stretch: There were about six to seven of us - out of some 50 passengers - who were early risers and hit the mat each morning

Bend and stretch: There were about six to seven of us – out of some 50 passengers – who were early risers and hit the mat each morning

There were about six to seven of us – out of some 50 passengers – who were early risers and hit the mat each morning.

A mother and daughter from Brazil, a lady from British Columbia and another woman from Chester, England, were among the mix. 

For the first few days we stuck to the basement presentation room for classes, as the blustery Arctic gales weren’t conducive to outdoor escapades.

However, when the blue skies broke, we swiftly moved the class to deck seven.

It was a pretty glorious stint of stretching as we looked out over the endless ocean. 

Birds circled overhead and the crackling lapping of ice could be heard as the boat continued to push on.

Sublime setting: The average temperature of Baffin Island - the fifth largest in the world - comes in at a frosty minus 7 Celsius, due to the whipping northerly winds

Sublime setting: The average temperature of Baffin Island – the fifth largest in the world – comes in at a frosty minus 7 Celsius, due to the whipping northerly winds

Meeting the locals: Along with yoga, there was plenty of wildlife to see on the Arctic voyage 

Meeting the locals: Along with yoga, there was plenty of wildlife to see on the Arctic voyage 

As the class progressed, I had to take off my fleece jumper as I was getting too hot. 

Others opted to keep their woolies on, with a slight nip lingering in the air. 

The next morning, the swaying of the boat meant we had to resort to stretching against the presentation room walls. 

The 90-degree angling meant I could pack in some in some deeper stretches – something that came back to haunt me the next day.

After my Arctic yoga course I definitely felt as if some cobwebs had been blown away.

Throughout the 13-day voyage there was also no phone signal or Internet. It really was a spiritual experience!


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