Aerial Yoga Teacher Training details

Aerial Yoga Teach Training 40 Hour Certification coming this July to Kula Yoga. Space is extremely limited and already filling up so go to the MindBody Connect app to reserve your spot soon!

Here are the details:

The aerial yoga certification offered by Flying Beach Yoga is designed for those students and teachers who wish to deepen their practice and understanding of yoga in the aerial hammock and who wish to share that practice with others. It will prepare those who complete the course with the skills needed to lead a public aerial yoga class.
Training is provided at Kula Yoga in Port Orange and in New Smyrna Beach.

The course will cover the topics of safety, rigging, spotting, assisting, verbal cueing, anatomy and physiology, and inversions. The participants will also leave with a full class they can teach to the public and will be required to in order to receive their certificate.

We will meet at Kula Yoga in Port Orange Fridays 7/14 & 7/28/17 6-9pm

Saturdays and Sundays 7/15,7/16,7/29, and 7/30/17 at Kula NSB 11am-8pm

No previous teaching experience is required, however, at least six months of yoga practice is necessary, and some aerial yoga class experience is preferred. Preference is given to those who are in the process or have completed their RYT 200 with Yoga Alliance.

Must participate in all 6 modules and teach a public aerial yoga class for certificate of completion.

*Must buy a hammock from Flying Beach Yoga at least 2 weeks prior to start of training.

For additional information please contact Michele Guess, RYT at [email protected].

40 hour Aerial Yoga Certification


The aerial yoga certification offered by Flying Beach Yoga is designed for those students and teachers who wish to deepen their practice and understanding of yoga in the aerial hammock and who wish to share that practice with others. It will prepare those who complete the course with the skills needed to lead a public aerial yoga class.

Training is provided at Kula Yoga in the Pavilion at Port Orange. 5537 S. Williamson Blvd., Port Orange, FL

The course will cover the topics of safety, rigging, spotting, assisting, verbal cueing, anatomy and physiology, and inversions. The participants will also leave with a full class they can teach to the public and will be required to in order to receive their certificate.

Students must provide their own hammock approved by Flying Beach Yoga through discounted purchase or rental through Flying Beach Yoga.

No previous teaching experience is required, however, at least six months of yoga practice is necessary, and some aerial yoga class experience is preferred. Preference is given to those who are in the process or have completed their RYT 200 with Yoga Alliance.

For additional information please contact Michele Guess, RYT at [email protected] or (404) 641-7680.

Letter From An Aerial Yoga Student – Diane Black

Just a little background; this is a letter sent to the studio owner at Altamonte Springs Yoga in July, 2016 from Diane Black, who is a regular Aerial Yoga student at the studio regarding her experience with it.

Hello MyLinda,

Hope this email finds you well.

It has been 23 weeks since starting my first aerial class and I am 100% certain, it has become a part of my treatment plan!

I wanted to take this time to share with you the details, so I will apologize first, cause this will probably become a dissertation instead of

An informative email!!….LOL


A little back ground:

I’m 51 years old and my  yoga practice started in the 1990’s with the exposure to the Bhagavad Gita which lead to the study of the Mahabharata and spending the next 3 years reading the sacred texts.  My asana practice didn’t come till afterwards.


I am no stranger to the mind, body and spiritual benefits of yoga, as the past 15 years I have had extensive direct experience with all three. Although my practice has NEVER been about “mastering” the pose, but it would be misleading if I didn’t admit I often desired to achieve the next level of the arm balance, or strive to get deeper into the posture.


In 2002 as a young mother of two sons, age five and seven, I was diagnosed with  breast cancer . This was my first test which brought me back to my original roots of my practice. The readings and mediation provided me with all the insight I needed to recover and accept my new normal. First time I ever had to make modifications in my asana practice and it was oh so humbling!


