When I saw Yoqua on my gym schedule I thought it must be a typo, but upon googling I found it’s actually “the latest fusion concept from the USA!” The last fusion concept I entertained was the cronut, and since that was an astounding success I expected good things from this Yoqua. It turns out it’s the slightly less delicious, but still nutritious, fusion of water and yoga.
With dreams of cronut fresh on my mind, I decided to check out a mid-day Yoqua class. There was only one other person in the class to embark on the journey with me. To paint a logistical picture– my fellow Yoqua-er and I stood in 4 feet of water near the edge of the pool and faced our instructor. Let the Yoqua commence:
As we began our poses one large difference between land based yoga and Yoqua became clear—the lifeguard. I assume the lifeguard was legally required to be in the room, and since this was a wading pool adjacent to the lap pool, the room was quite small. Normally yoga is done in a small, softly lit studio, but unlike Yoqua, a stranger doesn’t slowly walk laps around that studio while the rest of you are in Mountain Pose. I know he was just doing his legal duty, but it’s a difference worth noting. Occasionally the lifeguard settled at the back as a silent observer, reflecting in the glass in front of me. If you find a silent beacon of judgement reflecting in front of you endearing, this class may be for you.
Right when we began I noticed you could hear another class going on in the larger pool next door. Also the lighting was quite bright and not the pan flute-filled cave of zen a normal class is. I’m not saying the YMCA should reconstruct their pool into a calm, dimly lit grotto with gently cascading waterfalls (OK I am). It’s just something to be aware of if you prefer your yoga without fluorescent lighting.
The water does make it harder to balance than you would think, but I mostly struggled because the pool sloped gently backwards so you were always on a slight incline. Additionally, it was hard to get into any good poses and hold them because of the water. Any pose that required large parts of your body to be submerged (think standing on one leg and then leaning forward) would cause your anchor leg to start floating up as the rest of you entered the water.
For me the fun of yoga is challenging yourself and then self-righteously declaring to all your friends, family and random strangers the next day “Yoga is harder than you think!” So if you’re ok with that being eliminated, this class might work for you.
Going in I was curious what types of poses we would accomplish in 4 feet of water. It turns out, not that many! At no point did we submerge our heads under water, so traditional favorites like downward facing dog and child’s pose were eliminated. We did do a modified downward dog where we leaned against the pool wall at a 90 degree angle, but it was not as challenging. We also attempted a squatting warrior twist, but leaning into the twist so much of me was submerged that my feet started floating again, thus ruining the pose.
One highlight was Tree Pose. For the uninitiated that’s the pose where you stand on one leg with the other leg bent and balanced on the standing leg. The water actually makes the Tree Pose easier. Usually it’s the part in class where I actively will someone else to crumble before I do, but not so in Yoqua.
The most enjoyable part was the last pose of the class: Shavasana. To complete it you lean your head on the pool wall, put a floating barbell under your knees, and float on the pool for a solid 5 minutes. This is all while knowing it technically counts as exercise because you’re at group exercise class.
You wear a bathing suit to Yoqua, so that’s one less dirty gym outfit you have to wash!
This is a definitely a gentle class that may be good for someone with joint trouble or difficulty doing other classes. Overall it was not challenging enough as an exercise, and that’s coming from someone who has been sore after bowling. I guess I’ll have to stick to good old land based yoga. So terrestrial!