What is water yoga?

Water yoga is as simple as it sounds. It’s practicing yoga in the water. It’s a complete yoga practice including asana (poses), Pranayama (yoga breathwork), and meditation (done floating) all informed by yoga philosophy.

Here are some videos to give you a sense of what water yoga is like:

How to do Triangle pose in the pool.

How to do Down Dog pose in the pool.

How to do Warrior II pose in the pool.

The water yoga pose tutorial database has more than two dozen free water yoga videos for you to use also.

Where can you practice?

The best place to practice water yoga is a pool. Use the shallow end at a water depth that goes mid-way up your chest. Chest deep water offloads about 70% of your weight due to the buoyancy of the water. That makes it both the perfect depth for some pain relief and some challenge.

Other places to practice include your bathtub. There you can practice seated yoga postures anytime you want. You can also practice in a hot tub. Depending on the depth, you can do seated or standing postures. Both your bath and a hot tub are great choices for a winter practice or for When You Can’t Make it to the Pool.

The deep end of the pool is also an option but a very different way to practice.  For more information on a deep water practice, read my article on Deep Water Yoga.

The beach is another choice. Remember safety first: make sure you’re practicing with a buddy, have a cell phone on the beach, and you’ll need calm water without waves. Never turn your back on the water. Aqua yoga is a very safe practice overall but anytime you’re around water, you should take some extra precautions. 

Read my article on Aqua Yoga Safety.

Who can do it?

Simple – Aqua yoga is for everyone!

Different audiences do have different needs however, and that’s part of the power of the practice. It’s a challenge for everyone but highly accessible. Everyone can do it and get something out of it.

Seniors benefit from the improvements in balance, strength, and social aspects of classes.

People with arthritis or any other chronic pain condition benefit from exercising in the water. The water offloads weight from sore joints. This is a specialty of mine because I live with multiple arthritic conditions and I’ve written extensively on Aqua Yoga for Arthritis, Aqua Yoga for Arthritis Research, and Aqua Yoga for Lupus.

Kids need a water yoga practice that’s light, short, and focused on fun.

Pregnant women benefit from the support of the water.

Chronic back pain is a reality for millions of Americans. This practice can be a tool for some pain relief as well as strengthening and stretching your back. Keeping your back strong and healthy with aqua yoga as prevention is a great skill set.

The Science of Self Care – Yoga has been shown to be an effective self-care tool and aqua yoga has some unique benefits for a diverse range of self-care needs.

Are you ready to try water yoga yourself?

What equipment do you need?

You can easily do yoga in the pool with no equipment. Basic props include pool noodles, aquatic dumbbells, or kickboards. Inner tubes, yoga belts, deep water float belts, ankle weights or buoyancy cuffs can all be used as well for specialty applications.

Do you have to get your head wet during water yoga?

No, not unless you want to. If you’re looking for more about managing your hair during water yoga, a hair resource for water yoga is my article on Managing your Hair while at the pool.

What are the benefits of water yoga?

infographic showing five benefits of practicing with women doing aqua yoga poses

For a full listing of the benefits backed by yoga philosophy and western research, read my article on the Benefits of Aqua Yoga with 29 benefits.

Water yoga compared to land yoga

There are three properties of working in the water that have a big impact on your water yoga practice compared to land: hydrostatic pressure, buoyancy, and viscosity.

  • Hydrostatic pressure is that feeling of being enveloped in a wet sock when you get in the water. It’s inward pressure everywhere. It provides some health benefits such as making your kidneys and heart work more efficiently, that yoga on land doesn’t offer.
  • Buoyancy is the lift you get from the support of the water. You’re not supporting as much of your weight as on land so it provides some pain relief and some challenge compared to yoga on land.
  • Viscosity is the challenge of moving through a thicker substance. Air provides very litle resistance when you move through it. Doing yoga in water isn’t like moving through maple syrup but it definitely provides more resistance in all directions than moving through air.

Floating meditation in Water Yoga

Most people’s favorite part of an aqua yoga class is the floating meditation at the end. If you’d like information specific to floating meditation, read my article with floating meditation prompts. You can also access my free meditation downloads on Insight Timer anytime.

Podcasts as another resource for Water Yoga

Being passionate about water yoga, I appear on podcasts to help get the word out about the subject. Listen here:

Persistence with aqua yoga on the Persistence U podcast

Meet Christa Fairbrother on the Bare Bones Yoga Podcast

Flow Artists with Christa Fairbrother

Interoceptive Aqua Yoga on The Yoga Pro podcast

Aqua Yoga for Arthritis on Arthritis Life

Water Yoga – A Teacher’s Guide

Look for my book, Water Yoga, to be published in July of 2022 by Singing Dragon books. You can get all the latest info about the book HERE.

The most important aspect of water yoga is remembering it’s a fun way to experience the pool and yoga. Next time you’re at the pool give it a try. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll be convinced – YOGA IS BETTER WHEN WET.

Cover of the book, Water Yoga a Teacher's Guide which shows a woman in the pool wearing an orange sun shirt and black sun pants in a modified version of Eagle pose during aqua yoga.

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