Although my mediation practice had never wavered,  the stronger I became as time passed, I was able to return to a more physically demanding asana practice. My heart openers not quite as wide, and my back bends not quite as deep, but there was no denying the importance of getting back to my physical practice, and the benefits both on and off the mat!


In 2011, I received my second BC diagnosed and once again relied heavily on what I affectionately refer to as,” period of forced stillness”.  Again it was the “whole “ of my yoga practice that kept me present, got me through and helped me accept the changes to my body and asana.  A true lesson of “I am not my postures”.


Through it all, again and again it was my practice I leaned on and believe it is why I am still here today! I felt I had a moral responsibility to share with others what had served me so well! I believed teaching was my dharma. I was fortunate to receive a scholarship for a yoga teacher training and this I saw as a message to act upon my feelings.


2012 I received my 200 hr and began serving those who were ready to receive. 2013 I started to develop odd  and unexplainable symptoms. Suffering from severe leg and joint pain, muscle aches, and fluid buildup behind the knees and on the hips caused me to have sleepless nights for the next three and a half years. Orthopedic doctors had no explanation, lymphatic massages didn’t help and as time went on , I began to develop other strange symptoms. I became dizzy, foggy, loss of memory, and passing out. Eventually ending up in the hospital and having every cardiology test ran possible.  Still nothing detected.


The summer of 2015 additional issues arose, nausea, low bp, extremely low basal temperature of 96, elevated heart rate, lung infections, difficulty forming words, swallowing, G.I. complications, extreme fatigue and a sensation of electrical current running through my body . By winter of 2015 I could not teach, work, hold myself up, eat , in extreme pain, severe dry eyes, stiff  joints, went from 130 lbs to 123 lbs and spent 18 out of the 24 hours a day sleeping. Finally, receiving a diagnosis of collagen vascular disease, an autoimmune condition known as Sjogren’s Syndrome.  A rather bleak and chronic condition , one in which the Rheumatologist informed me, “there is nothing you can do. You will have to live with it” end of conversation. He clearly doesn’t know whom he is speaking to!


I took it upon myself to research and implement diet changes and in time I saw some slight improvements, but I was still a long way from having a functioning life. Only able to work 6 hours a week and not even the most gentile of asana practice was an option!


Visiting with a friend one day she asked if I had considered the Aerial class. I had but didn’t know much about it and was nervous to ever try it alone. She suggested we go together and it seemed like it would be easy enough for me and not very demanding . We could lay in the silk hammock an relax, let go. Boy did this sound exactly like what I needed! Little did I know , my world was about to be turned upside down……literally!!


Now, as a yoga teacher, you would  think I would read the description of the class before taking! Understand,  I barely had enough energy to get through the  necessities of my day!

The moment I walked into the brightly colored silk hammock forest, I knew this was not going to be what I had envisioned! Nor did I know it was going to be exactly what I needed!

Within the first 10 minutes of class I found the lovely energetic teacher instructing us to hang upside down! With tremendous hesitation I followed her guidance. Immediately panic set in, followed by tears and my friend calling across the room to the teacher to come help me. To say I was embarrassed is an understatement.  She was kind, sweet , lighthearted and reassuring.

None the less, this was not a fit for me!


Finishing the class, I thanked Danita for her patience and it was a lovely class, but not for me. She encourage me to give it a second try, but I had absolutely no intention of doing so! In addition to the fear of inverting, it aggravated my hip pain, definitely not for me!


After returning home exhausted, sharing with my husband, then  going straight to bed and try to get some rest before the cycle of waking periods of pain would start. I was out like a light! I woke up and immediately noticed there was no pain. Checked the time and it was 7:12 a.m. ! This could not be! For the past three and a half years I have woken up every two hours to intense pain requiring me to draw a bath at 4;00 a.m. and relocating to the coach.


