Aqua Yoga – What Is It, Benefits, Poses & How to Get Started

aqua yoga

Aqua yoga combines the tranquillity of yoga with the refreshing environment of the water, creating a workout that’s as fun as it is beneficial.

As more of us look for low-impact workouts that are easy on joints, local aqua classes, including yoga and aerobics, are booming.

This guide explains everything you need to know, including what to take, benefits, things to consider and who it’s best suited to.

Quick Summary

  • Aqua yoga involves holding yoga poses in water (usually around chest-height).
  • The water helps aid balance, but also increases the resistance for some movements, changing how your muscles are engaged compared to dryland yoga.
  • It’s great for beginners or those with joint pain/discomfort.

What Exactly Is Aqua Yoga?

Aqua yoga, also known as water yoga, is a unique and exciting form of yoga that takes place in the water, typically in a swimming pool (if you’re feeling very brave, you could combine yoga with wild swimming).

The premise is simple… imagine doing your favorite yoga poses, but instead of on a mat, you’re immersed in water up to your chest.

This might sound unusual, but it’s a fantastic way to experience yoga in a whole new light, and it actually engages the muscles very differently due to the resistance created by the water.

The water also plays a supportive role, making it easier for you to balance too. This is because the buoyancy of the water reduces the effects of gravity, making you feel lighter and more flexible.

It’s almost like you’re floating, which adds a whole new dimension to your yoga practice.

Perfect for Beginners

We think aqua yoga is perfect for beginners and those with limited mobility or exercise experience. The supportive natural of the water means the risk of injury is much lower compared to dryland exercises, especially for those with joint pain or existing conditions that impact their movement.

What Should You Wear?

Since you’ll probably in a local pool, you’ll need a swimsuit.

If you’re doing it in your own pool, then free feel to wear what you please. Avoid anything that might restrict your ability to move.

Do You Need Any Equipment?

When it comes to aqua yoga, you don’t need much in terms of equipment. Most classes will focus on bodyweight movements and poses, but sometimes a buoyancy aid, like a pool noodle, might be used to help with certain poses.

Aqua Yoga Benefits

Low Impact

One of the most significant benefits of aqua yoga is that it’s low impact on joints, whilst still providing a good cardiovascular/resistance workout.

This often makes it a popular choice for people with joint pain or arthritis.

The buoyancy of the water supports your body weight, reducing the strain on your joints. This allows you to perform movements and poses that might be difficult or painful on dryland, making aqua yoga a great way to stay active and fit, regardless of any physical limitations.

Improves Strength

While the water makes some movements easier, it also adds resistance, which can help improve your strength.

Every movement you make in the water has to be against the resistance of the water, which can help build muscle strength and endurance over time.

For example, if you lift your knee up in water, your hip flexors have to work harder against the water, compared to on dryland.

A lot of aqua yoga poses require you to stabilize your body throughout too, which is a great way to engage and strengthen your core muscles.

Enhances Flexibility

The warm water in aqua yoga helps to relax your muscles, increasing your flexibility and range of motion. The buoyancy of the water also allows for a greater range of movement, enabling you to stretch further and deeper into your poses.

This can lead to improved flexibility over time, which can enhance your performance in other physical activities and reduce your risk of injuries.

Boosts Balance

Balancing in water is different from balancing on dryland.

The water’s buoyancy can make it easier to maintain poses that require balance, but the movement of the water can also add an element of challenge.

This can help improve your balance and coordination, both in and out of the water.

Promotes Relaxation

There’s something incredibly soothing about being in water. The gentle pressure of the water against your skin can have a calming effect, helping to reduce stress and promote relaxation.

The focus on breathing and movement in aqua yoga can also help quiet your mind, further enhancing its stress-relieving benefits.

Our Relationship With Water

Some research has hinted that our ancestral forefathers had a much closer relationship to water than we might have previously thought. Equally, there is a significant amount of scientific research demonstrating the positive impact water can have for mental health too.

Aids Rehabilitation

If you’re recovering from an injury or surgery, aqua yoga can be an excellent part of your rehabilitation program.

