If you’re an aquatic PT or OT, you might think aqua yoga has no value since you already have a great collection of stretches for your clients. The new book, Water Yoga, shows you how aqua yoga can contribute to your work beyond just body shapes with animal names and gives you another tool in your professional toolbox.
For example, getting people to do their homework between sessions is an ongoing struggle. If they feel that the work is familiar to them and something they already have some understanding of, they’re more likely to do it. Yoga is the most common complementary health practice practiced by an estimated 40 million Americans. For your clients who already practice yoga, if you help them see the parallels between what you offer and what they already do in yoga, they’re more likely to do their homework and continue long-term preventative measures.
Aqua yoga is a whole-person practice, giving you tools to help people with their body awareness and mind/body connection. You often don’t have the time to talk about anything beyond the specific exercises that go with a client’s diagnosis. A client with carpal tunnel might have gotten that from an unergonomic workspace and horrible posture. Your billing code doesn’t empower you to have a conversation about working shorter hours or how to stand up straight with external shoulder rotation to prevent a frozen shoulder on top of carpal tunnel. By using the tools of yoga, while staying in your billing code, you can help people build better interoceptive and proprioceptive body awareness to heal faster and prevent another injury.
Aqua yoga also gives you a framework to have conversations with people who are frequent clients due to overexercising. Say a person with plantar fasciitis who won’t cut back on their running. Yoga philosophy helps people learn discernment around their choices. While you’re giving people information about what they need to do to heal, you can overlay that with information to empower people to make different life choices so they don’t end up in your office again. It gives you a tool to help people change their approach to their bodies while staying in your scope of practice.
And it gives you a great way to take care of yourself and avoid burnout. Ruth Sova, founder of both the Aquatic Exercise Association and the Aquatic Therapy and Rehab Institute, says in the book’s introduction, “We are better at sharing when we’re healthy and have personally experienced the benefits.”
Christa Fairbrother, MA, ERYT 200/500, ATRIC, AFP, AFAP, is an internationally recognized aqua yoga coach and trainer. She makes her home in Florida with her husband, two sons, and piles of books with tea stains.