If you’ve never heard of water yoga, this is the place to start. Many people have already discovered the positive effects of yoga on the mind and body. It is a practice that combines stretching, exercise, breathing, and meditation for overall health and relaxation. Water yoga does these same things, but with a twist––it all takes place in a pool.
Especially as you get older, yoga is a great way to stay flexible, active, and healthy. Doing yoga in a pool has the added benefits of extra resistance and a cushion to protect you from losing your balance. On a hot summer’s day, it’s also a great option to beat the heat.
Read on to learn about water yoga, its benefits, and plenty of poses to try out on your own.
What Are the Benefits of Practicing Water Yoga?
There are so many amazing benefits of practicing yoga!
Improve Your Physical Health
Yoga can help relieve and prevent many types of physical ailments. It can help relieve back pain, arthritis, tender joints, and other conditions related to inflammation. Reducing your stress level and doing low-level exercise can also improve the health of your heart. Some studies even suggest that, by reducing stress levels, yoga can boost your immune system.
Get Better Sleep
Mind-body therapies like yoga can improve your sleep quality and even combat insomnia. We all know the perks of a good night’s sleep; losing out on that can lead to a bad mood and inattentiveness. Long-term loss of sleep can also diminish your health. Poor sleep elevates cortisol levels, which are tied to body functions like your cardiovascular system.
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Yoga is also great for reducing stress. Not only can it get your body moving, thereby taking your mind off of everyday anxieties, but it also allows you moments of peace and meditation. With 84% of Americans suffering from long-term stress, most people can benefit from this sort of relief. Remember to practice mindfulness and proper breathing for the best effects in this area.
Improve Your Balance and Posture
There are multiple ways in which yoga can positively affect your balance and posture. Working on your body’s flexibility and mobility, for one thing, can lead to better body alignment. Many yoga poses also rely on your body simply practicing balance. Some studies have shown that yoga could improve overall balance, not just in athletes and a generally healthy population, but in older folks as well. This can be great for preventing accidents and injuries.
That’s right––water yoga can help you feel confident in that new swimsuit. Yoga can be great exercise––and it’s no secret that exercise can help you burn calories and lose weight. For older people, water yoga is an especially good exercise because it’s low impact; that means it’s easy on the joints. While some poses are more focused on meditation, others can really be a workout. The added resistance the water provides is also good for building strength.
Become More Flexible
Just like any proper stretching, doing yoga regularly can make you more flexible. Nobody likes dealing with sore muscles and tension. Yoga can help relieve those symptoms. Older adults in particular can slow down the loss of flexibility by practicing yoga.
Enjoy the Extra Support
Water yoga is a good alternative to regular yoga if you struggle a bit with balance, strength, and flexibility. The buoyancy of the water prevents you from falling and hurting yourself. You can also use pool noodles and the edge of the pool for balance.
Tips for Water Yoga
Before getting started on these poses, here are some things to keep in mind.
- Get a well-fitting swimsuit. A swimsuit that’s old or uncomfortable can make the experience less than ideal. Make sure you feel comfortable and confident.
- Look into equipment. While it’s not necessary, having a kickboard and noodle will come in handy for a lot of these exercises.
- Enlist a friend. Having a partner to do yoga with can help you stay motivated and keep an eye on technique. It never hurts to have a pool buddy.
- Remember to breathe. Stretching and exercising are only one part of yoga. Taking deep breaths is vital to the effectiveness of a pose––and to your own peace of mind.
- Go at your own pace. If something feels painful, work up to it with easier poses. Don’t strain yourself.
- Look for classes. Local fitness studios or pools might offer aqua yoga classes. Having the careful eye of an instructor can end up being very helpful in the long run.
Water Yoga Poses To Try
North Star Pose
On an inhale, widen your stance. Bring your arms up over your head and have your hands meet. Think of this as forming three points of a star––each of your feet making up the first and second point, with your joined hands being the third.
Warrior II Pose
If you’ve taken a yoga class before, you are likely already familiar with this pose. Bend into one leg while extending the other. Lift both arms up and spread them out sideways. Exhale as you lower into this pose. Keep your feet flat and firm on the ground.
Flowing Warrior Pose
This is a great place to melt into after Warrior II. Stay in Warrior II pose, but allow your body to drift back and forth as if it’s being pushed and pulled by waves. Allow your arms to flow as if you are being carried by the water.
