Have you ever caught yourself trying too hard to hold a pose? Have you ever wondered if it would ever be possible to just float into a position with grace and ease, instead of sweat and jittering muscles?
Well there is – and one to alleviate all of the physical and mental anguish that comes with some of the more advanced poses – it’s water.
Water is not only helpful with buoyancy, it is also helpful for relieving joint and bone stress. Numerous physical therapists use water as a method for assisting patients with arthritis and recovery for operations – so why not use it to help with yoga?
Most of the weight-bearing issues are relieved when trying yoga in the water – as it serves as a natural prop for helping the body to balance and stay upright.
By trying these poses in the water (preferably no more than chest height), you can more easily prepare your muscles and joints for when you stand on your mat on dry land.
5 Poses To Try In The Pool
1. Padangusthasana (Big Toe Pose)
Start out by using one or two foam noodles, or the side of the pool. Standing with a straight spine and one arm extended holding a noodle or 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 noodle/s 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 noodle/s.
3. Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)
Start out by using one or two foam noodles, or the side of the pool. Standing with a straight spine and your left arm fully extended holding a noodle or 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 uddiyana bandha, or core muscles, to let your legs float in front of you. Hold and breathe. Feel the water support your legs, but use your core to enable you to stay.
5. Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand)
You may have tried this many times – and probably see a number of kids doing handstand in the pool, but simply forgot how fun it is – or not realized that it’s a good way to practice this pose. The only prop you’ll need here is water. You may need to venture into water that is slightly deeper to start, then work your way to the shallower water as you increase your balance. Also, it’s recommended that you be very comfortable underwater and holding your breath for a short time. To get there, simply dive down, place your hands on the bottom and let your feet go in the air – and, of course, hold your breath.
There are numerous poses that can easily be adapted for the water, however a few that seem to be difficult on land can be easily adapted with a couple of noodles. As you try more balance poses, try moving away from the wall or using noodles. Eventually, you will find yourself “literally” floating into a pose with grace and ease, instead of sweat and jittering muscles.