Aqua yoga is a form of yoga that is practiced in the water, usually in a swimming pool. Many classic yoga poses are adapted to be performed in the water instead of on dry land. Many people prefer aqua yoga to traditional yoga because of its unique benefits, whereas others use it as a jumping-off point for getting into traditional studio yoga classes.
Aqua yoga classes usually take place in the shallow end of a pool, in water between waist-high and chest-high, depending on the intensity desired. Shallower water makes most poses more difficult, whereas the deeper water takes stress off the joints and supports the body better. An instructor leads the class in performing several poses that require strength and balance, but generally not as much as you would need to hold them on dry ground. Some water yoga poses also take advantage of the resistance and weight of water pushing on the body in all directions to add more dimensions to the exercise.
Aqua yoga is helpful for individuals who cannot perform yoga on land for a variety of reasons. For example, pregnant women are often unable to hold poses, but they can still do them in water yoga. This helps them to keep exercising during pregnancy and continue the practice of yoga that they are accustomed to. Aqua yoga is also helpful for beginners who fear that they will fall over when attempting yoga poses. The poses are less difficult in the pool and the water helps cushion any falls. The other main categories of people who benefit are those with osteoporosis, arthritis or other bone or joint problems that make high-impact and high-stress exercise impossible. Practicing yoga in the pool reduces joint stress and is a good substitute for higher-impact exercises.