As February temperatures (on the island) invite the bloom of spring like activities, yoga in the pool has re-surfaced. Thus, after a brief “winter” slumber, H3 is happy to place pool yoga back on the weekly schedule! Today for Fitness Friday, I thought it appropriate to inspire and share five common pool yoga postures that will help you increase your flexibility, ROM (range of motion) and QOL (quality of life). So open your yoga mind- no mat necessary- plunge IN, and stretch ON!
#1 Mountain Pose
Standing in the shallow end of the pool, stand with your feet pelvic distance apart and or together- keeping your big toes parallel to one another. Spread your toes, and begin to ground/establish your foundation. Engage your ankles, shins, calves, simply bring awareness to “zipping them up”. Engage the upper leg (quadriceps) and internally rotate them toward one another without bowing the knees. Tuck your tail bone under and pull your low belly in. Be mindful to keep your pelvic bowl neutral. Broaden across your collar bone, creating a little uplift in your heart. Lift your chin parallel with the pool floor beneath you. Allow your hand to drop by your sides, palms facing outward (creating space and openness in your shoulders). Shoulder up back and down, close your eyes. Acknowledge the strength, the connectedness of standing still, strong, and healthy. Hold this posture for 6-8 breaths.
As we eagerly invite the water element into our yoga practice, cobra in the pool encourages and allows us to stretch further without the floor beneath us hindering our range of motion. To perform cobra, stand with your feet about 2 feet from the pool wall. Place your hands and forearms flat against the wall/side ledge. Look up, keep your abdominals engaged but allow the natural curative of your spine to sway slightly back. Broaden across your collar bone as you drop your shoulders back and down. If done correctly, this posture will help to stretch your abs. To increase the intensity of the stretch, consider rising up onto your toes. Hold cobra for 6-8 breathes.
#3 Chair Pose
Stand with your feet together, big toes mounds touching. Inhale, reach your arms up to the sky- exhale sink your bum back and down as if you were sitting in an imaginary chair. Keep your arms outstretched and reaching up. Tuck your tail bone under, pull your low belly in, hug your thighs and knees together, and place your weight back in your heels. Be mindful that your knees do not come over your toes. If this seems to be an issue, think about shifting your bum down and back more- keeping the weight in the heels.
This posture will help to strength your knees and the supporting muscles and joints. Hold chair pose for 6-8 breaths.
When performing stork pose in the pool, the water makes it easier to hold the posture as well as balance, resultantly you get a deeper stretch. To engage in stork pose, stand tall- lift up your right leg with your knee bent. Lift the knee/leg until the thigh is parallel to the pool bottom. Press your left heel into the pool floor to create a solid foundation for the posture. Be mindful to not hyperextend the supporting leg. Stand firm, but hold a slight bend. To deepen the posture, grab your right big toe with your right hand, than attempt to straighten your right leg out in front of you. If current flexibility does not permit extension- use the side of the pool/railing/bar and rest your foot. Keep dorsiflexion in the outstretched foot, meaning flex your foot (toes to your shin), reaching out through the heel to increase the stretch and length in the hamstrings. Hold for 6-8 breaths.
Triangle pose helps to liberate the side body. To engage in triangle pose in the pool, stand an arm’s length distance away from the wall. With your right arm straight and your right fingers touching the wall. Spread your legs 3 feet apart and bring your left arm up, bending to your right. Try to reach your left hand up and over to touch the wall. Be mindful of keeping your left foot down. Open your chest to the sky to promote a better stretch in the side body. Hold for 6-8 breaths.
Note: Holding the pool wall lets you stretch without having to hold yourself up.
#6 Corpse Pose
Simply float on your back. Arms down by your side and palms facing up. If you need to place a floatation device (noodle, float, etc.) under you to help you stay afloat and restful.