Yoga has become mainstream in the U.S. over the last few years. Pick up any health magazine, browse DVD’s at the store, or hit the gym and you are likely to see a reference to Yoga, along with a declaration of its many benefits.
Even though the water can make some poses more challenging, it can make other postures more accessible. For example, poses that demand great balance, such as those where we balance on one leg, may be intimidating for beginners or those with physical challenges, but the support of the water allows students to feel safer since they don’t have the fear of falling. It is also easy to stand close to a wall during an aqua practice, where we have the option of using support. In a land-based class, it may be difficult to secure a wall spot, or students may feel singled out by moving off their mats to use the wall, but in the pool, the arrangement is much looser and students can more easily reach support. Poses that require a great deal of leg strength to hold up the weight of the body may also be more accessible, since our body weighs less in the water. We usually practice aqua Yoga at a water level between mid-ribcage and armpit, so most students will bear only about 25-35% of their body weight.
Aqua Yoga is a great alternative for students with physical conditions that may make a land-based practice more difficult. Obese, frail or pregnant students, as well as those with chronic conditions, such as fibromyalgia or arthritis, often find aqua Yoga a better fit. Buoyancy and hydrostatic pressure are two of the leading factors that contribute to creating a safer, more comforting environment for these students. Additionally, athletes and fitness enthusiasts find the cross-training option of a water-based practice beneficial.
Now that you understand the benefits of practicing Yoga in the water, let’s look at what it takes to get started. You’ll need training, a pool, proper swimwear, and, optionally, footwear and flotation equipment.
Training: If you’d like training for aqua Yoga, please visit www.WhiteCrowYoga.com
Pool: One of the most common questions we are asked is about pool temperature. If you have a therapeutic pool, it may be around 90-93 degrees Fahrenheit. This is nice for an aqua Yoga practice, but most places don’t have these pools, so we have learned to add movements that warm the body in order to use cooler pools. Most facilities where aqua Yoga is offered teach the classes in the same pool where water aerobics classes are taught, so we are used to practicing in water that is 83-86 degrees Fahrenheit. Our training program teaches you movements to keep the body warm between traditional Yoga postures.
Proper Swimwear: Appropriate swimwear is durable, comfortable, and stays in place. Chlorine resistance is a great benefit in a pool, and UV swimwear is nice if you are outside. Additionally, if practicing in a cooler pool, it is nice to have suits with more coverage for warmth. Hydrochic has a full line of swimwear to meet these needs.
Footwear: While optional, many students like to use aqua shoes for a water-based Yoga practice. This is especially important for diabetic students, because a foot scraped on the pool surface could create a wound healing issue.
Flotation equipment: Noodles or float bars are often used toward the end of class to mimic some postures that are typically performed supine or seated in a land class. Neck collars and kickboards may also be employed.
Spring is the perfect time to try something new, and Aqua Yoga will put you in the right frame of mind to enjoy the new life that comes with the season. It just may help you get ready for bathing suit season, too, so jump in and give it a try!
Mary has been practicing and teaching Yoga for almost 30 years and completed her 200 hour training program through YogaFit (200-RYT), a Yoga Alliance Approved School. Mary is also certified by American Council on Exercise (ACE), AEA, and Aura Yoga. Mary’s teaching style is a blend of many styles she has experienced, creating a class that incorporates breath work, meditation and asana. Mary feels that this blend helps her students find a mind/body connection and offers a perfect combination of calming, restorative poses, and energetic, active poses. If you are seeking help for a specific health condition, rest and relaxation, or a challenging workout, Mary can help you meet your goals with Yoga.