Aqua Yoga is an ideal form of exercise for pre- and post-natal women, as well as anyone who has mobility problems, weight issues or feels less than supple on dry land.
Why is this?
Aqua Yoga adapts the principles and movements of classic yoga practices to the water, allowing you to create various levels of resistance according to what suits you, and enabling you to safely extend stretches in a way that isn’t possible on land. You should be fully immersed up to your shoulders and neck to experience the full benefits.
Water exercise of any kind is low impact, making it gentle on your joints and muscles. This is particularly important during pregnancy when all of your ligaments loosen to accommodate your growing baby.
By releasing you from the constraints of gravity, your body is able to move more freely, while still working key muscles. Aqua yoga is proven to help build strength, improve balance and increase your range of motion, which can be very liberating in the later stages of pregnancy or simply if you live with ongoing aches and pains on a daily basis.
For older people, aqua yoga is a great way of maintaining your fitness with low impact stretching and toning, which are essential for keeping you supple.
The pre-natal benefits of aqua yoga
Aqua yoga has some benefits which are particularly important during pregnancy – it:
- Improves your circulation
- Enables you to stretch and remain supple
- Encourages breath control, which is important during labour
- Gives you the opportunity to relax
- Offers pain relief for pregnancy aches and pains
- Improves your sleep
- Helps with digestion
- Reduces soreness and fatigue
These benefits are great for babies in utero too. Aqua yoga is proven to encourage babies to move into an ideal birth position towards the end of your third trimester. It can also help them to feel calm and relaxed because this is how you’re feeling. Plus, aqua yoga is great for bonding with your baby even before they’re born. Floating in the peace of the water, you have the opportunity to focus on your baby’s movements in a way that isn’t possible at any other time.
The post-natal benefits of aqua yoga
Postnatally, aqua yoga can help to realign your spine, strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles, and tone those all-important pelvic floor muscles. It can also give you essential time out from the demands of being a new mum, a time to relax and be yourself. This means that when you go home to your baby, you’ll feel calmer, fitter and less stressed.
Do you have to be a strong swimmer to attend aqua yoga classes?
Another benefit of aqua yoga is that it’s suitable for tentative swimmers. Many of the sequences can be performed near the edge of the pool and are suitable for less confident. Strong swimmers can perform more complex sequences if they want to do so.
Floating during aqua yoga classes gives you greater freedom of movement and relaxation. Equally, if you’re happy to put your head and face in the water, this can give you access to a further range of practices, but it’s fine if this isn’t for you.
We do encourage even tentative swimmers to use floating aids so that you can lie back and relax in the water.
I trained as an aqua yoga instructor with Birthlight, a friendly charity and teacher-training organisation that focuses on the holistic approach to pregnancy, birth and babyhood.
Try it and you’ll be hooked! Click here to book a place on one of our aqua yoga sessions.
Sessions currently available at the Ingworth Pool, Norwich, NR11.
Photos taken from the Birthlight website.