If you practice yoga, you will hardly resist the challenge of trying to do asanas in water. Moving in the water, swimming, exercising, splashing on the waves or indulging in hydromassage jets, are beneficial for the whole organism. There is no need to talk about how we feel in seawater – our bodies are mostly water, and our blood is chemically very close to the sea, to the extent that in emergencies seawater can be given instead of blood or plasma.
If there are elementary conditions for exercising (primarily the bottom without unpleasant surprises, minimal distractions), nothing special is needed for your wrestling and swimming to be a yoga practice. Take advantage of the morning on the beach, or the evening when there is no crowd. Completely indulge in water, listen to your body and breathing, enjoy exploring. Whether your practice will be yogic depends on your internal rather than external conditions.
You can learn many things from your body by exercising in water. Pay attention to how the body aligns from the inside to the outside, and what is involved in that process. Allow the body to adapt to the circumstances, the water element, and the given moment.
Be sure to wet your face – only then does your body know it is in the water. You will awaken the innate reflex that we share with all mammals, which will reduce the number of heartbeats. As a result, oxygen will be more accessible to the organs.
The principles on which your yoga practice is based will be seriously shaken, especially if you adhere to strict rules of alignment, or you are a follower of a yoga school that adheres to a certain order or manner of performing asanas. If you want to bring yoga into the water, forget about all the so-called principles and rules. The poses in the water change quite a bit, even when they look like their terrestrial originals. The main reason for that, of course, is the loss of relations with the earth and gravity. The far higher viscosity of the water makes it difficult and significantly slows down the movement. Water creates the illusion that we have mastered gravity, and suddenly we become light and floating. The support is significantly weakened, and we may have lost it completely. We may even have the impression that we can do much more than on dry land. The fluid element excites the same in us, and that is why many of us feel like fish in the water.
The musculoskeletal system is differently engaged in water. The spine will be moved in a different, more relaxed way, because it is more unburdened, like all bones. The joints enjoy the water; pay extra attention to them, treat them to additional hydrotherapy with the simplest rotation of your ankles and wrists, circle your head, shoulders, hips, pelvis…
In standing poses, the water takes over the weight of the upper part of the body, and the legs and pelvis are relieved. There is an opportunity for a deeper opening of the hips, pelvis, relaxation of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Deepen the warriors, the goddess, the steps… Experiment with the depth of the water depending on what you want to emphasize in the pose: the deeper, the easier, but more inconvenient for balance. Opening the center is crucial for all yoga poses. In addition to flexibility, its strength is also important: use the apparent lightness and do exercises for the abdominal muscles. Just maintaining the body without touching the bottom requires the involvement of the abdominal muscles.
Balance is a challenge in the water, whether you touch the bottom, or play trying to perform a “floating” water balance. Our body is taught to align with the earth and gravity. Balancing in the water will not let you think, even when the conditions are ideal – without waves.
For inverted poses… take a deep breath!
Shavasana is a mandatory ending. Complete relaxation in the water is a challenge in itself. Indulge in water, but stay present, because water knows how to carry.
Keep in mind that in the water your flexibility is different. The warmer the water, the less this worry. Be careful with the lotus and the fish in the lotus.
Swimming is a great meditation in action. You can start and end your practice in the water by swimming. Allow the body to establish a rhythm of movement and breathing, and to change it. Listen to your breathing, the bubbling of bubbles as you exhale. Gradually lower your attention down your body, from the top of your head to your toes. By combining asanas and swimming, find the combination that suits you best. Don’t construct, but indulge and improvise. You can’t go wrong. Swim in the style that suits you best and that is the least strenuous for you: “female”, crawl, breaststroke, backstroke.
Seawater is the perfect opportunity for the devil to hide. Swim to the depths, so as not to inhale sunscreen.
When you go out to dry, lie down on warm sand, gravel, rock, grass to regain grounding. Immerse yourself in your own fluid lightness.