Very disoriented by the time on my clock, surely there had been a power outage that changed the display time. I woke my husband to ask what time he had and he too had 7:12 a.m! HOW COULD THIS BE POSSIBLE!!  We were both shocked! Unable to make any sense of it, I proceeded to start my day with my shower. As I was lathering my legs, I noticed the bulge behind both knees were significantly decreased! Okay, stop the train! I’m getting off! THIS IS CRAZY!


Reflecting back on the previous day the only thing that was different was attending that crazy Aerial class! My dietary intake is so limited, there was nothing new I consumed. Could it be……?

The only way to find out was to go back! UUghhhhh…..gulp!! So I mustered up the energy to  fly again and this time my friend was on vacation, which meant I was going it alone …..Oh Ganesha protect me! I made it through and to my surprise the same results occurred! Slept through the night and the fluid on my joints were less!


Well, the only way to really know if I was truly medicinally benefiting from the Aerial yoga was to put it to the test for an extended period of time and document  my daily symptoms.

I gathered the strength and began my experiment. When I first began attending the Aerial classes on February 8 , I had 18 symptoms I was dealing with! As the weeks went by they started to improve or go away all together!


Now My bp and heart rate are regulate at 109/68 and 77.  My body temperature has elevated and maintained at 97.9, the joint pain has dissipated, I sleep through the night, head aches gone, G.I function is normal, the electric current gone, lungs and breathing are clear, significantly increased energy and no naps needed. Muscle and bone pain alleviated, lymphatic fluid buildup is gone! My knees are measuring 1 inch smaller then when I began, the dry eyes are slightly more lubricated. My thoughts and speak are clear, I’ve gained 7 pounds back and am working .


With the extensive direct experience and knowledge I have on the benefits of yoga, I fully understand how significantly the benefits can be, but I can honestly say this has blown me way. I don’t even really have the words to adequately express the impact the Aerial yoga has been on my life! Although, I am limited in my floor practice ,as it will aggravate the fluid back up, the Aerial yoga has not only aided in managing my symptoms , it has given me a means to continue my asana practice. I have had two periods of time when I missed a week without taking  class  and have noticed the fluid begin to build, sleep becomes restless, pain creeps in.  I have no doubt in my mind and heart the lymphatic drainage of the inversions with use of gravity is a HUGE component in my returned health.


I don’t think I ever shared with Danita, Michele or Michelle my health issues, but I cannot thank them enough for being the guides in my practice and am forever grateful for their knowledge, patience and teachings! I love them so!


Turning myself upside down has turned my life right side up again!


So grateful to you for offering the class at your studio and energy you bring to the space!

Peace and Namaste,

Diane Black

ASY-Aerial-Class-300x116 Letter From An Aerial Yoga Student - Diane Black

Learning to Fly with Aerial Yoga

Learning to Fly with Aerial Yoga

Harness your inner Cirque du Soleil aspirations and turn your practice upside down with aerial yoga.

Suspend all disbelief for a moment, and envision a weightless Savasana: Enveloped inside a silk fabric cocoon, fully supported, safe, and held. Your meditation transports you deep into the rainforest, all tucked in for the night by large palm fronds high inside an alcove of a kapok tree. No, you have not transformed into a monkey… but for a brief moment in time perhaps you understand what it’s like to sleep like one. To fly through the air with the greatest of ease is not limited to our primate ancestors alone, however—with aerial yoga, we can defy gravity and deepen our regular practice, one swinging hammock at a time.

But aerial yoga is not a sleepy, nor lazy practice, mind you. The amount of core strength, courage, and not to mention, coordination cultivated in a beginner’s level class may pose a challenge to even the most advanced students. For example: In the first two minutes of class, I could not figure out how to wrap my wrists correctly around the hanging fabric. It was embarrassing, and so I laughed. But throughout the class so did a few others. In fact, a light-hearted approach to aerial yoga might be the only requirement to succeed in this practice. You’ll swing and flail about clumsily, you’ll place the fabric on the wrong parts of your body, and you’ll giggle as you tilt backward with no idea where you’re headed next. But that’s what makes aerial yoga equally fun and challenging.

