Water Yoga Q & A
By Lakshmi Landa, Feb 2005
What actually is water yoga?
The ancient practice of yoga works with the body, mind and spirit affecting all the systems of the body to bring balance and harmony which means health and happiness – inside and out. Yoga in the water adds a special quality to the practice because warm water is deeply relaxing and water in general allows a person to go deeper into stretching the muscles and joints.
You could say that Water Yoga opens the body, dissolves stress, strengthens and tones muscles and joints, eases aches and pains.
Exercise In the water also helps improve breathing which one of the main – if not the main- parts of yoga. In general, water yoga creates an anxiety-free relaxed state of body and mind.
The class includes yoga postures, breathing and relaxation in a warm, private pool.
How is water yoga different from regular yoga?
The first thing people notice is the relaxing effect of the warm water. But there is more. Yoga in the water is quite different for two important reasons. With the support of the water and virtually no gravity, movement and poses are easier to do and to hold, allowing for deeper work and more focus on what’s going on inside the body. For some people it allows poses that otherwise could not be done. Secondly, warm water, which is best for yoga, is a relaxant so exercise is less strenuous but muscles and joints actually loosen up more. For these reasons, it is especially good for people who have special conditions and cannot do regular yoga and for people who are overstressed, overworked, over-travelled, overweight, etc. Even some people with disabilities can perform very well in the water, but anyone who loves the water can benefit from Water Yoga.
The comment I hear most is that people really sleep well after class!
How did you come to develop this program of water yoga?
I teach prenatal yoga and HypnoBirthing which is a method of natural childbirth education, always emphasizing feeling comfortable and confident in your body, connecting with the baby within and working with breath and relaxation. When the pool became available, we wanted to offer it to pregnant women and they loved it. Warm water was a natural step for this special stage of life. It soon became clear that yoga and water were a perfect match and that everyone could benefit in similar ways from the soothing effect of the water.
What is unique about relaxation as taught in yoga?
Yoga exercise and relaxation, which is an integral part of it, in fact was originally developed to calm the body with the higher purpose of calming the mind and connecting with the higher self. This brings real inner peace and a kind of joy in life that cannot be obtained by seeking things outside.
This is the aim of our work at Shanti Yoga – Shanti is the Sanskrit word for peace.