Yoga in itself is an extremely beneficial practice to do daily. It can be pursued by everyone. However, it can be restrictive when it comes to injured individuals, senior citizens, pregnant women, and people who suffer from severe ailments.
Even though there are popular yoga styles such as Iyengar Yoga, Restorative Yoga, and Yin Yoga, that use props to support the weak body, they can still be tough for individuals and give pressure on the body which can cause discomfort.
For such people, Aqua yoga can prove to be a boon.
Aqua yoga is an emerging form of yoga that is increasingly becoming popular, especially among people living in warmer climates or who have developed mobility problems.
Owing to this popularity, we bring you this guide to know more about this yoga style. In this article, we will discuss the term aqua yoga, the way it works on your body, the accessories you might need to practice, and some of its benefits.
What is Aqua Yoga?
Also known as water yoga, aqua yoga is the yoga style in which asanas are performed with some modifications in a water body. The water body can be a pool, bathtub, lake, pond, or sea. The most common place is an indoor or outdoor swimming pool as it is easily available.
In aqua yoga, aquatic environments are used to adapt the poses and tenets of yoga, such as breathing and awareness. Aqua yoga can include many aspects of yoga practice, such as asanas (poses), pranayama (yoga breathwork) and meditation.
Due to the effects that being in the water has on the body, aqua yoga is thought to be a particularly calming, peaceful, and restorative type of yoga.
Depending on the pose and the level of the water, different yoga poses can be adapted for aqua yoga. Poses can be practised with or without the help of equipment, accessories, or props.
Aqua yoga is a low-impact exercise that works more on boosting the stretch of your muscles. And when you perform any inversions floating in the water body, where your head is underwater, it will strengthen your lungs. Because inversions here require more of an ability to hold your breath than muscular strength itself.
Who can practice Aqua Yoga?
This yoga style can be performed by everyone. It is especially beneficial for the following (not an exhaustive list) conditions:
- Pregnancy and postnatal
- Old age
- Sore joints or back pain
- Hip and or knee replacements
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- People with difficulty balancing
What accessories do we need for Aqua Yoga?
Aqua yoga can be done as a stand-alone practice without the use of any additional props. But using some accessories will bring additional support and boost your balance in the water.
For support and increased buoyancy under the body, pool noodles are frequently utilized in aqua yoga.
Some people additionally utilize yoga straps, yoga blocks, kickboards, or inner tubes.
For those who want a little extra flotation support for balancing postures or who feel anxious or unhappy in the water, wearing an aqua jogging belt can be a nice option.
Ankle weights or buoyancy cuffs, yoga belts, pool dumbbells, deep water float belts, and pool dumbbells are additional props.
And since you will be practising in water, you also need clothes that suit your body movements.
Most people don a swim hat and a bathing suit, wetsuit, or shorts with a top or a sports bra while men can go without a top.
Wear water-resistant sunscreen and take into account additional UV protection, such as sunglasses and a sun hat, if you plan to practice aqua yoga outdoors.
How does Aqua Yoga work?
For aqua yoga, you need to stand in shallow water or at a depth where it covers 50%-70% of your body to keep your head, neck, shoulders, upper chest, and upper back above the water.
It seems easier to perform yoga poses in water, especially balancing or standing postures since the buoyancy of the water enables a load of weight to be removed from the joints. Finding the right stretch becomes easier as you concentrate on other parts of the body.
Yoga poses are modified in water yoga in a way that instead of lying on your mat you just float on the water surface, with or without equipment.
Aqua yoga lessens exercise-related soreness or discomfort which relieves strain on the joints. The muscles can be stretched and strengthened with a lower risk of damage because they are relaxed due to the body’s reduced weight in the water.
The benefit of this workout is further enhanced if the water is warm because it improves blood circulation in our bodies. It aids in muscular relaxation and tension reduction.
Also read: Easy yoga poses to improve blood circulation
Benefits of Aqua Yoga
Aqua Yoga is really helpful to your muscles and joints. The mental, emotional, and spiritual levels are also positively impacted by it. It is simple to execute asanas and stretch your body when the water is bearing the majority of your weight.
Some of aqua yoga’s well-known benefits are as below:
- Aids in reducing pain since the buoyancy of water lift pressure off the joints and muscles.
