Upgrade your pool practice by performing this intermediate water yoga sequence. These intermediate level poses require balance, strength, and flexibility. Some also involve going under water. If necessary, grab your goggles and dive in!
1. Upward Salute
In yoga, the upward salute is simple. From mountain pose, all you have to do is sweep your arms up and out of the water and stretch them toward the sky. The difference between performing this move in the water and on your mat is the resistance the water provides for your chest and shoulders. For best results, keep your tummy firm, your arms straight, and your shoulders drawn back and down. Combine it with chair pose for a dynamic upper body combination.
2. Dynamic Chair
When practiced in a traditional setting, chair pose fires up the muscles of your glutes and quads. In the water, your body weight provides less resistance. With a few tweaks, it can help you work on your hip and ankle mobility, while also engaging your triceps and lats.
- Start from your upward salute.
- On your next exhale, sweep your arms forward and down and bend your knees, dropping into a low squat with your arms by your sides.
- On your inhale raise your arms forward and up to return to your upward salute.
Depending on how deep the water is, your head may completely submerge when you drop into chair. If you prefer to stay above water, stay on the shallow side of the pool. Repeat the movement 10 times before moving to the next pose.
3. Crescent Warrior
Crescent is a great transitional pose for any water sequence. It will lightly work your quads and glutes while helping you stretch your hips.
- Begin in your upward salute.
- Step your right foot back about three to five feet.
- Bend your left knee to come into a long lunge.
Make sure to keep your hips square to the wall in front of you, your back leg straight, and your arms alongside your ears. Hold for five to ten breaths before moving onto the next step.
4. Low Lunge
The low lunge is known to be a great stretch for runners and yogis alike, because it helps to lengthen the hip flexors, quads, and glutes. In a water practice, it can also help you improve your cardiovascular fitness. This is because the pose requires you to hold your breath or practice controlled breathing underwater. A 2016 study in Biological Systems showed that a consistent practice of holding your breath under water not only improves lung capacity, but also reduces blood pressure.
- Begin from where you left off in crescent warrior.
- On a long, slow exhale, lower your right knee to the ground, gently press your hips forward, and reach your arms up and back.
- Hold here for a moment or two before straightening your right leg and rising up to standing again.
- Once your head reaches above water, take a long inhale.
Hold at the top for a few breaths before repeating the move. Complete five total low lunge repetitions, then repeat the crescent to low lunge sequence on the left side.
5. Dancer's Pose
Dancer, also known as Lord of the Dance, pose is a balance pose that works the muscles of your glutes, hamstrings, and back. These muscles will work just as much underwater as they do on your mat. However, you may find that the light pressure of the water on your muscles makes them more flexible. Hold for eight to ten breaths, then repeat on the other side. This pose will prepare you for the next by stretching your quads and psoas and by opening your chest.
6. Floating Upward Bow
Bow pose, typically performed on your belly, works all of the muscle in your back body. Floating upward bow gives you the opportunity to do the same, while adding a bit of playfulness.
- Begin by squatting down into chair pose.
- On an exhale, hop up and back, so you end up on top of the water.
- Quickly bend your knees, reach back, and grasp hold of your ankles.
- Draw your shoulders back and kick your feet into your hands for the full expression of the pose.
Hold for as long as you can comfortably hold your breath. Then release and return to the surface. Make sure that when you perform this pose, you are away from the walls and in water that is deep enough to avoid hitting your head on the floor or side of the pool. If you can't grab onto both ankles in time, try starting with one ankle in hand before you hop.
7. Underwater Handstand
Your advanced yoga inversion on the mat turns intermediate in the water. Handstand here requires more of an ability to hold your breath than muscular strength itself. It will also engage your back, hamstrings, and glutes on the way up, due to the resistance of the water. Stay in handstand for as long as you can hold your breath or until you fall over.
8. Floating Corpse
Of course, no yoga practice is complete without the final resting pose, corpse. Corpse is used in almost every format and is considered to be a restorative posture. It's know to help reduce headache tension, alleviate hypertension, and promote emotional healing. You can either get out of the water to rest on a raft or prop yourself above the water with pool noodles underneath your knees and arms. Stay here for three to five minutes before ending your practice.
Take Your Practice in the Water
Mix up your usual yoga practice by getting in the pool or the nearest body of water. As you move through the poses, you'll find that you feel more pliable and work different muscles than you would on dry land. For safety, make sure to practice with a friend or when a lifeguard is around. You can also check out your local swim club or fitness center to see if they offer drop-in water yoga classes.