This is the fourth post in a weekly series about Aqua Kriya Yoga. You can read about aqua yoga and how it’s great for buoyancy and balance work. When you change the planes of your yoga practice, good things happen.
Amy Cuddy, Harvard Business School professor, has research that demonstrates a fascinating link between holding the body in a “power position” and building confidence. Cuddy’s research is often cited as a way to pump yourself up before a big presentation or job interview, but the same ideas can be applied to running the gauntlet of everyday life.
One of my favorite yoga asanas is Goddess Pose, as it requires concentration on many of the physical elements of my every day life: strong legs, a long, tall spine. and an open chest. With a lifted heart and ready hands, I can get through even the toughest day, knowing that I have the strength within myself to do so.
The challenge of Goddess Pose is that it can be hard to sustain. Even in the above photo, I could be lower into the squat to feel more of a release in the tailbone and lengthen the spine. Let’s try again:
Better here, especially with the consciously-raised chin, but I can see my legs are working so hard here that I’m collapsing the tiniest bit forward into my chest.
Yoga can be simple; yoga can also be hard.
There are a lot of moving parts–so to speak– even in these static poses. Taking them into the pool can help get all the parts into the right place. Remember how I talked about the great benefits of buoyancy and balance with regard to aqua yoga? Goddess Pose is one of the asana that, when done in the pool, can be held for longer (thanks to the water bearing some of the bodyweight). It can, therefore, give you time to better organize your body and appreciate the full expression of the posture.
Even more, the water can help you push the asana into deeper bodywork. For example, because it’s easier on the big muscles in the low body to do the work of Goddess Pose in the pool, it can be held long enough to transition into a side body stretch.
The knees are still bent, the glutes are still working hard, the feet are still bearing equal weight, the chest is still open and lifted– but now the side body receives a lengthening, too. Breathing deeply in this posture, one can feel both strengthening (in the legs) and relaxation (in the chest and side body) at the same time.
I particularly like taking Goddess Pose into the pool because of the benefits women tell me they feel when working in water. The freedom of movement we feel in the water allows one to feel confident in her body in a way that we usually do not on land. This confidence creates a deeper breathing pattern, re-energizing the body on a cellular level.
Also, our bodies are primarily made of water. By holding Goddess Pose in the water, we are connecting our outer and inner strength in a physical way. For perimenopausal women, expressing the Goddess in the pool builds muscular strength and internal heat without the annoying side-effect of sweating.
What can be greater than feeling confident and strong?
I dare you to try Goddess Pose aqua yoga style and NOT feel like you can take on the world afterwards. Check out the nationwide aqua kriya yoga class listings, or if you’re in Austin, leave a comment to join in my Wednesday evening class.
Note that the deep squat of Goddess Pose is contraindicated for women in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy unless the baby is known to be vertex.