- Improves balance as the water supports your body weight and lets you work against gravity.
- Enhances perception as you learn and become aware of the movements of your body in a confined space.
- Increases flexibility by reducing stiffness and tightness through water pressure.
- Increased blood flow and reduced inflammation in your muscles and joints can both be achieved with the use of warm water.
- Strength can be increased by the water’s increased resistance to movement.
- Reduces swelling as a result of the body’s exposure to water’s pressure difference.
- Boosts core strength and postural control to lower the danger of falling.
- Enables those with weaker bodies to move since being in the water makes them feel weightless.
- Can improve flexibility, joint mobility, endurance, and quality of life in old people.
- Increases lung capacity and oxygen assimilation as the high pressure exerts constraint on the abdomen and restricts diaphragmatic movement.
- Lessens pain, regulates mood, enhances general well-being during pregnancy and strengthens the muscles of the legs and lower back.
- Improves sleep quality and symptoms of insomnia.
- You can acquire a profound state of relaxation and inner calm by concentrating only on the motions of your body and your breathing.
Water Yoga Poses You Can Try
Now that you know what aqua yoga entails, below are 6 aqua yoga poses you can start with. The poses have been detailed assuming you are performing them in a swimming pool.
1. Aqua Tree pose (Aqua Vrksasana)
- Stand near the pool wall and make sure you get a firm footing on the pool floor.
- As you begin to lift and bend your right leg, hold the side of the pool with your hand for balance.
- Place the right foot sole on the inside of the left thigh. Put equal pressure on both sides to maintain balance.
- Once you feel stable, let go of the pool wall and bring your arms overhead and join the palms.
- Stay in this pose for as long as you can or a minimum of 3-5 breaths.
- Repeat with the other leg.
2. North Star Pose
- Stand with your back facing the pool wall. Spread your legs slightly more than shoulder width.
- Based on your height, stand in the shallow part of the pool so that your neck and head stay above the water.
- Keep your arms extended in front of you or hold the wall at the back.
- After gaining some stability, bring your arms overhead and join the palms.
- Stay in this pose for 5-7 breaths.
3. Airplane Pose (Dekasana)
- Stand in the mountain pose near the pool wall and take a few deep breaths to establish your stability.
- Hold the wall and start bending forward till your chest and chin touches the water. Simultaneously, lift one of your legs, keeping it straight and stretched throughout the forward bending.
- Push through the heels and crown of the head on the opposite sides to keep the T formation.
- Keep holding the wall till your feel balanced and stable. Once you are confident, your can let go of the wall and place your arms beside your body.
- Hold this pose for 3-5 breaths.
- Repeat with the other leg.
4. Aqua Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
- Stand at the shallow end of the pool and spread your legs shoulder-width apart.
- Bring your hands in front of you to float on the water. Here you can hold a pool noodle to help with the balance.
- Engage your core and bend down slightly as if you are about to sit on a chair.
- You can either keep your arms extended in front of your or bring them overhead, along with the pool noodle.
- Hold this pose for 3-5 breaths.
5. Hand to Big Toe Pose (Padangusthasana)
- Standing upright, stretching out one arm to grip a noodle or the left or right wall.
- Bend the leg opposite the wall to bring your knee to your chest.
- Hold the big toe or the outer edge of the bent leg foot and extend it in front of you.
- Slowly and gradually, move the leg to the side maintaining a straight back and forward-facing hips.
- Release the wall or noodle when you’re comfortable.
- Maintain your posture and balance for at least 5 breaths.
- Repeat with the other leg.
6. Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
- Hold the edge of the pool wall with your right hand and move back till you are at arm’s length from it.
- Bring your right foot forward with the toes facing the wall. The distance between the legs should be shoulder-width apart. The inside edge of the back foot should be parallel to the pool wall.
- Turn towards your left and bring your left arm overhead as you bend towards your right arm.
- Stretch your left side while keeping your back foot firmly planted.
- After holding the position for 3-5 breaths, come back to the beginning position, then switch legs and face the opposite way.
Check this YouTube video for a free water yoga workout if you’re a beginner looking to get started with Aqua yoga.
Aqua yoga can be a fun activity to include in your routine. Especially during summers, it can keep your body cool and help regulate your body temperature. It also has a healing effect on your muscles and joints and will take away any residual stress and stiffness from your body.