Led by pioneering yogi Camella Nair, I was fortunate to spend a long weekend going deeper into aqua yoga study. The three-day intensive Aqua Yoga Specialist workshop was both exhilarating and exhausting.
It is always uplifting to be in the presence of women who are committed to improving the lives of others. We have all chosen yoga as our path to reach people often marginalized by traditional fitness programs.
Aqua yoga is wonderfully accessible. The buoyancy of the water allows people– regardless of their body’s ableness– to move in ways that gravity on land prohibits.
One of my favorite new-to-me concepts was using yoga straps as a sling in the water. I’ve used straps before to help people utilize the pool wall as an available surface. Using the strap as a sling to support the body, however, opens up so many new possibilities.
We spent some time exploring how aqua yoga could offer benefits to people who are wheelchair-bound. While recognizing that people utilize wheelchairs for a variety of reasons– some temporary, some permanent– there is also a wide variety of body movement we can offer them.
Perhaps the greatest benefit to the wheelchair bound is that gaining length in the spine allows the chest cavity to expand and the lungs to fill more easily. Imagine the release and relief of being able to breathe deeply while feeling supported by the water.
For people whose lower body is extremely buoyant, utilizing ankle weights and noodles allows the person to feel balanced in the water. The balance gives way to a relaxed confidence that the body is safe. The mind can calm and enjoy the support of the water in an unusual but nurturing position.
Playing with buoyancy and gravity is especially fun with how it relates to aqua savasana. The water is an ally of the parasympathetic nervous system. Allowing people to find calm and restoration in the gentle embrace of warm water is an avenue of healing we should all explore. Throw in a snorkel, and you can bliss out in ways you never thought possible!
Best of all, aqua yoga promotes inclusive community.
At its essence, breath, movement, higher intention, and honoring other peoples’ journeys are at the heart of yoga. I look forward to bringing this healing modality to even more people!
Interested in more posts about Aqua Yoga? I’ve got a whole series for you!
Wish you could find Aqua Yoga classes in your area? Find out if there’s an Aqua Kriya Yoga certified instructor near you!