Over the years, the swimming pool has transformed from an ordinary aquatic playground to a ‘gym’ of sorts as fitness enthusiasts found it a suitable space for exercising and working out, resulting in what is now generally termed as ‘aqua fitness’. Although there are plenty of exercise programs and workout routines that can be performed in the swimming pool, two of the most popular nowadays are aqua yoga and aqua Pilates. But what exactly are these and how do they differ from one another? More importantly, which of these two exercise programs should you do?
What Is Aqua Yoga?
Simply put, aqua yoga is a type of yoga where the poses are performed in the water. As you may have already guessed from the name, aqua yoga adapts the postures and principles of land-based yoga, including mindfulness, breathing, and others. This type of yoga can be performed in any aquatic environment, such as a swimming pool or a beach. But what makes doing yoga on the water better than actually doing it on land?
Perhaps the main advantage of doing yoga on the water is that you can take advantage of the water’s buoyancy. Because of that, much of the stress is relieved from the joints and helps improve balance, thus making some poses much easier. And being a low-impact activity, it can be particularly helpful to those who are struggling to perform yoga on land.
Doing yoga on the water also helps on the mental, emotional and spiritual levels. Some say that being on the water allows them to connect with nature on a deeper level, which in turn helps them become more absorbed with the experience. Being immersed in water is also more relaxing for most yogis, and thus improves the soothing and restorative effects of yoga. So if you’re looking for a new way to relax aside from sunbathing on a pool float or lounging under the pool umbrella, then why not consider doing aqua yoga instead.
What Is Aqua Pilates?
Many people prefer doing aqua Pilates (also called water Pilates or pool Pilates) because the almost zero-gravity aquatic environment challenges their stability and core strength in such a way that ordinary Pilates cannot. Although being immersed in water makes movements easier on the joints, the water also provides some sort of resistance to make moving more challenging. This comes with the additional benefit of working your muscles.
In aqua Pilates, participants make use of traditional Pilates exercise equipment like rings, myoballs, foam rollers, and others. However, they also make use of other equipment like pool noodles, water weights, and others. The swimming pool’s walls and floors are also utilized either to provide resistance or for assistance.
Because the exercises are performed standing up in chest-deep waters, you don’t need to learn how to swim to participate in the program. However, it would still be better if you know how to swim since this will make you feel more comfortable, and thus focus more on the exercises than worrying, in the water.
Which One Should You Do?
Taking all of the above into consideration, it’s safe to say that one aqua fitness program is not necessarily better than the other. When you look at it more closely, you will see that both aqua yoga and aqua Pilates offer excellent health benefits. Sure, aqua yoga may appear more beneficial for those who are looking for a relaxing exercise and improving their flexibility while aqua Pilates may be more suitable for those who are looking to tone their core. However, at the very center of both aqua fitness programs is general health and well-being, training the person to be more mindful and improve their breathing, balance, strength, and flexibility. Besides, if you tried both aqua yoga and aqua Pilates, you’ll notice that some of their moves and poses actually overlap.
If you’re not sure which aqua fitness program to sign up for, considering giving both a try. In fact, many experts recommend doing so since improving in one program will help you improve in the other. For instance, when you strengthen your core by doing aqua Pilates, you will have better control and balance while doing yoga. Also, by making your body more flexible through aqua yoga you will be able to move better and deeper with a full range of motion during aqua Pilates.
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As you can see, both aqua yoga and aqua Pilates have tons of health benefits to offer, and when it comes to fitness none is actually better than the other. All in all, the choice between which of the two one should do is a matter of personal preference. Of course, several factors may influence one’s decision to choose one over the other, but that doesn’t mean that the preferred aqua fitness program is generally better. If you’re still not sure which one to do, then you should consider attending both classes. More often than not, you’ll be able to figure out which is more enjoyable and more suitable for you.
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