The crescent pose looks a lot like a forward lunge. Standing in water that is about hip deep, take a big step forward with your right foot. With your foot flat on the ground, bend the right leg so it creates a 90-degree angle. Keep your left leg extended straight behind you and your back straight. On an inhale, bring your arms straight up over your head. Press your shoulders back and take deep breaths.
Big Toe Pose
This pose requires some flexibility. Stand tall by the edge of the pool and extend your right arm on the edge, holding it for stability. Grab your left big toe with your left hand and bring your knee towards your chest. From there, extend the leg (still holding on to your foot) and bring it out to your left side. Keep your spine straight and release the edge when you feel ready.
Floating Corpse Pose
Also called Savasana, this pose can be the most relaxing and centering when done correctly. A typical corpse pose is done by laying flat on the ground, your legs slightly apart, and the palms of your hands facing upwards. A floating Savasana is done in water. Laying on your back, keep yourself afloat. You can use pool noodles to help you. Remember to relax and let the tension go from your body.
Floating Boat Pose
This yoga pose is also a good ab strengthening exercise. Begin by standing straight, holding a pool noodle out in front of you, your arms outstretched. Push your feet off of the floor and bring your knees up, bending the legs. Keep your arms steady as you extend and straighten your legs. Try pointing your toes to the sky and holding this pose for a few breaths.
Like the floating corpse pose, this one involves floating on your back. Once you are floating securely, bend your left leg and plant your left foot against your inner right thigh. Bring your hands above your head and put your palms together, as if praying. Keep your arms bent. Repeat by switching legs.
Water Tree Pose
This one is not to be confused with a floating tree. For the tree pose, you want to be standing up. Have one foot firmly planted on the ground, the other bent sideways and resting on your inner thigh. Raise your arms above your head and join them in a praying motion if you can. After a minute, exhale and switch legs.
Position yourself about two feet away from the side of the pool in chest-deep water. Holding on the edge of the pool, lean forward so your forearms lay flat against the wall. Then get on your tiptoes and arch your back. Push your stomach forward. The back of your head should meet the water. Breathe deeply three times before relaxing into a standing position.
Water Yoga Poses With Equipment
Warrior III Pose
For this move, you are going to need a pool noodle (although you can also opt to do it without one). Stand near the edge of the pool and hold the horizontal noodle out in front of you, arms straight. Start bending forward, pushing lightly against the noodle. As you lean forward, lift your right leg backward until it meets with the pool wall. Press your left foot into the floor. Both legs should be straight. You can also perform this pose without the support of the wall if you wish.
Half Moon Pose
While it can be done without them, this pose recommends the use of foam water weights. Start by standing straight. Have your arms straight out to your sides in a T pose, each hand holding a water weight. Lightly push down on the water weights as you lean to your left, picking your right foot off the ground and extending that leg until it is parallel to the water’s surface. Hold for ten breaths, then switch legs.
Grab two pool noodles for this pose. Standing straight, hold each noodle lengthwise at your side. Pressing the noodles downward, engage your core to lift your legs straight up in front of you. Your back and abdominal muscles should help keep you afloat with the aid of water.
Upward Facing Dog
This is another one where you should use one or two foam noodles. Hold the noodles lengthwise in front of you while standing straight. Arching your back, lean forward, and gradually push the noodles forward. Hold this stance for a few breaths before rolling back into a standing position.
Lord of the Dance Pose
This pose requires a kickboard. To begin, stand straight and hold the kickboard at arm’s length in front of you with your right hand. Keeping your spine straight, lift your left leg backward. Use your left hand to grab onto the back of your foot and guide your leg upwards, bending it while your arm remains straight. Arch your back and lean forward. When you’re comfortable, let go of the edge and lift your right arm just slightly. Hold for a few breaths, then try it with the other leg.
If regular yoga classes have always seemed intimidating to you, you might find that the serenity of a pool will make the whole thing a bit easier. It’s also good to know that, if you fall, the water will be there to catch you. You can always hold on to the side of the pool or a noodle to keep your balance. Whatever your level, you can improve your health, fitness, and mind through these simple practices. Now is the time to throw on that swimsuit and give water yoga a try.