As a holistic consultant and founder of Yoga-Water, I’ve long appreciated that practicing yoga on the water delivers many unique therapeutic benefits.
Earlier this Spring, I injured my knee taking a bad turn skiing on a black diamond in my favorite mountain in Switzerland.
After injuring my knee, I had to limit myself to a few basic movements and allow for healing and strengthening. The nature of the injury made it difficult to practice many yoga postures…basically, any asana that required kneeling.
But as soon as I could bend the knee and put more pressure on my foot, I took to the Yoga WaterMat to further strengthen my knee.
The water has always been a very healing element for me. It brings me peace. Its buoyancy supports the whole body and mind to release stress. It is very forgiving.
Unlike yoga on land or even SUP, the relative smoothness and surface softness of the Yoga WaterMat enabled me to bear weight on my knee sooner. It helped me to do my first steps in all fourth, cat and cow postures. And, as easy as those poses may look, it still took a few weeks before I could be on my knees again.
Since my initiation in Yoga as a student and as a teacher, I learned a fundamental principle: Being an advanced yogi is not shown in how much acrobacy we can do; but rather how we apply the 8 limbs of yoga in our life and the integrity of our mind-body-spirit connection through our practice.
So, rather than relying on the stability of firm ground, the floating sensation on the Yoga WaterMat required me to intentionally stabilize my base by engaging from the core through the pelvic towards my legs and feet. It clearly helped me rekindle the energy from my central nervous system towards my legs.
As a holistic therapist and consultant, I am aware that an injury’s effect is not limited to the specific injured area. It also expands through the meridians and the nervous system as all parts of the body try to compensate. In 85% of cases, it is also related to other levels of stress.
To address my specific condition (soleus, a sprained ACL, and bursitis of the knee), I incorporated therapeutic and strengthening asanas such as bhudjangasana (cobra), salabhasana (locust), Utkatasana (chair pose), Navasana (boat pose) and ardha purvottanasana with variations (table pose) into my practice.
In addition, the gentle movement of the water under the Yoga WaterMat brought support of the healing process. In seated and lying down postures such as Marishyasana III (variation in an adapted bend of the knee), Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose), and Supta Matsyendrasana (reclined spinal twist), the movement of the water gave me a gentle massage, helping release tensions. The deeper my relaxation, the deeper I could reach to access the toxins and resistance mechanisms that are stored in the physical and emotional body.
Of course, we always need to respect our body’s limits. A high level of mindfulness and attentiveness to the body is required. Patience is key and the water helped me tap that full potential within…even in a busy city life.
Now, after just three months, thanks to the deliberate and disciplined practice on the Yoga WaterMat, in combination with other exercises, I am now 90% pain free and have 90% full motion in my knee.
Having taught classes on the Yoga WaterMat to other people for therapeutic purposes, I’ve noticed great improvements and similar results. In just one example, a chronic back pain sufferer was recently referred to me. After first guiding him through some asanas to strengthen the core muscles, I taught him to breathe mindfully and to maintain awareness of the gentle floating sensation that surrounded him on the Yoga WaterMat.
He first noticed that his mind was so scattered and his stress was so high that he was not being sensitive to the slight movement of the water. But, once he became more attentive, he began to breathe deeper and felt an opening all along his nervous system and spine, which unleashed profound relief.
The water offers healing properties to release traumas or stress that are stored in the physical, energetic and emotional body. Practicing mindfully on Yoga WaterMat is a blissful and healing experience.
By Christelle Chopard
Founder of Yoga-Water