This is a collection of the prompts and tutorials used during the aqua yoga challenge in May 2021. If you want to contribute, or see the pictures contributed by participants, use the hashtag #aquayogachallenge on Facebook or Instagram.
Day #1 of the Aqua Yoga Challenge – Warm up
By warming up, I don’t mean tip-toeing around with your shoulders scrunched up around your ears when you think the water is cold. I mean how you get started in your aqua yoga practice.
One of my favorite ways to warm up in the pool is to walk backward. That’s because it builds your proprioceptive skills (how you know where you are in space), strengthens your back, and helps you stand up taller.
If you like research, HERE‘s a research article on how walking in water is good for you.
Click below to watch a one-minute video on how to walk backward with good form.
Take the backward walking concept into 360 degrees by walking in a square. Four steps forward, four steps right, four steps backward, four steps left. It takes quite a bit of control to make a square. We’re all prone to polygons, so see how many repetitions it takes before you even out and get a square.
Also, you can ride a noodle bicycle. Use two pool noodles. Get friendly with one noodle by sliding it between your legs. Center yourself on the noodle. The second noodle goes in your hands in front like handlebars. Bend your knees so your floating. “Peddle” around on your bicycle. For more fun, can you freewheel and peddle backward?
Day #2 of the Aqua Yoga Challenge – A Twist
Twists are a great way to warm up spine. Also, they help teach you body discernment – the ability to do something in one part of your body and not another.
This video shows you how to twist your Down Dog (which is the pose in the picture above).
The easiest twist is a standing twist from Mountain pose. With your feet hip-distance apart and your hands on the surface of the water inhale in center. Exhale and twist one direction. Inhale back to center. Exhale and twist the other direction. Repeat this as many times as you want.
One of the most challenging options is to twist while in Chair pose. From standing, bend your knees and sink down into an imaginary chair. Inhale in center, exhale and twist to one direction while keeping your spine straight. The back arm can open to the side or stay down by your thighs. Notice how my right foot is squeaking out. No, no. Keep the feet parallel while you twist.
Come on Baby, Let’s do the Twist!
Challenge Day #3 – Use a prop
Today’s aqua yoga challenge is do something with a pool prop.
How to use a pool noodle – It’s such an easy thing, does it really need explaining? I give you four ways in a minute in this short video.
Because once you understand how pool noodles affect your buoyancy, you can get creative with them.
Pool noodles are far from the only aqua yoga prop. I just love them because they’re so versatile. If you want more strength and challenge from your props, try aquatic barbells.
Have fun with your pool props!
Challenge Day #4 – Balance
Today’s aqua yoga challenge prompt is about improving your balance with aqua yoga.
Balance – virtually everything about aqua yoga has an element of balance involved in it.
The most important thing about having good balance is your base.
Where are your feet? You want them hip-distance apart and facing forward.
That’s so we build Mountain pose with a strong foundation:
Once we’ve got a firm foundation, we can try fun things like Tree pose. Tree pose is a good starting balance posture because it’s easily customizable to your needs. It’s also almost the same, on land and water so it builds transferable skills.
For Tree pose:
Start in Mountain pose. Be firm on your left foot. Bend your right knee coming on to the right toes. Open your right knee out to the side like opening a book. Connect your right heel with the left ankle on your standing leg. This is Tree option #1.
Option #2, bend your right knee more and connect the sole of your right foot to the inner straight leg. The sole of your right foot can be anywhere on your left leg except pushing against the standing leg knee. Push your straight left leg into the sole of your right foot as much as you push your right foot into your left leg. That’s so your standing leg hip doesn’t shift away. Only raise your right leg the amount that works for you. Pick a focal point, a Drishti, in the distance to focus on to improve your concentration and balance. Hold for at least 5 breaths. Repeat as many times as you want and finish in Mountain pose.
Building on your firm foundation from Mountain pose, and the skills you got from Tree pose, try a harder pose like side leg lifts:
To balance in all things!
Today’s aqua yoga challenge prompt is about building strength.
It seems like no matter how strong we are, we all want to get stronger. I’ve never had anyone come to class and say, “I’m feeling weak and unsteady, and I’m ok with that.”
I love Plank pose in the pool because it’s a great way to build strength in the pool without the struggle like land. However, it’s still quite a challenge. Here’s an example of taking Plank to Reverse Plank.
I’m including a mention of core strength because I get so many requests for that. This version uses the pool steps.
We often use gear to build strength in the pool. That’s a great way to do it as long as we use good form. Poor form is often how we injure ourselves. I like to think of good ergonomics as being the perfect example of Ahimsa or non-harming in yoga. Absolutely we can push ourselves, but it’s not “No pain, no gain.” It’s “No pain, no pain.” The gain comes from doing the work with good form.
Stay strong with aqua yoga!
Today’s aqua yoga challenge is share your favorite thing about aqua yoga.
The definition of favorite is, of course, highly personal. It’s important you learn about yourself and your needs to determine your favorites. That’s one of the foundations of yoga. It’s called Svadhyaya, or self-knowledge.
What are your aqua yoga needs? Does your favorite thing serve those needs? Can you work with needs and wants, or are they competing in the pool?
Here’s a video that talks about this further:
I’m sharing my favorites with you today, but yours are probably entirely different -that’s the point. You learn about yourself first and then see what others do. Today will show everyone the diversity of the practice, and you’ll learn more about options that are good for you.
For example, the picture above in the day’s challenge, Wide-Legged Forward Fold, is one I love. I do it on the wall like this every chance I get, especially on days when I swim. It helps me stretch my back out.
It’s easier to do than it looks. Hang on to the pool edge or deck with your hands. Having a lip like this pool does help. Bend one knee and bring the sole of that foot to the pool wall. Step up with the other foot and walk your legs wide on the pool wall. You can hinge in your hips to bring your torso closer to the pool wall for more stretch or bend one knee at a time to sway it side to side.
The video below is a pose I do every time I get in my pool because it feels great for my back.
Today’s prompt has one less tutorial because it’s not about me, it’s about you. What’s the best thing ever in aqua yoga for you?
If you’re enjoyed the challenge and want to get more results with aqua yoga, enroll in the self-paced Intro to Aqua Yoga course.
You don’t get one-off pose videos like this, you get full 45-minute practice videos, audio downloads you can use on your phone to practice along with, and practice guides to download and waterproof.
The course makes aqua yoga accessible to everyone, just add the water.