I'm pretty sure I got my love of being in the water first but as soon as I found my love of āsana, the physical practice of yoga, I was excited to try some of the poses in the pool! I've been a Yoga Mermaid for years now! Let me tell you why Aqua Yoga is so good...
(beautiful Yoga Mermaid pic by @moonsproutstudios)
The inherent healing and soothing properties of water encourage the body, mind and spirit to let go of tension. Being submerged in water enables the joints to open up allowing a wider range of motion so we feel more flexible and have a freedom of movement in the water that we might not feel on land. The buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure, resistance and temperature of the water all contribute to allow practitioners of all fitness levels and abilities to learn about and trust in the movements of their body and find stillness and peace for the mind. Being in the water means that we can let go of the fear of falling over. Our bodies are completely supported by the water and we have more confidence in our movements. However, the movement and weight of the water also challenges our balance and cognitive abilities to move our bodies. The fact that our muscles, nervous system and brain all have to learn how to work together efficiently in the water and we get clear feedback of our movements from the feel of the water means that we're able to really switch everything else off and just be present in the moment and in our bodies, a very welcome way to relieve stress and tension.
Being in water is also a great way to relieve pain from the body. Having the buoyancy of the water almost completely supporting the weight of our bodies means that we are able to more freely move those parts of us that might be carrying injury that we normally tend to hold still to protect them. Gentle and supported movement can help to heal an injury faster and strengthen the muscles around the injury to prevent future re-injury. When you then add the healing benefits of the yoga-asana (poses) we achieve a holistic practice that allows the mind, body and spirit to feel ease.
‘Water Yoga encourages the body’s inherent desire to be healthy and to heal itself. This is called homeostasis.’
Jill Coleman Water Yoga 2002 p13
In this picture one of our aqua yogis is taking 'shavasana' with the aid of a couple of pool noodles. They are fully supported without pressure on any parts of their body. In this state our aqua yogi said they had 'an amazing experience' of being aware of their body in a completely different way.
In this video our aqua yogis are demonstrating a sun salutation with the aid of the pool wall. The buoyancy and movement of the water forces our core to work to keep us steady and anchored while our bodies move. Sometimes we can allow our bodies to move with the water and at other times we need to hold against it. This required focus allows us to let go of the rest of the world and be completely at one with the present moment.
२.४६ स्थिर सुखम् आसनम् |
2.46 āsana is steadiness and ease,
२.४७ प्रयत्न शैथिल्य अनन्त समापत्तिभ्याम् |
2.47 from relaxation of effort and endless unity.
(from Chapple & Viraj. 1990. The yoga sutras of Patanjali: An analysis of the Sanskrit with accompanying English translation. Sri Satguru Publications.)
The two sutras above are Patanjali's instructions on āsana poses, which are one part of his eight limbs of a complete yoga practice. In the water may be the only place where some yogis can experience that 'steadiness and ease' in their āsana practice. Sometimes finding that 'relaxation of effort' on the mat may be out of reach, even in poses like 'shavasana' which is meant to be completely relaxing. A body in calm water can find that release. Sometimes it's not a physical barrier to finding 'endless unity' but a mental one where the mind doesn't seem to want to connect with the breath or the body not matter what pose or pranayama (breath work) you try on your mat. When we're in the water our mind seems to easily be absorbed by the feel of the water on our skin, the gentle but insistent push and pull of the water on our muscles and joints, the play of light on the moving surface of the water, the soothing sound of moving water; it feels easy to let go of other things and... be present.
Moving in Water
Increases flexibility and range of motion
Encourages physical, mental and emotional relaxation
Decreases risk of injury
Reduces mental, emotional and physical stress
Enhances the overall sense of wellness
Yoga in Water
All of the above, plus....
connection; mind, body, breath & Self connection; connection with your aqua yogi class mates; connection with the universal.
Our next Aqua Yoga classes are:
Sunday 13th February 1:45-3:15pm
Thursday 17th February 11:45am - 1:15pm
Please book online at www.plusyoga.org/book-online
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