Picture via Flickr — by Jon Olav Eikenes
Written by Patricia Sarmiento, guest blogger
I haven’t always consistently practiced yoga and meditation, but I have always appreciated what they did for my body – emotionally, physically and mentally.
Following the birth of my daughter, feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, I began to struggle with depression. My first instinct was to jump in the pool. Swimming has always served as a great way for me to clear my head. And as this article explains—“Depression & Swimming”—it has a proven ability to relieve depression symptoms. However, I also knew that yoga and meditation would be a huge help to me so I thought about how I could combine the healing powers of all three.
First, I did a little research. Then, one day after a swim, when I had the pool to myself, I ran through a few water poses I had seen online. And it was fantastic. I knew that day that for me swimming, yoga, and meditation were the trifecta that could get me back on my feet and feeling happy and positive.
Here are a few benefits of doing yoga and meditation in the pool:
Improve your breathing. Learning proper breathing techniques is a key aspect of swimming, yoga, and meditation. And focused breathing is one reason why they all help with anxiety and depression. HowStuffWorks.com points out that the deep, rhythmic breathing needed for swimming can actually trigger a physiological relaxation response. It has worked wonders for me in my yoga practice. I find that it’s much easier for me to focus on my breathing after I’ve been swimming than if I jump right into a yoga routine.
Experience meditation in calm waters. The sound, the feel, the weightlessness. These are all reasons I’ve found swimming to be such a mental booster. I’ve also found that those calm waters are a great place to meditate. When I was researching water yoga routines, I came across this excellent resource. It opened my eyes to two ways of meditating in the pool, floating and sinking. I think being in the water actually helps me get to a place where I can truly free my mind of thought much more quickly than when I meditate on land.
Achieve those challenging poses. I’m not super flexible, so, there were several yoga poses that I would dread whenever I took a yoga class. I knew I just wouldn’t be able to bend my way into them. And while being in the water doesn’t mean I get every pose on the first try, it has certainly made them more attainable. The added benefit is the self-confidence boost I get whenever I successfully do a new pose. That feeling of achievement has been great for my mental health.
Get a positivity boost. The reason exercise of any kind can be so effective at helping with depression is because it releases endorphins that make us feel good. And that’s why I like to swim a few laps to clear my mind before I do yoga, whether it’s inside or outside the pool. I find that the swim gets me in the right place mentally so that I can get the full anxiety-relieving benefits of my yoga and meditation practice.
I can’t stress enough how valuable incorporating yoga and meditation into my swimming routine has been for me. They helped me get back on my feet after my daughter was born, and they continue to help me stay focused, positive, and healthy.
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Patricia Sarmiento is an avid swimmer and runner. She channels her love of fitness and wellness into blogging about health and health-related topics. She played sports in high school and college and continues to make living an active lifestyle a goal for her and her family. She lives with her husband, two children, and their shih tzu in Maryland.