The water provides a safe, low-impact environment where you can gently start to regain flexibility, strength, and range of motion.

7 Aqua Yoga Poses to Get Started

Standing Big Toe Pose

Stand on one leg in the water, extend the other leg out in front of you, and hold onto your outstretched big toe with your fingers.

This pose helps improve balance and flexibility in the hips and legs. The water’s buoyancy makes it easier to hold this pose, allowing you to focus on stretching your muscles and maintaining your balance.

Upward Facing Dog

Use a pool noodle to support your body as you lean forward in a plank position, then drop your hips to create a gentle arch in your spine.

This pose strengthens the back and shoulders, and stretches the chest and abdomen.

The water’s resistance adds an extra challenge to this pose, helping to build strength and endurance.

Boat Pose

Hold a noodle in both hands to aid buoyancy (if needed), then activate your core to hold the pose. This pose is great for strengthening the core muscles and improving balance.

The water’s buoyancy supports your body, allowing you to hold this challenging pose with less strain on your muscles and joints.

Half Moon Pose

Stand on one leg, open your body to the side, and extend your top arm up to the sky. This pose improves balance and flexibility, and strengthens the legs and core.

You can also hold a noodle to help with balance if needed.


This one’s a bit advanced… but the water makes it easier.

Place your hands flat on the pool floor and extend your feet up towards the sky. This pose strengthens the arms and shoulders, and improves balance and coordination.

This is easier than doing a handstand on dryland, but also requires you to fully submerge your head and hold your breath for the whole time.

Tree Pose

Stand on one leg and place the other foot on your inner thigh or calf, then extend your arms up towards the sky. This pose improves balance and strengthens the legs and core.

This is a great pose for beginners. The natural movement of the water means your core has to constantly work to maintain the position.

Corpse Pose

Float on your back with the support of two noodles, one under your neck/shoulders and the other under your knees. This pose promotes relaxation and stress relief.

The gentle movement of the water enhances the calming effect of this pose, helping to soothe your mind and body.

Who’s Aqua Yoga Best Suited To?

Aqua yoga is an inclusive form of exercise that’s suitable for a wide range of people.

It’s particularly beneficial for those with joint pain or injuries, as the water’s buoyancy reduces impact and strain on the joints (also check out our wrist-friendly upper body workout).

Pregnant women and new mothers may also find aqua yoga beneficial, as it offers a gentle way to stay active and relieve discomfort.

People who have difficulty balancing can also benefit from the added support of the water and don’t risk nasty falls compared to exercising on dryland.

Who’s Aqua Yoga Not Suited To?

While aqua yoga is generally safe and beneficial for most people, it may not be suitable for everyone. If you’re uncomfortable in water or don’t know how to swim, aqua yoga might not be the best choice for you.

Additionally, if you have a medical condition that affects your ability to exercise or be in warm water, such as certain heart conditions or skin disorders, you should consult your doctor before trying aqua yoga.

Always remember to listen to your body and only do what feels comfortable and safe for you.


Can you do yoga in water?

Absolutely! That’s exactly what aqua yoga is all about. It’s a unique and fun way to practice yoga, with the added benefits of water resistance and buoyancy.

What are the best aqua yoga poses for beginners?

Some good ones to start with are the Standing Big Toe Pose, Tree Pose, and Half Moon Pose. These poses are relatively simple and the water provides extra support, making them great for beginners.

What are the benefits of aqua yoga?

Aqua yoga can help improve strength, flexibility, and balance, and it’s easy on your joints. It’s also great for stress relief and can be a beneficial part of a rehabilitation program.

Do I need to know how to swim to do aqua yoga?

Not necessarily. Most aqua yoga classes take place in shallow water where you can touch the bottom. However, you should be comfortable in water and it’s always a good idea to let your instructor know if you’re not a strong swimmer.

Bottom Line

Aqua yoga is a unique and accessible form of exercise that combines the benefits of yoga with the supportive properties of water.

With a variety of poses to try and the ability to adapt to different fitness levels, it offers a versatile workout that can be enjoyed by almost everyone.

So dive in and experience the benefits of aqua yoga for yourself!

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