Spa Yoga Workout - Hot Tub Yoga
Namaste! Welcome to my Yoga Ashram, I'm Gina, your yoga instructor. I'm qualified, I suppose, since I started my own Hot Tub Yoga program 8 weeks ago, in preparation for this blog post!
I have always been a fan of Bikram yoga, a very physical type of yoga, practiced in rooms near 100 degrees - so it was a natural transition for me to try yoga in hot water.
Yoga in a spa or hot tub is, to be honest - a bit easier than yoga on land. The buoyancy of the water, and the water's resistance, definitely make it easier to hold the poses!
When I began my personal Hot Tub Yoga Studio, I started out by doing the poses that I was most familiar with What evolved was my own brand of Sivananda Yoga - (a series of linked asanas and pranayamas), or sets of poses and breathing exercises.
My spa isn't big enough to do some fully stretched out poses, and of course, seated poses and many inverted positions are difficult to do underwater. So, after much trial and error, here are some tried and true yoga sequences that can be done in your hot tub.
My yoga warm-up is more of a relaxation exercise, to prepare the body and mind for the sequences to follow. I sit cross-legged on the lounge seat of the spa, very straight and tall, in the Lotus position. Hands facing up, I begin rhythmic breathing, deep into my belly first. As the breathing becomes deeper, I fill my mid-chest and eventually my upper chest during each breath. Exhaling slowly and fully, this is known as the full Yogi breath. 8-10 full, slow breaths and I open my eyes and unfold my legs.
Hot Tub Yoga Warm-Up
Next - with the bathtub mat I bought placed on the spa floor, I kneel on the floor of my spa, in the Vajrasana or Rock pose. The water level forces me to sit nice and straight, with my toes bent under and my rump resting on my heels. After a few relaxing breaths, I push my hands up straight while inhaling, up toward the sky. Leaning and reaching back to full extension, I exhale as I bring my hands back into the prayer-like Namaste pose.
Spa Yoga Routines
Breath: Standing up in the center of the spa, I begin a series of repeated movements. The first set is part of a Sun Salutation, and is similar to the kneeling warm-up routine. As I stretch toward the sky, it's helpful to imagine a rope around my wrists, pulling me up straight and tall. Repeating the set 5 times, very slowly and precisely, focusing on my breathing. Inhale as I open up tall, exhale as my head goes under water.
Balance: Up until now, at the half point of my yoga workout, it's been relaxing, with a focus on the breath, and clearing my mind with the clutter of the day. Now I turn to my balance routine. You can mix it up with different poses that seem to work best for you.
Yoga, for me, has a goal of perfection - unattainable perfection perhaps, but nonetheless, and as I hold a pose, I try to be perfectly straight and balanced - with a clear mind, breathing deeply, in and out of each position.
Brawn: Time to kick it up a notch. Now that I am fully limber, and beginning to break a sweat, it's time for some strength conditioning. The next set of poses that I link together use muscles that I hadn't used in years - but after a few weeks, they stopped complaining after workouts. Some of these strength yoga poses involve the benches in the hot tub, as support.
These poses during the "Brawn" phase of the workout, are held for a longer time than the previous sets. Once you gain balance, focus the breath, and hold the pose for as long as you comfortably can.
I've added some Pilates moves to my hot tub workout. One new favorite is using a Pilates ball, and with straight arms and locked elbows, push the ball partially under water for 3 or 4 breaths. After several rounds, I move the ball to my toes and hold it under water with feet (harder than it sounds!) while floating on my back (planking!), supported by my hands on the spa bench. Breathe.
Hot tub yoga - this has been a fun experiment. I have to say - after 2 months of doing spa yoga, my hot tub and I have reconnected, and I am toned in areas that just aren't touched with other forms of exercise. As an added benefit, the meditative breathing really takes the stress off, and gives me such an energy boost.
I hope you'll try hot tub yoga soon - if you have, and have some tips to share, please comment below!
Hot Tub Works
yoga pose graphics created by AskAboutHugo