Water yoga, also known as aqua yoga, is a modern variant of traditional yoga that is practiced with the body partially or totally underwater. It is an alternative for those who want an activity with little impact on the joints, with innumerable health benefits, that does not demand great flexibility and that provides relaxation.
Some asanas remain intact, while others are reinterpreted so that they can be done underwater. The resistance of the liquid helps you in several ways, such as losing weight. As we will see later, it is an activity that people of all ages can do.
Characteristics of Water Yoga
Water yoga became popular as an alternative to the classic variant of yoga. For many novice practitioners, some postures demanded a degree of flexibility or difficulty that made it difficult to enjoy the sessions.
This is why underwater yoga emerged as an easier option because it involved little flexibility, without compromising the benefits of the sessions at all. The variant is carried out with the water at chest level, although some advanced students perform various poses completely underwater. Most, however, appeal for the first option.
Given the floating effect, any type of person can practice water yoga. Even those who have an injury to the back, the cervical area or the lumbar region that can be activated in a classic yoga session. Obese practitioners, in the same way, can fully develop it without any limitation.
As with the traditional variant, there are many types of water yoga. Some stay true to their terrestrial edition, while others take advantage of the whole concept of an underwater activity. The best example of the first case is Aqua Kriya Yoga. This does not differ from the traditional variant and also includes the classic relaxation and breathing component.
Benefits of Practicing Water Yoga
Although it is true that underwater yoga is easier to practice than its land variant, this does not mean that the benefits are reduced. We highlight some of the advantages of practicing water yoga:
- You can reduce the percentage of body fat: this is confirmed by studies and research on the matter. According to the experts, a personalized program of this type of yoga of at least 8 weeks is enough to perceive improvements in the reduction of body fat.
- You can improve your respiratory fitness: Based on the evidence, experts agree that yoga sessions under water improve the lung fitness of participants. The movement of the legs and arms in the water, added to the pressure of this on the body, helps to achieve a better cadence of breathing.
- Reduce your blood pressure: the research to respect support the use of underwater activities, such as water yoga, to reduce blood pressure. It is even openly recommended for those who, even when they have not been diagnosed, are at risk of suffering from a cardiovascular condition in the future.
- You can minimize the impact on your joints: which allows you to practice physical activity without compromising the state of these. Some high-impact sports, such as running, represent a serious problem for joint health.
- You can eliminate stress and tension: as we will see later, variables such as the temperature of the water or the background music, added to the movements themselves, provide you with a relaxation close to that obtained with meditation.
In case you opt for group sessions, it is a space to strengthen your social relationships. Nothing prevents you, however, from developing a routine from a private pool.
5 Water Yoga Poses for Beginners
We have prepared a selection of the best water yoga asanas for beginners. If you want to go to your first class with some postures already practiced, we invite you to review the following.
The warrior pose, also known as virabhadrasana, is one of the basic asanas of a yoga class. There are several types, which are divided into the traditional school as I, II and III.
The asanas are done in a continuum, so that the buoyancy of the water plays in your favor and against you. In your favor because you can make the transition freely, but against because you must put up certain resistance to prevent the water from displacing you.
- Virabhadrasana I: Begin with the mountain pose (tadasana) and step forward with your right foot. Stretch your left foot back so that it points in the same direction as your torso. Arch your back a little and stretch your arms up with your eyes fixed on them.
- Virabhadrasana II: slowly lower your arms towards your chest and move your torso in a frontal direction. Arrange your feet in the position that provides you the most comfort and then stretch your arms back and forth with your gaze fixed on the first one.
- Virabhadrasana III: to finish, bring your body forward so that it rests on one leg. Extend your foot back in the air and your arms forward. You will imitate the shape of a T with your feet as a trunk.
2. Floating savasana
Although it is a pose that is used at the end of a traditional yoga session, in water yoga it is used at the beginning or in the middle of class. It can be done by taking advantage of the natural ability to float, although those who have difficulties in this can use floats on the legs and arms.
To do the floating savasana, also known as the corpse pose, you must float on the surface of the water with your arms and legs stretched out. Relax your neck, muscles and remove worries from your head. This asana demands a respiratory commitment to do it correctly.
3. Floating Vrksasana
Also known as tree pose, and in the case of water yoga as floating tree pose, it is another of the basic movements that every beginner should learn. As in the previous case, practitioners can do it with or without floats. Although it can be done vertically, by taking advantage of buoyancy you acquire greater relaxation.
To do it you must start floating regularly. Once in this position, you will gather your arms joining the palms of your hands and you will carry them stretched over your head. Your left leg will remain straight at the end of the right leg until the sole of your foot rests on the inside side of your left knee.
4. Ardha chandrasana
It is also known as the half-moon pose and, at least in its variant on land, represents a challenge for practitioners. In water yoga, however, it has a medium-low difficulty. To avoid complications on the surface of the water it adapts a little.
It consists of imitating a T with your body, as you have done with the Warrior III posture, only this time one of your arms, the left one, will accompany your left leg that you keep elevated. Your head is positioned above the surface in the direction of where you feel most comfortable.
The chair pose in water yoga is usually done completely underwater, so it is practiced in shallow pools. If you wish, you can develop it with your head on the surface, although keep in mind that the previous position helps to strengthen the cardio-respiratory benefit.
To do it, you will imitate underwater as best you can the movement of sitting in a chair. You will do it with your feet together, your torso semi-upright and your arms raised above your head. If you, do it underwater, you will relax completely and hold your breath as long as you can.
Tips for practicing aqua yoga
We have already told you about its characteristics, its advantages and some basic postures for beginners. We say goodbye to this article on water yoga showing you some very useful tips:
- Use floats if you haven’t yet learned the technique to fully float.
- For some postures, the use of weights can be of great help. These will keep you anchored in one place and prevent the resistance of the water from defeating you.
- If you are prone to ear infections, wear earplugs or avoid immersion underwater for a long time.
- Since classes last between 20 and 60 minutes, it is a good idea to wear special neoprene clothing.
- Put on music in the background and create a relaxing atmosphere if you practice it on your own.
- Preferably, it is suggested to develop the classes in pools with warm water.
- Go at your own pace. Although most of the positions are easier than its classic variant, we invite you to try those of your level and then progressively increase.
If you take this into account, in addition to what we have already told you in the previous sections, you will have everything ready to practice water yoga. The most important thing, in any case, is that you make sure you enjoy the sessions, come ready to learn and relax and distract yourself.