Aqua Yoga is a new way to enjoy your pool! No yoga mat required, just jump in the pool and lead a group of friends in a low-impact set of different aqua yoga poses - asanas - that develops flexibility, breathing, balance and core strength. Like regular yoga classes, relaxation poses are used to warm up and cool down.
Some Aqua Yoga courses follow the bikram yoga practice and heat the pool water to assist with flexibility and relaxation. In winter you could crank up the heater for hot pool yoga!
Classes are especially suited for those who benefit from the buoyancy of the water, and the easy resistance of the water. Aqua yoga is recommended for pregnant women, senior citizens, as rehabilitative exercise, or for anyone who wants to put their pool to a new and fun use!
Here are some good Yoga Water Workout warm-up exercises you can put to use in your own pool.
In chest deep water stand with your feet about 60-90cm from the pool wall. Grab the coping and hold your forearms flat against the wall. Slowly tilt your forehead backwards, touching the water while you arch your back, stretching your belly button towards the wall, without actually reaching it. Bring yourself up on your toes and breath deeply for 2-3 slow breaths. Slowly come out, to a standing position. Repeat 3 times.
This is a good counter move to the Cobra. In chest high water, stand with your back about 60-90cm from the pool wall. Starting with your hands at your chest, inhale while slowly arching backward, bringing your hands over the top, until you reach the wall. Hold the position for 2-3 breaths while you continue to push your belly button away from the wall, as though a string was pulling you. Slowly return to a starting, standing position. Repeat 3 times.
In waist high water, bend your knee and lift your right leg until your thigh is parallel to the pool floor. Keeping your toes pointed, press your left heel down. Hold your right toes with one hand, and slowly straighten your leg. Slowly pull your toes to increase the stretch, while breathing deeply. After 2-3 slow breaths, return to a standing position then switch to the opposite leg. Repeat 3 times on each leg.
In water of a comfortable depth, stand at arm's length from the wall with your right arm straight and your right fingers touching the coping. Spread your legs shoulder width apart, with your right foot pointed towards the wall and your left foot parallel to the wall. With a deep breath, bring your left arm up, bending to your right and over your head. Holding your back foot down, stretch along your left side. Hold the pose for three breaths, and return to a starting position before switching legs and facing the other direction.
Using a pool noodle can provide floatation during stretching or relaxation poses. Pool yoga doesn't require strong swimming skills, and is usually performed at chest high water depths.
Some pool yoga exercises that can be practiced with a pool noodle include:
The ladder tread or shallow end step can serve as a toe hold, while you lay out straight, and extend your body with your arms slightly out in front of you. Push down on the pool noodle while you keep your body perfectly plank-like. Breathe deeply as you hold the position for 30 seconds. Relax for a moment then push into position again.
Stand in chest high water, with your arms holding onto a pool noodle, at shoulder width apart. With a deep inhalation, push the noodle underwater while keeping your arms straight, and at the same time, extend one leg straight behind you. Continue until your face is under water, stretching your leg out until your body plane is parallel to the floor.
In chest high water, wrap the noodle around your body, with your elbows resting on the noodle and your hands gripping each end. Inhale deeply and raise both knees up to your chest while exhaling. Hold the pose for a few seconds and inhale again as you slowly return your legs to a vertical position. Repeat. Add a twist for variation.
In chest high water, wrap the noodle around your body with your elbows
resting on the noodle and your hands gripping each end. Lean forward with a running motion and drive your knees toward the surface. Alternate between fast, low drives and longer, slower high drives.
As with any fitness program, check with your physician before beginning. These great pictures above, from Damien Kelly's Water Workout - are for demonstration purposes only - pool yoga, or aqua yoga may not be safe to do alone. Always do your water exercises with a friend, a group or with a lifeguard present.