What We Tried: AntiGravity Aerial Yoga
Where: The Holding Space at Studio Anya, New York
What We Did: The 75-minute class took students through standing and seated poses, inversions, balancing postures and meditations — all using an aerial hammock suspended from the two hooks attached to the ceiling. The aerial technique was originally developed for gymnasts and acrobats, but has since been modified to suit a wider group of participants.
Our fearless leader was Shelly Bomb, a practicing yogi of 25+ years, who led new students through the more technical aspects of the practice with extensive knowledge and a calming presence. The class started and ended with meditations inside the hammock, and then went through modified versions of various yoga poses using the hammock to enhance and deepen the stretches while also adding an acrobatic element.
What It Felt Like:
My first thought about the class was how liberating it felt: There’s an incredible lightness to soaring, stretching and floating through the air suspended by a lavender silk hammock. The inversions really get the blood flowing (extended periods of hanging upside-down will do that), which left me feeling clear-headed and energetic after the class, feeling like I was walking on air. There’s also a sense of playfulness that traditional yoga lacks — it is based in acrobatics, after all — with a freedom of movement that makes the class feel fun and energetic.
What It Helps With: The workout helps build flexibility and agility, as well as core and upper-body strength. It’s also an excellent for blowing off steam and relieving stress.
It’s a relatively low-intensity workout (although some of the moves are challenging), and I found the class to have just as much of a calming effect as ashtanga or Bikram yoga. And it’s also restorative: After my class, I chatted with a 65-year-old former gymnast who had trained in Eastern Europe with Bela Karolyi when she was young, and is now a devoted aerial yogi. She had severe scoliosis that caused her chronic back pain, and said that AntiGravity yoga was one of the only things that made her feel better. The hammocks make it easier to hold inverted poses in correct alignment, with less pressure on the neck and back.
What Fitness Level Is Required: None, but beginner yogis may want to start with an AntiGravity Restorative class, rather than the AntiGravity Flying Fitness that I attended. (Full disclosure: I did rhythmic gymnastics for 10 years and have been practicing yoga for nearly as long, so the deep stretching and acrobatic elements felt very natural to me.)
The Flying Fitness class consisted of about half teacher trainees and advanced students, and at a higher difficulty level, we were able to get into more complex inversions like the “Chandelier Pose” (yes, it’s as beautiful as it sounds).
What’s It Cost: $20 for a 75-minute class, or $180 for a 10-class pass.
Would We Go Back: AntiGravity was not only a fun way to unwind, but it was also exactly what I needed to kick my yoga practice up a notch. After one class, I was totally hooked (I already bought a 10-session pass!). The deep inversions make for an incredible mind-body workout — and savasana in a cocoon is pure bliss.
You probably have heard and seen famous celebrities doing antigravity yoga and aerial yoga. Interested? Now, let’s get to know more about this type of yoga that is great not only for fitness, but also for the health, too.
The Aerial Yoga
According to Besthealthmag.ca, “Antigravity yoga is a new kind of workout invented by aerial performer Christopher Harrison—a former gymnast and Broadway choreographer. It involves performing a series of exercises inspired by yoga, Pilates, calisthenics and aerial acrobatics in a hammock-like apparatus, in order to achieve a total-body workout”.
Additionally, according to Inshapeladiesfitness.com, aerial yoga is a “practice of traditional Hatha yoga with soft fabric hammock, supporting 1000 lbs, suspended a few feet off ground. The hammock is a prop like a strap or block, intended to assist alignment, deepen awareness and provide the immediate benefit of spinal decompression. With the weight of the body partially or fully supported along with the help of gravity, you can explore and create space in your bodies as intended in traditional Yoga practice. Without the compression of the joints and spine you can achieve proper posture and alignment through relaxation rather than effort, therefore finding a more balanced and unencumbered expression of each pose. ”
So this kind of yoga uses a circus hammock as a tool to help students achieve various yoga positions. Traditional Yoga helps us achieve a calm nervous system. According to Aerialyoga.com, “Many Aerial Yoga postures are designed to help the student better understand the purpose of traditional Yoga postures and some are meant to help students achieve advanced traditional Yoga postures which can take years to learn. Through Aerial Yoga the fascia unwinds, the mind quiets, core-strength is built, and participants leave the class feeling whole.”
In simple words, aerial yoga is like doing yoga with a twist!
Five Benefits of Going to Aerial Yoga Classes
There are a number of aerial yoga benefits that you can learn in attending aerial yoga class. Here are some of those:
1. Total Body Workout. Due to the nature of aerial yoga movements, almost all the body parts are forced to move and stretch. Through this, toning and redefining of the muscles, regenerating and strengthening of the joints are happening during the workout. This workout is even used for physical rehabilitation. Decompression of the spine is one of its main features.
2. Inner body reactivation. The sweat that you produce during aerial yoga has a lot of benefits in the internal body’s regulatory functioning. The circulatory, respiratory, and digestive systems are reactivated through blood circulation. Through this, you also boost your mental abilities, regenerating and relaxing your mind, and nourishing your skin. It also strengthens the neural connections related to memory and intelligence.
3. Psychologically beneficial. Just like almost any other workout, aerial yoga helps rebuild your emotional system because it relieves you from stress. It also helps you combat stress whenever you’re in the outside world.
4. Develop new body skills. Because of the new and improved movements involved in the workout, you learn to develop body skills that you may not be able to do in regular yoga.
5. Spiritually uplifting. The spiritual benefits of aerial yoga are undeniable. It increases your creativity which leads you to develop your own artistic skills. You also get to experience more joy and optimism.
Some Key Points to Remember in an Aerial Yoga Class
According to Inshapeladiesfitness.com, these are the important things you need to remember in performing aerial yoga:
• Wear comfortable clothing that will allow range of movement, such as yoga pants and top.
• Try to avoid extremely lose clothing to prevent the extra fabric getting in the way.
• Footwear for the class should be barefoot.
• Remove all jewelry (necklace, bracelets, rings, and, earrings) before class.
• Arrive well hydrated, and eat a light meal prior to class. Having nutrients in your system will give you the energy your body needs to work out safely.
• Observe good personal hygiene and wear deodorant in consideration for the next person using the hammock.
• Trim your finger and toenails.
• Avoid eating or drinking acidic liquids an hour prior to class.
• Do not use hand lotion before class.
Are you interested in enrolling yourself in an aerial yoga class? Even though this workout is beneficial to many, unfortunately, not all can enroll in this class and perform yoga exercises. According to Besthealthmag.ca, aerial yoga is not recommended to the following:
• Pregnant women – The flips and inversions involved in the workout is stressful for the pregnant woman.
• Those who had a recent eye surgery – Aerial yoga can cause further harm and injury to the eyes if the eyes are not yet fully healed.
• Those who suffer from vertigo – Sudden changes in movement can trigger dizziness and vertigo attack. It is best to seek the advice of the doctor first.
It is very important to note that you do not do this kind of workout on your own to avoid injuries. To be guided properly in performing this kind of yoga, enroll in an aerial yoga class wherein aerial yoga equipment is readily available for you.
In most fitness clubs, aerial yoga is open to any age group, body type, or body size. Classes are usually given in a progressive manner, from beginners to intermediate. For more information, you may visit the local fitness clubs available in your place that offers aerial yoga classes.