Our regular yoga practice is often so confined to solitude; the small island of our yoga mats where there is a tendency to take asana too seriously. Aerial yoga takes everything we land-yogis know about mind-body awareness and throws it out the window. And yes, going upside down with little to no control of your body in space is terrifying… but the small adrenaline rush that comes with it makes it all worth while.

Kevin Bigger, an aerial yoga and vinyasa instructor at OM Factory, coordinates workshops and teacher trainings in New York, South Korea and Vietnam. He says that yoga is meant to be experiential, rather than intellectual, and that the aerial practice works to help facilitate that. “It doesn’t matter how many times I tell someone that the hammock can hold over a thousand pounds of weight,” he explains, “I need to prove to them that it will not drop them.” So naturally, Bigger doesn’t ask students to flip upside down at the start of class, but will slowly integrate challenges that may induce fear as the class goes on. “By the time students do the full pose it just feels like the natural culmination of everything that we have already done that day,” he says.

Not surprisingly, many new students to aerial yoga encounter plenty of fear when they begin entrusting their safety in a piece of fabric suspended from two small hooks affixed to the ceiling. But as Bigger explains, fear can be an incredible teacher. He says that good teachers will show students all the ways the fabric can interact with the body, so that students learn to trust the hammock. “As their trust grows, so will their ability to practice with grace and ease,” he says.

An unanticipated challenge of aerial yoga is the discomfort that the fabric can present in certain postures—despite its soft, silky texture. When pressure is put on muscles of the body that aren’t engaged (ouch, hip flexors!), the fabric can feel tight and pinching on the skin. This is simply an adjustment phase however, and there are many modifications a student can take to make themselves more comfortable. (Beginner tip: use a blanket for cushion when you’re performing a suspended Downward Dog overtop of the fabric.)

The paradox of aerial yoga is that it can make classical postures either more easily facilitated, or a lot more challenging. For instance, a student who typically struggles with balance could use the hammock for extra support. Alternatively, a suspended Supta Baddha Konasana proves far more difficult upside down in the hammock versus laying on a mat. “This allows students to be fully inverted without needing to support their body weight with their heads, necks, or shoulders,” Bigger explains. “When the upper body relaxes fully, the hammock provides beautiful traction to the lumbar spine.” The good news for any student is that they can receive all the benefits of an inversion practice, despite any previously held beliefs or limitations in their minds and bodies.

An aerial practice requires students to engage more fully with a pose—and use their core in ways they may not have previously imagined were possible. In some poses, when gravity is removed from the equation, different muscles are used—sometimes with more intensity—than they would otherwise. “We often teach Locust Pose balanced on a thin bar of fabric in the crease of the hip, with no part of the body on the ground,” Bigger says. “The only way to achieve balance is to use the legs and the torso equally.”  He explains that it is far more difficult to achieve the backbend while floating on a piece of fabric, so students have to relearn how to properly engage their muscles in order to stay afloat. Bigger attests that this, in turn, improves the students’ posture in when they take it back to the mat.

Believe it or not, staying grounded is also integral to practicing aerial. Bigger explains that in a Level 1 class, students are gradually introduced to the relationship of their bodyweight to the hammock by keeping some part of the body on the ground at the beginning. “This teaches students to find the requisite stability they need to feel safe as they slowly bring more and more of their practice into the sky,” he says. Then, when the student is ready to put their entire body into the hammock, they can better understand how to ground down by pressing into the fabric the same way they did on the mat earlier in class. Bigger insists that aerial teachers must be properly trained to spot students safely and effectively so they feel supported whenever fear and anxiety arises. “Most yogis don’t learn to do a handstand on the first try,” he says. “It’s totally fine if someone decides they want to skip something that freaks them out—there’s always going to be another day to try again.”

