Aerial Yoga, also known as aerial fitness or hammock yoga, is a form of fitness practice that is airborne. It involves supporting your body weight with a silk hammock that is usually suspended from the ceiling. The practice is unlike the traditional yoga that is done by stretching out on a mat spread on the floor.
Aerial yoga classes encompass elements like dancing, pirating, acrobatics and gymnastics in a style that works against gravity. Though aerial yoga centers on airborne movements, there’s still some floor work involved. There is an area of aerial yoga that requires the use of the hammock as well as the floor. In progressive classes however, you’ll have to be in the air for the entire time.
Being a low impact practice, it is ideal for those with joint issues but are interested in moving their bodies. They can be able to create space in their bodies without tightening their joints, while using gravity and suspension. Besides being a joint pain relief practice, there are other benefits exclusive to aerial yoga.
The Benefits of Aerial Yoga
1. Developing Your Upper Body
Aerial yoga, unlike the traditional yoga, will help to strengthen your upper body without impacting on your joints. Holding onto the silk hammock to obtain the necessary support involves the shoulders, abs and arms. This is what increases the upper body core strength. There’s also an increase of blood flow to the back, as a result of the inversions you’ll do with the hammock, whereby your chest opens up making the heart go above the head.
2. You Get a Chance to Do Supported Inversions
It’s only with aerial yoga that you have the benefit of engaging in supported inversions like a handstand. Most people would find inversions undoable until there’s the presence of a hammock which makes it easy to master. The hammock makes it almost natural to get upside down without exerting any pressure on the spine.
3. You Get Better With Other Types of Yoga
After perfecting aerial yoga moves, it becomes easy to develop overall yoga practices. By using aerial silk, you’ll be in a position to enhance your stretching skills further than you’d do on a mat. When you finally refine your skills with aerial yoga, you’ll be more flexible also at traditional yoga.
4. Exposure to a Variety of Styles
Aerial fitness workouts cover diverse styles, which include special materials like trapeze, fabric and hoops for suspending users in the air. This allows for a 360° movement and can support up to 1000 pounds. People of all ages, body sizes and body shapes can safely enroll for aerial fitness classes. Younger trainees may engage in trapeze classes while the adults attend the advanced aerial yoga classes.
Who Needs Aerial Yoga?
People Who Experience Back Pain
Though most people can do with the benefits of practicing aerial yoga, people with back pain have a lot to gain. From the support of a hammock, only a little pressure is exerted on the joints. With aerial yoga not straining the spine, it becomes an excellent choice for those who suffer from backaches and desire a complete body work out.
Those With Breathing Difficulties
With breathing being an essential part of yoga, practicing aerial yoga will make you breathe as deeply as possible without restrictions. You’ll get to do this while in the air feeling totally relaxed. By comfortably maintaining every pose, you’ll eventually be in a position to expand the capacity of your lungs.
Those Who Desire Enhanced Flexibility
When you want to improve on your motion range, it’s necessary to continuously work on your flexibility. While taking aerial yoga classes, you’ll be taught how to stretch your tendons and muscles. Floating on air enables you to have greater moving space and be able to achieve more than you could have attained on the floor.
Stressed Out People
Whenever you are going through inevitable tough times, aerial yoga will provide relief. It’s also a great time for meditation and of focusing on the things that bring you joy. You will experience added energy, more balance, and a greater focus when hanging upside down. This is because blood flow to the brain will result in more oxygen for better brain functioning.
People Who Want to Lose Weight
Aerial yoga helps in burning calories because of the power it takes to balance. When suspended in the air you need to be stable when changing positions unlike being on a yoga mat. It’s estimated that an hour of aerial workout can melt away over 300 calories.
Related: Top Yoga Tips for Beginners
Who Should Not Engage in Aerial Yoga?
It is important to forgo aerial yoga if you suffer from a heart condition, high or low blood pressure, a severe case of arthritis or glaucoma. Also, those with a predisposition of getting dizzy may not be comfortable dangling upside down. It’s the same for people who have no balance as they’ll probably feel unstable or may develop a fear of falling. Additionally, if you are recovering from a surgery, or are pregnant, aerial yoga may not be good for you.
Different Types of Aerial Yoga Poses
There are several aerial yoga poses with the most common being:
• Chair in Cross Position
Let the hammock support your underarms from your back. You should then lower yourself into a perfect sitting position. With the force of gravity pulling you down and the hammock holding you up, your back will be pleasantly stretched. This pose helps in relieving lower back pain as well as sciatica pain. It also helps with spinal decompression and improves posture.
• Shoulder Stretches in the Wrist Wrap
While standing on the ground hold the hammock behind your head with both hands. Bend forward as much as you can, holding on to the hammock while it supports your wrists. You should be able to feel pressure on your shoulders. This too improves the posture from stretching the shoulders and spine. It helps in the reduction of lower back pain and sciatica pain.
• Layback in a Cross Position
Layback on the hammock and let it support your back. Your feet should be together with your toes touching the ground for extra support. You should then stretch out your arms wide. This posture is necessary for deep heart opening. The pose opens up the shoulders, chest, lungs and abdomen making it recommendable for asthma sufferers. It’s stress relieving, improves posture and stimulates the nervous system.
• Star Inversion
Bend over and gently slide the hammock over your head and on to your waist. Support yourself on the ground with both your hands and slowly put your legs up, in an upside down position. Move your legs wide apart. Slowly let go of the ground while stretching out your arms. The hammock should hold you up exerting pressure on your front upper hip region, as your body attains an inverted star-like pose.
This helps in the relief of stress, insomnia, anxiety and depression. By decompressing the spine, it lets gravity naturally align the spine. It’s also known to regulate your body temperature as well as relieve menstrual discomfort and menopausal symptoms.
• Pike and Pull
Put one of your feet up from the front, and let the hammock support it. You should then hold both sides of the hammock and pull onto one side as if you were shooting an arrow. Pull back as far as you can. You can then repeat this process with the other foot up. This aerial yoga pose is a great way of improving balance and focus.
By stretching the thighs, hips and hamstring, you’ll get relief from lower back pain and sciatica. This pose is also known to improve digestion.
For those who have always wished that one day they’ll feel the joy of flying, aerial yoga may just be the answer to your dreams. You can be assured of an excited feel after every session. With hammocks being set low for beginners, there’s very little risk of getting injured. You can start off slowly then advance at your own pace.