Have you ever imagined what it would be like to be that gorgeous girl on stage swinging her body through hoops and bending every which way while doing so? Take an aerial yoga class! Apart from the lack of stage lights and over the top costume (which no one would stop you from wearing by the way) its as close to being acrobats as we can get without actually becoming acrobats.
Aerial Yoga takes its origins from the circus acts and involves a series of exercises inspired in part by Pilates, yoga, aerial acrobatics and calisthenics in a hammock like apparatus. It is practiced to achieve a total body workout.
Aerial yoga combines the asanas we have grown used to in traditional mat yoga and the gorgeous hammocks designed to aid our movements. With the help of these beautiful silky creations, gravity and our natural playfulness we can learn to explore fluidity in our movements and create space in our bodies without compressing the spine and joints. It takes a little for the body to adjust to the new sensations of a different practice but once it does you discover that you can feel like you’re flying long after you leave the hammock behind you in class.
Here's a breakdown on how it works: You sit on a soft, fabric hammock that looks more like a bed sheet that a traditional hammock. The hammocks are made out of a high-density nylon material that can hold up over 2,000 pounds! Then you do a number of traditional poses using the hammock as a prop and some poses adapted for the aerial style.
So what are the benefits?
Apart from being super fun and exciting, aerial yoga has also been proven to be very useful for those of us with certain injuries, chronic pains and other elements in those categories as, in an aerial yoga class, we are able to not put pressure on certain joins for example enabling those of us who suffer from joint problems to easily participate in the class.
Another benefit is better focus, when we first get into this practice you can feel out of your element. As in, you are used to being right side up and now, you are not. Which really engages our little brain sensors that tell us when we should focus, stay in control, stay calm and be mindful. You will likely perfect your concentration skills fast while hanging upside down.
Of course it’s a great workout, while your mind is working hard - your muscles are working even harder. Aerial yoga is generally a great core workout due to the fact that you have to engage your core muscles to balance and stabilize yourself during certain asanas.
Last but not least, its a stress relief! Hanging upside down with a few friends on a Sunday morning sounds fun doesn't it? The atmosphere in most aerial yoga classes is more relaxed and energetic than the traditional kind, which isn’t to say you won’t be able to relax. On the contrary, being comfortable to laugh and play around with a new style can bring out the child in all of us and certainly help us let go of the responsibilities we old over us, if only for an hour.
Aerial yoga might seem a bit intimidating at first glance but it can be incredibly rewarding and fun. Give it a try, and you just might discover your favorite form of exercise yet.
Next week tune in for our 10 TIPS FOR YOUR NEXT AERIAL YOGA CLASS!