Introduction to Aqua Yoga

Saturday, March 28 2020

It’s time to take some deep breaths and relax. Good advice in difficult times like this.  The pool is an ideal place to practice yoga.  The supportive environment of water allows participants to explore postures with a greater range of motion (ROM) and confidence.  Aqua Yoga training specialist, Christa Fairbrother, takes the confidence one step further by introducing yoga basics using the pool wall for added support. 

Practicing yoga for close to 30 years, Christa is an ERYT-200/ RYT 500 teacher with Yoga Alliance and a certified Yoga for Arthritis Instructor.  Living with arthritis, Christa credits her yoga practice for providing her effective pain management skills and success in managing her disease. Aqua yoga has been integral to this journey because it is kind to joints in her body. Aqua Yoga Basics is Christa’s way of showing how easy it is for beginners to start an aqua yoga practice, while still challenging advanced practitioners with movement variations.  Being passionate about aqua yoga, Christa wants to see aqua yoga in more communities worldwide.


PoolFit:  What was your inspiration behind creating a Aqua Yoga Basics/Pool Wall?

Christa:  I’m passionate about aqua yoga and want to help as many people as possible have access to the practice.  By creating a “getting started” video that makes use of the wall, it gives people the basic introduction without needing any gear.

PoolFit:  How would you describe your approach to yoga in the water?

Christa:  For me, living with arthritis, and teaching yoga are integrated. I had arthritis for more than 20 years before I knew about it and had a hard time reconciling everything I'd achieved, and my relative lack of pain, with my joint damage. I gave my life-long yoga practice the credit, since I was only a recreational swimmer, and now I help other people get more comfort in their joints and use the tools of yoga to manage their health.  I believe aqua yoga is the best way to do that because it is kind to people's joints and is so accessible.  Because of my personal background with arthritis, I work mainly with other people who live with chronic pain.  Persistent pain patients are often poorly served by traditional yoga.  Traditional yoga encourages putting your body into shapes that may no longer be attainable.  Often these classes are working at a pace that is too fast to get in or out of those shapes, or they are going upside down a lot.  Working in the water eliminates the need to get up and down from the ground.  However, traditional aquatics classes tend to include a lot of bouncing around on the pool floor with long lever limb movements and a lot of hand and arm work amplified with props.  My approach to aqua yoga emphasizes knowing where your body is in space to build strength and balance.  I combine yoga poses that include a diverse range of modifications with the principles of aquatic exercise to encourage core strength, increase body awareness, and improve people’s balance.  I don’t want people just to get a good workout, I want them to function better in their daily lives.

PoolFit:  What do you hope aqua fitness enthusiasts take away from this video?

Christa:  As a person looking to try aqua yoga, I hope you feel empowered to add yoga to your pool practice.  In the Aqua Yoga Basics video, you’ll hear me talk about ways to keep the practice suitable to your fitness level.  Because of my background with arthritis personally and professionally, I strive to help people find the right workout for them.  The perfect combination of both no pain and a good challenge.   I show many postures you might have seen or heard of because they’re common in yoga.  Use any prior knowledge you have from other yoga teachers as you work this practice.  I believe yoga should increase your agency as a practitioner.  Use your prior yoga knowledge and what you know about your own body to make this practice right for you.  As you build your skills and confidence, you’ll be able to try even more postures.

PoolFit extends a big thank you to Christa for sharing her passion and expertise in the practice of aqua yoga. If you are an aqua enthusiast and want to increase your knowledge about the practice and benefits of aqua yoga, Christa offers a consumer course.  If you are ready to implement a yoga practice in your own pool, she also provides many other affordable poolside resources such as laminated cards that you can prop up and follow along with at your own pace and in your own preferred environment.  Stay tuned as Christa is back next month with Aqua Yoga for Arthritis. 

Author: Mark Grevelding is the founder of Fitmotivation. He is also a training specialist and consultant with the Aquatic Exercise Association’s (AEA). Mark has been active in the fitness industry for 22 years as a group fitness instructor, personal trainer, international presenter and a continuing education provider for AEA, AFAA & ACE.