Holding a yoga pose can sometimes be challenging. Focus is required or you could tip over. Imagine if you could just float into position with the grace of a dancer. Well, you can if you do yoga in the water.
Water helps with buoyancy, not to mention it’s good for relieving joint and bone stress. It’s so healing as it releases pain and stimulates your lymph system. A lot of physical therapists use water as a method for helping patients with arthritis and recovery for operations – so why not use it to help with yoga?
Water serves as a natural prop for helping the body to balance and stay upright. Stay at chest height in the water and try out some of these yoga poses. It’ll prep you and your muscles and joints for when you’re on your mat on dry land. If you like Bikram (hot yoga), crank up the heater!
1. Padangusthasana (Big Toe Pose)
Start at the side of the pool. Stand with a straight spine and one arm extended hold the wall to your left or right, bend the outer leg and bring the knee towards the chest.
Grab the big toe or outer edge of the foot, and straighten the leg as much as possible without losing the straightness of your back. Slowly take the leg to the side, keeping both hips forward, and the back straight. Feel the water support your balance. When you’re ready, let go of the noodle or wall. Stand tall and balance. Repeat on the other side.
2. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog)
Using one or two foam noodles, place both hands on the noodle(s). Stand with a straight spine, rolling the shoulders away from the ears. Slowly push the noodles away, and simultaneously arch the back and roll over to the top of the toes. Use the core to stay in place while holding the noodles.
3. Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)
Start out by holding the side of the pool. Standing with a straight spine and your left arm fully extended holding the wall so it is directly in front of you. Take the right hand and place it on your right hip.
Slowly hinge forward at the hips while raising the right leg behind you. Keep both legs straight. As the right leg rises, keep the foot flexed. When your right leg is parallel to the ground, or your face is too close to the water, open the hips towards the right and raise the right arm towards the sky. Feel how the water supports your leg and your torso. Repeat on the other side.
4. Navasana (Boat Pose)
Using 2 noodles, place each lengthwise on your left and right side. Grab each noodle with your hands and press down gently into the water. As the noodles go down, engage your core muscles, to let your legs float in front of you. Hold and don’t forget to breathe. Deep breaths in the nose and out the nose. Feel the water support your legs. By using your core it will enable you to stay.
5. Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand)
Remember the handstand in gym class? Well, it’s a staple in yoga, and a lot easier in water. It’s easier in the deeper end, so you may want to try it there first provided you’re comfortable holding your breath underwater. Eventually ease back to the shallow end and try it there once you feel confident. Dive down, place your hands on the bottom and kick your feet in the air.
There are quite a few poses that are easier to do in the water. The buoyancy makes even the most difficult asanas seem effortless.
6. Floating Savasana
Every yoga class ends with Savasana, so don’t deprive yourself of what I consider the best part when practicing in a pool. You can add a noodle or floating device if you prefer. Relax, lie back and float face-up in the water for as long as you need.
Photo: White Crow Yoga