If you're looking for a a low-impact way to work your muscles, increase your flexibility, and relax your mind, try water yoga poses for beginners. It's a great way to get in your asana practice without stressing your joints, especially if you enjoy being in the water.
Standing Side Bend
The standing side bend is a basic yoga pose often used to stretch the shoulders and work the obliques. Completing this move in the water takes the intensity up a notch because you have to firm your core muscles in order to maintain stability. If you're up for a challenge, try performing this bend with both arms up. Hold for three to five breaths on one side, then release and switch to the second.
Tree pose adds an element of balance by having you stand on one leg. In the water, your leg works to keep you from falling over. Specifically, standing tree works your ankles, glutes, inner thighs, and quads. Hold on one side for 10 to 15 breaths, then switch to the second side.
Warrior III in the water is a full body exercise. You'll need a water noodle for this one.
- Begin in mountain pose, with your hands extended out in front of you shoulder width apart, resting on the noodle.
- Apply downward pressure on the noodle and lean forward, hinging at the hips and lifting your left leg up behind you.
- Square your hips and flex your foot so that your toes are aimed toward the floor.
If done with the proper extension and a good amount of pressure, you'll work your triceps, lats, abdominals, hamstrings, glutes, and back. Hold for a minute or for up to ten breaths, then switch to the other side.
Half moon is an intermediate posture that can be pretty challenging on dry land. It requires strong legs, strong abdominals, and good balance. The water version is a bit easier to perform, due to the buoyancy the water provides. You'll need water weights for this move.
- Begin in mountain pose with your hands extended out to the sides at shoulder level, resting on water weights.
- Apply light pressure to the weights.
- Lean to the right and lift your left foot off the floor until your leg is parallel to the ground.
Stack your hips on top of one another to reach the full expression of the pose. Hold for eight to ten breaths before you try it again on the other side.
Floating tree is a fun step up from other beginner's poses because you get to float in the water.
- Begin floating on your back with your arms extended overhead and your legs extended in front of you.
- Squeeze your thighs together.
- Externally rotate your right hip as you bend at the knee, and slide your foot up your left leg as high as you can to rest on your shin or thigh.
- Bend your elbows and press your palms together in prayer position over your head.
If you have a hard time floating on your back, place your toes on the edge of the pool or rest your ankles on a noodle to keep you legs up.
Floating boat is an ideal move for strengthening your abdominals. Make sure to have a noodle with you.
- Begin standing in mountain pose with your hands out in front of your shoulders, resting on the noodle.
- Keeping your arms straight, press down on the noodle and bend your knees, lifting your feet off the floor.
- Extend through the knees, straightening both legs so that your toes are pointed up towards the sky.
If the full boat pose is too challenging, stop at step number two, with your knees bent. Once you build up enough strength, you can progress.
Cool Down While Working Out
Refresh your practice with water yoga. Performed at a much lower intensity than your typical vinyasa flow, it's a great way to mix some recovery into your routine while focusing on engaging your core. Try the poses here on your own or attend a class at your local yoga studio or fitness center.