Properties of Aqua Yoga – What Aqua Yoga Is and Isn’t
I will be teaching another aqua yoga class (yeah!!) starting in a few days so I’ve been doing a lot of explaining about what aqua yoga is, and what it isn’t, to people who’ve never done it. It was a good exercise in making me clarify the properties of aqua yoga.
It helps to think of the water as a tool, like any other we would use in yoga. In land-based classes, we use a chair or a block to build body awareness, move deeper into a pose, accommodate an injury, etc. The water does the same for us. Aqua yoga is not a lesser form of yoga, it’s just yoga with an unusual main prop and there’s even some pool specific secondary props like the pool edge, noodles and kickboards.
There’s an anonymity to aqua yoga that land based yoga doesn’t have. No one else in class can see if you’re bending your front knee in triangle pose so there’s no reason to be self conscious. However, the clarity of the water lets me see from the pool deck, so I can still keep students safe and accountable to the best job they’re capable of. That makes for the best of both worlds – no cheating and no scorn.
The properties of aqua yoga include a huge refocus on your balance. Take Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III) for example. On land that’s a big demanding pose. It takes strength, flexibility, concentration and a hefty dose of balance. It’s not a beginner friendly pose but in the pool everyone can do a decent job.
You achieve greater hip stability right out of the gait with aqua yoga. The pressure of the water help keeps you ‘compact’ in the hips as the Iyengar yogi’s would say. You can still lack body awareness and ‘tip your bucket’ as Camella Nair, who I did my training with would call it. That would be tilting the pelvis forward or back, out of alignment, or even tilting one hip up in an asymmetrical pose. I just think it’s easier to notice and correct with the pressure of the water all around you.
Aqua Yoga is not all about strength. It’s not a power practice. You won’t get your sweat on in class.
Aqua yoga is also not like other water aerobics classes. It requires concentration on what you’re doing. Conversation is out, sorry.
To sum up aqua yoga is fun, challenging and effective. It’s available to someone who’s never practiced before and it provides a neat new challenge to an experienced yogi. Get in the pool and try it sometime!