Many students may come to aerial yoga because they’ve struggled on the mat and have even sustained injury to their shoulders, wrists, or spine. The weightlessness of an aerial practice provides extra support, liberating a student from any modifications they may have had to practice on the ground. “Many of my students with chronic back pain, for instance, find relief from my aerial classes that they simply cannot find in a vinyasa class,” Bigger says.

Aerial yoga gives students a profound sense of empowerment, especially to students like me who’ve been practicing for a long time and craving a new challenge. Aerial is equally humbling and rewarding, and will shift your perspective by literally turning you upside-down. “The childlike sense of joy that erupts when adults challenge their perspectives and learn to do the impossible can have a profound impact on their mental fortitude,” Bigger says.

Photo by Karen Fuchs, courtesy of OM Factory

andrea-rice-headshot-new-edit1 Learning to Fly with Aerial YogaAndrea Rice is a Senior Writer for Wanderlust Media. She is also a freelance writer, editor, and yoga teacher. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Yoga Journal, SONIMA, mindbodygreen, AstroStyle, and other online publications. You can find her regular classes at shambhala yoga & dance center in Brooklyn, and connect with her on InstagramTwitter, and on her website

Why You Should Try Aerial Yoga, Even If You’re Not Into Yoga

Trying to be graceful at aerial yoga.

Image: alicia tan/mashable

SINGAPORE Ask me how I usually spend my Saturday afternoons and for sure I’ll tell you that it involves something to do with Netflix and nothing related to working out.

For quite some time, I’ve been toying with the idea of aerial yoga, which is also known as anti-gravity yoga. I kept putting it off for fear that my natural clumsiness would have me face-planting the floor instead of soaring like a bird.

After weeks of procrastination, I finally signed up for my first class. On the day of “flying,” I arrived at the studio early, cracking awkward jokes to ease my nervousness.

Aerial yoga is a combination of acrobatic arts and yoga exercises that you practice with a fabric hammock. Made out of a stretchable silk-cotton material, each hammock supports weight of up to 1,000 kilograms and is held up by carabineers, chains and straps. Why You Should Try Aerial Yoga, Even If You're Not Into Yoga
The fabric hammocks can support weight of up to 1,000 kilograms.

Image: alicia tan/mashable

The instructor first helped us adjust the height of our hammocks and then we were off to very simple stretching exercises. Before long, we were going into full inversions which were surprisingly easy.

What I found most challenging while hanging upside down was staying in position for an extended period. At one point, I fell out of the pose when I lost focus, but was quick to recover with the help of the instructor. Why You Should Try Aerial Yoga, Even If You're Not Into Yoga
Learning to let go and trust the hammock is the hardest part.

Image: alicia tan/mashable

For a fair-weather yoga practitioner, I found it easier to get into difficult poses while doing aerial with the hammock’s support than with regular mat-work yoga. I’m serious when I say I’m really inflexible and can’t manage a forward roll to save my life.

I also have a nagging back injury that has kept me away from full-blown workouts in the past year. From what I’ve heard from aerial yoga converts, the practice has myriad physical benefits such as spinal decompression, pain- and stress-relief and core muscle strengthening. Why You Should Try Aerial Yoga, Even If You're Not Into Yoga
Hanging in there.

Image: Alicia tan/mashable

What I enjoyed most about aerial yoga is the liberating feeling I got when I put my trust in the hammock to fully support me. In fact, I had so much fun that I stopped thinking about what a klutz I was and fully immersed myself in the experience.

By the end of the 60-minute session, I hardly broke a sweat, which meant I was able to leave the studio looking fresh as a daisy without a shower.

That night, I slept like a baby and although I woke up to aching muscles the next day, it was a good kind of ache I was experiencing.

While I might not be the most graceful person, the rush I got from aerial yoga, made me feel like I had the world at my feet. And that feeling my friends, is addictive.

So yeah, ask me again what I’ll be doing this Saturday and the one after. My answer is: aerial yoga.

