Cool Yoga. ~ Camella Nair

Via on Jul 18, 2012
Photo: Craig Kelman

Summer is here and it’s time to think about cooling down our yoga practice…and maybe even taking it off of the mat and into the pool!

As a yoga teacher, I understand that low summer attendance in classes can be sporadic, with many students taking time off to ferry the kids to summer camps or heading out of town for an eagerly anticipated family vacation.

Perhaps it’s time to redefine where one can practice yoga?

The swimming pool is a super place to explore yoga asana, especially during the summer months, when pool access is much easier and the temperature starts to climb. Who needs a heated practice as pitta continues to accumulate in the body and may release pitta-related symptoms, such as skin eruptions and quick tempers?

Yoga in the water can actually be a gift.

The cooler surface temperature when we step into it helps to cultivate an automatic lift of the perineum and rib cage. This lengthening of the spine can help to create a sense of well being, as any erroneous breathing patterning can be addressed as the body finds an improved alignment.

Water fitness enthusiasts have enjoyed exclusive class time in many pools for years—but that is about to change with the interest of aqua yogaas well as other modalities in the water (other than aerobic exercise.)

If the pool temperature is eighty-four degrees or above, then yoga in the pool may be a very welcome change of venue for a yogi. Outdoor pools provide a natural setting that replaces studio ceilings with the summer sky and the warm summer breeze can make the practice more pleasurable, bringing us into closer harmony with Mother Nature.

If you are in a vacation destination with a pool, they may offer some scheduled classes but if not, during quiet times, why not consider taking your practice into the pool? You may deepen your understanding of how prana is moving, and even improve your concept of the pose and how energy moves within the body, in a well-articulated pose.

It can be a truly delicious way of expressing yoga and one that may even introduce new students to consider a yoga practice—it could even extend your student base!

As well as the seasoned yogi taking their practice into the water, people with joint issues, those recovering from an injury or are out of shape generally can benefit from trying some yoga poses, paired with with focus on the breath. If you are vacationing with family members and you practice or teach yoga, suggest some poses that family members can try. This can bring our practice to family members that might never venture into a yoga studio—and be a fun way to play together!

Photo: Flickr/penny

Kids especially can enjoy many of poses in the water, in a sort of show and copy arena. They are usually more than willing to try new things and it could be a fun way to introduce yoga to them. If they are good swimmers, they are more likely to be able to practice handstands under the water—see who can get the legs up the straightest!

If you have your own pool, you are truly blessed…perhaps consider hosting an aqua yoga class! Other things that are wonderful about doing yoga in the pool?

The full moon can be a special time, especially for women’s gatherings. Asana, moon bathing and candlelit hot tub chanting session can be electrifying. A super way to gather students and friends and celebrate the summer season of growth and abundance.

Photo: Craig Kelman

Foam noodles can help people to float (if that is an issue) and this can allow a student to bob softly in the water, listening to the sounds through the medium of the water. Chanting the mantric sound ‘mmmmmm’ is simple and an effective way to quieten the mind. A lovely way to end the day before a summer BBQ perhaps or even before bedtime.

All this is really about is change—we need to be adaptable as yoga teachers and students—especially as the temperature starts to climb.

Consider transferring your practice into othe pool…you might just be pleasantly surprised!

Camella Nair is an ordained Swami in the Kriya Yoga tradition and has been practicing yoga since she was 17. She has written two books on yoga, Aqua Kriya Yoga and Prenatal Kriya Yoga, as well as an online course on the yoga sutras, which is part philosophy and part cooking. She lives with her two teenage sons in the Bay Area. She can be reached via email, at camyoga@gmail.com or friend her on Facebook.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
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