It’s summer. Temperatures are rising. But that shouldn’t stop us from exercising. So, what do we do? Get into the water and workout. How? Welcome to the world of aqua yoga.

Pratibha Agarwal, who is trained in aqua yoga, tells us more about what this new trend is all about. “In water, we do the same asanas, but the practice turns absolutely different. Some postures become very easy and some become very challenging. Since there is force of water, balancing gets difficult; this then requires you to engage body muscles a little more. Now this means water yoga actually activates the muscles a lot more, in turn improving and increasing flexibility. And doing all this in water is fun, I assure you.”

One of the best postures in aqua yoga is shavasana. With the help of a water noodle, this asana helps the person to stay afloat. It not just looks beautiful but is also very relaxing. Close your eyes and visualise a beach, feel the breeze touch your skin. Let the water caress you and soothe your senses. Now would you want this asana to end?

“It’s cathartic,” says Pratibha, “It is what I call water therapy. We are made of five elements — earth, water, fire, air, and space. And water occupies a lot of space in our body, deficiency of which results in diseases. During aqua yoga, when you get your body inside water, the body not only gets a lot of hydration, it also helps combat water deficiency-related diseases. And this is a proven method — a method used at many rejuvenation centres, where as part of the therapy, you are advised to soak yourself in a tub of water.”

With the heat beating us bad, we are always looking at ways to beat it back, and what better way than jumping into a pool and working out at the same time? The best part about aqua yoga is that you need not know how to swim. The asanas are done only in four-feet-deep water. And it’s absolutely safe.

“We try out some acro yoga postures, especially with partners. For example, there is this particular posture which requires one person to sit on a chair and the other to place their feet on the person’s thighs and stand. On a mat, there is a risk of falling and hurting yourself, but in water, even if you fall, there is no risk of getting hurt. So, one can actually be adventurous because you have the water to cushion you,” says Pratibha, who learned aqua yoga in Goa from a trainer from London.

She has been teaching yoga for the last 10years, but says aqua yoga came to be known only about five to eight years back, and is gaining popularity in India only now. However, she insists that aqua yoga became a fad much earlier abroad.

“It’s interesting to note that yoga, which was born in India, was popularised by Westerners, only after which we woke up to it again. When I went to the US to learn yoga, it gave me a different perspective. There I learned how to feel the muscles during various asanas, and not just feel the posture,” she says, adding, “Now that I take aqua classes for the summer, I have seen a lot of senior citizens enthusiastic about it. Of course, so are the youngsters, who come with two major goals — weight loss or stress relief. We encourage a lot of partner workouts in water, so you have support and balance. And when you have a synchronised sequence of asanas with music playing in the background, aqua yoga becomes all the more fun.” She urges everyone to try it out and see for themselves.

Though most of the yoga postures can be adapted in aqua yoga, every trainer has the responsibility of ensuring to include only those that work with the people they are training. “We are not really looking at the advanced postures in water. We give them the basic ones, and we make sure to work the limbs a lot, including walking in water as a warm-up workout. Because of resistance from water, you end up working out your legs, hips and thighs a lot more than you would have on a mat. Also, because you want to remain longer in water as it is hot outside, you also end up working out longer.” However, one must not forget that in water, you tend to get fatigued too. So, a good workout would be anything between 40minutes to one and a half hours including warm-ups and relaxing.

Pratibha adds that she has seen a drastic change in Hyderabad in terms of the increasing number of people pouring in to learn yoga. “When I began training, Zumba was the big fad. But now we also have Zumba trainers coming to us to learn yoga. Like I said, yoga has come a full circle from where it began.”

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