Why Should I Try Aerial Yoga? – Part 3 of 3

Why Should I Try Aerial Yoga? – Part 3 of 3

Part 3 – Inversions!

In Part 1 of this series, I wrote about how we use the support of the aerial yoga hammock to improve our alignment in the postures or asanas. In Part 2, we learned about building strength, increasing flexibility, and improving balance are also great benefits of aerial yoga. The 3rd and final part of this series is devoted solely to inversions and why we should practice them.

Inversions 101 – Any posture in which the heart is above the head is considered to be an inversion. Yes, this includes downward facing dogs and standing forward folds. Anytime we are in an inverted position, many benefits happen. Here’s a list of a few:

  1. Activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which has a calming effect as it is the opposite of our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response).
  2. Decreases systolic blood pressure when done regularly.
  3. Detoxifies lymphatic system
  4. Increase in VO2max which is the maximum rate of oxygen consumption as measured during incremental exercise
  5. Improves HDL cholesterol levels
  6. Decreases weight, body fat %, and waist circumference
  7. Improves mood
  8. Improves flexibility
  9. Improves back pain
  10. Aids digestion
  11. Improves memory
  12. Improves blood circulation
  13. Improved posture


As you can see, the benefits are many. If you’d like to read in detail about any of these, visit to reference the studies in which this information came from.

In a Flying Beach Yoga aerial class, we use the hammock in many different ways to support us in inversions, one of which is an unnata viparita baddha konasana, or bound angle pose, which is pictured below.

Baddha-ASY-256x300 Why Should I Try Aerial Yoga? – Part 3 of 3

Here in this secure environment, we get decompression of the spine, allowing fresh oxygenated blood to infiltrate the area. When this happens, it sets up an environment for healing to occur. From this posture, we can venture into other postures including backbends and handstands, all with a decompressed spine. These are postures that may not be within the realm of practice for a newer yogi, but can be the most beneficial for both the body and the practitioners’ awareness.

If this sounds like something you would like to try, I would highly recommend finding a highly trained instructor to guide you through this practice. You can ask your local yoga studio for the aerial yoga teacher’s credentials. There are many home kits for aerial yoga available, which is okay once you have been to some aerial classes and are knowledgeable and comfortable with the hammock. You can subscribe to the Flying Beach Yoga channel on YouTube - – for more information on aerial yoga in general as well as hammock installation and maintenance. Or you can visit for more answers to your aerial yoga questions. Namaste.


Part 1 — Part 2 — Part 3


Written by Michele DiPetrillo, PharmD, RYT, Owner and Instructor for Flying Beach Yoga




Why Should I Try Aerial Yoga? – Part 2 of 3

Why Should I Try Aerial Yoga? – Part 2 of 3

Part 2 – Strength Building, Flexibility, and Balance

In Part 1 of this series, I wrote about how we use the support of the aerial yoga hammock to improve our alignment in the postures or asanas. In this installment, I’ll share how that same support can also help us with strength building, flexibility, and balance.

Let’s refer back to the example of a forward facing lunge, also referred to as Crescent Lunge or Anjaneyasana. Unlike being in this posture on the floor, the fabric again is under our thigh just behind the knee on the front leg. When the front foot is unable to touch the ground a few things start to happen.

