If you like yoga, you might just love Aerial Yoga! The new craze, also known as AntiGravity Yoga, has swept the globe, with celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Gisele Bündchen and Kourtney Kardashian advocating it. The practice combines traditional yoga with aerial arts for a total body workout. Moving through conventional poses, it utilizes circus fabric hammocks to support the body, while suspended in the air. Interested?
Classes take students through standing yoga poses, inversions, seated postures, and meditations – all using an aerial hammock, suspended from the ceiling. While aerial arts were first developed for gymnasts and acrobats, they were popularized by a touring group, Cirque Du Soleil. Since then, the interest in aerial fitness regimes has spiked and today, they have been modified to suit a wider group of participants – including yoga enthusiasts.
• Greater Flexibility. Aerial Yoga is an excellent way to improve flexibility and agility. While suspended, you have more freedom of movement and, with a little help from gravity, you can push your body into new positions and deeper stretches than traditional yoga allows.
• Stronger Muscles. Because gravity is pulling against your body, your muscles are working harder than usual. That’s why it’s great for your core muscles, which are working double time to keep you balanced.
• Total Body Workout. Aerial Yoga engages pretty much all of your body – forcing body parts to move, work and stretch in unison. Not only are you exercising your muscles, but strengthening joints and lengthening ligaments too!
• Stress-Relief. Classes are low-intensity and take their cue from traditional yoga, so expect a whole lot of Zen. Like regular yoga, the aerial kind is a perfect source of stress relief and focus.
• Spinal Decompression. Aerial Yoga is great for realigning your body, as your neck, joints and spine are able to elongate without any added stresses. Therefore, when inversions, such as headstands – which usually compress the spinal column – are done hanging from the hammock, the spine is not squashed or compressed. In the long run, this restores the body to its natural state of alignment.
Most people can get involved with Aerial Yoga, and many studios offer different classes to cater to all fitness levels. However, there are some cases where you should consider an alternative form of exercise or consult your doctor before trying it out. These include:
• Eye diseases or eye surgery
• Cardiovascular diseases
• Bone disorders
• High or low blood pressure
• Prosthetic hips
• Any condition that blocks nasal passages e.g. cold, flu
Like all fitness classes, Aerial Yoga should be taught by a certified instructor. We recommend you check with your yoga facility about your instructor's qualifications before taking a class. However, as long as you’re taught and trained by a professional, it poses few safety issues. Although the risk of injuring yourself from falling is minimal, the complications linked with hanging upside down for long periods of time should be considered. Of course, no well-trained yoga instructor will keep a class upside down for longer than is healthy.
• Wear fitted, stretchy and comfortable clothing to aid movement.
• Remove jewelry, watches, and piercings to avoid catching or snagging on the hammock.
• Go barefoot.
• Avoid hand lotion, as it may make maintaining your grip difficult.
• Drink lots of water before class.
• Don’t attend class on an empty stomach – eat a light meal about one hour before.
• Avoid soft drinks and acidic liquids before class.
Note: Remember to bring water, a towel and a yoga mat. Have fun!
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