You may have heard of the many physical and psychological benefits that participating in yoga can bring, but most people don’t know that there are additional benefits when you take your practice to the pool. Introducing your yoga practice to water allows your body to get a whole new wave of health benefits.
1. You can go through the movements more easily.
Exercising in the water is known for its therapeutic and rehabilitative uses; well-designed classes and a motivating instructor will give you a thorough practice that is just as effective, and possibly even more comfortable, than a land-based yoga class.
2. Water adds hydrostatic pressure, buoyancy, and resistance.
To start with, let’s look at hydrostatic pressure, a property you cannot benefit from when doing land-based yoga. This is the gentle pressure on the body caused by the water when you are in the pool. This increases the deeper into the pool you go. Think of your body being gently squeezed by the water. This pressure, along with the movement of the water, provides a gentle massaging effect around the body, helping with a variety of ailments. As this massaging effect is equal around the body, it assists with circulation and blood pressure by helping the blood flow back to the heart.
3. A gentle, water-based yoga could boost your metabolism.
As your circulation is being controlled by the water, there is no added stress on the organs, meaning that your metabolism is still working while you are exercising. This is often why you can feel really hungry after you have been to the pool!
The gentle pressure temporarily relieves edema and fluid retention by encouraging the fluid back into the circulatory system (you may need to use the toilet more after your class!). If you are an asthma sufferer (provided chlorine does not have an adverse effect on your asthma), the hydrostatic pressure around your chest while exercising will help to strengthen your respiratory muscles. The warm and humid environment should make exercising in the water comfortable.
4. The buoyancy of being in the water benefits those who are overweight or have issues with their joints.
This is one of the reasons water yoga is used in injury rehabilitation; it reduces the weight being loaded onto the joints, which may provide temporary relief from aches and pains. Standing chest depth in water can greatly reduce impact on the body. The buoyancy will change your center of gravity, and, therefore, your body will be using core muscles to keep you upright, so you will be strengthening important muscles before you even start your yoga!
This “floaty feeling” will promote a sense of well-being during the relaxation phase of your class and will also help to slow down the pace at which you work in the water, but don’t worry, the resistance will make sure you work just as hard as you would on land!
5. The water provides an effective resistance.
When not using any water weights you have resistance from every angle, meaning that you are gently toning all areas of your body, thus creating a balanced way to improve your fitness. Resistance will also help to slow down your pace, reducing the risk of injury or falls (you can’t fall over in the water!). Adding resistance through water depth, water weights, or changing your body position will help to provide more of a challenge.
6. You won't overheat.
The water temperature will keep you feeling comfortable throughout your class, meaning you can work harder during each asana (yogic posture), without necessarily feeling it. The calming effects of the water, combined with your yogic relaxation and breathing techniques will ensure that you leave your class feeling not flushed, hot, and sweaty but peaceful, invigorated, and empowered (albeit slightly hungry!).