Only For Experienced Yogis?
Yoga now exists in a variety of niches. On one end of the spectrum, you will find classes like chicken nugget yoga. On the other end are more challenging practices like aerial yoga or acro-yoga. Most people prefer a class style that exists somewhere in the middle, such as hatha yoga or vinyasa flow – the kind that requires workout leggings and yoga blocks. These practices at both ends either seem downright absurd or that they are only for the Olympic yogis.
Aerial yoga may appear challenging, but during a class, you might be pleasantly surprised. The class takes place off the ground – where wide nylon hammocks support your body. Throughout the class you will work your way through gentle stretches supported by the hammock, eventually hanging completely upside down. It sounds exceptionally acrobatic, but in reality – it is accessible for anyone.
In many ways, aerial yoga is actually easier than a vinyasa or Hatha class. The support of the hammock means poses which are difficult on the ground, are simplified in the air. You can lift higher and extend further in perfect form, while still getting the same full body workout you would get in a dynamic yoga class.
If you have tension or pain in your joints, aerial yoga will be your new best friend. The hammock offers excellent support, removing stress from the joints and creating a deeper stretch for the muscles surrounding them. Using the hammock to support yourself will also help you build strength and in turn, building a stronger floor-based yoga practice.
Aerial yoga provides excellent relief from back pain. Many of us suffer from back pain, especially in the lower back and around the hips. Hanging in the hammock – particularly upside down – frees up the spine, allowing it the lengthen. When you are upside down, the force of gravity takes over. The weight of the head creates space between each vertebra and removes the pressure from the lower back.
As well as the physical benefits of aerial yoga, it also provides a calming effect on the mind. Through the combination of breath and movement, yoga alleviates stress and anxieties. When you practice in a hammock, you also have the addition of extra space. Humans are creatures of habit and the habits we accumulate play a significant role in how we live our lives. Aerial yoga gives us a way to shake up these habits so that we can evolve on and off our mats (or nylon hammocks).
Giving aerial yoga a try is a great way to tackle the fear of the unknown. When escaping our comfort zones, many mental challenges will arise. On the other side of these challenges lies a room for discovery and growth. If you’re feeling stuck in your yoga practice – or any part of your life – try turning your world upside down in a hammock, and see how you feel afterward. At the very least you’ll have a lot of fun. Who wouldn’t love to feel like a trapeze artist or an acrobat for 60 minutes? Well, this is the closest most of us are going to get. Aerial yoga helps us get out of our comfort zones by bringing effortless acrobatics to those of us whose two feet are usually stuck firmly on the ground.