  1. Strength building – Crescent lunge in the hammock engages the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings, along with the abductors and adductors to hold this posture since we do not have the aid of the earth to help ground us. The core (psoas) is also being activated to keep from swinging. In yogic terms, the mula bhanda (contraction of the pelvic floor muscles) and uddiyana bhanda (contraction of the abdomen into the rib cage) are activated. Finally, we can get the 3rd body lock, the jalandhara bhanda (tucking the chin close to the chest) so we activation of all these muscles throughout the body just to hold this one lunge posture. Once all these bhandas are engaged, you have the option to let go of the fabric with your hands so the only body part touching the floor is the ball of your back foot.
  2. Flexibility – Remember the front leg is being held up under the thigh behind the knee. We start to use gravity to our advantage by letting the earth pull our pelvis down, stretching our glutes, hamstrings, quads, and psoas.
  3. Balance – We’re still in our Crescent lunge, balancing our body’s ability to lengthen and strengthen while we remain upright and true in our posture. Enter the breath. The easiest way to balance the mind is to balance the breath. Breath work, or pranayama is practiced from the 1st moments of class, and really come into play when postures are held and become difficult. The more we practice balance in aerial yoga, the better we become at practicing that balance, by using our breath, in our everyday lives. And right there, is where some of the juiciness of yoga lies.


So we just went through one posture, and not even in full detail (believe it or not)! For purposes of demonstrating differences between Anjaneyasana on the mat and in the hammock, the discussion was limited to mainly the lower half of the body. There is much more to both this one posture, and to a Flying Beach Yoga aerial class. We haven’t even touched on inversions yet which is one of the best parts of aerial yoga! The 3rd and final part of this series will be devoted solely to inversions and why we should practice them. For more information, visit for more great articles on aerial yoga.


Part 1 — Part 2 — Part 3

Written by Michele DiPetrillo, PharmD, RYT, Owner and Instructor for Flying Beach Yoga



Why Should I Try Aerial Yoga?– Part 1 of 3

Why Should I Try Aerial Yoga?– Part 1 of 3

Part 1 – Practice yoga with support to help with our alignment

The yoga hammock serves many purposes, one of which is support. Even though an aerial class may seem very intimidating to a beginner yogi, it may actually be the perfect place to start your yoga practice. In any Flying Beach Yoga brand of aerial class, we use the hammock to support our postures or asanas. We have these beautiful fabrics rigged from the ceiling supports that can easily support all of our body weight, so why not use it to help hold us up off the ground while we practice our poses.

For example, a forward facing lunge, also referred to as Crescent Lunge or Anjaneyasana is much different when practiced using the hammock. With the fabric supporting you under the thigh of the front leg, (and with the option to hang on with your hands to the fabric as well), we can work on the alignment and engagement of our feet, legs, hips, torso, arms, and gaze (or dhristi), all while this fabric is supporting half of our body weight. All of this information is very transferrable to a floor or mat yoga practice.

As the Flying Beach Yoga aerial class progresses, we transition from being partially supported by the hammock, to being fully supported and elevated by the hammock. So as we have worked on our alignment on the floor, we revisit some of those postures or asanas while elevated, which gives us an opportunity to practice correct alignment while having full core (and beyond) muscle engagement. We will dive further into the benefits of strength training, flexibility, and balance in Part 2 of 3 of this series “Why Aerial Yoga May Be Worth A Try”. For more information, visit for more great articles on aerial yoga.


Part 1 — Part 2Part 3


Written by Michele DiPetrillo, PharmD, RYT, Owner and Instructor for Flying Beach Yoga

Learn to Fly with Aerial Yoga


YOGA 101




Aerial yoga combines 
acrobatic arts and anti-gravity asana, but
 it’s also an accessible 
practice that can help you find more length 
in your spine and safe 
in your poses.

Flying yoga—forms in which you’re suspended off the ground Cirque du Soleil–style—may have seemed faddish at first, but it’s still gaining momentum. That’s in part because of its surprising physical benefits, including spinal decompression, pain relief, and ease in inversions and other challenging poses, and also because it’s a potent teaching tool for finding better 
alignment in most any asana.

Aerial-yoga practices started more than a decade ago, as teachers began combining traditional yoga with aerial acrobatics in the occasional class. Today, there are several distinct schools, and classes appear regularly on studio schedules and 
at yoga festivals around the world. The aerial-yoga family now includes in-gym or studio practices that go by the names of Air Yoga, AntiGravity Aerial Yoga, and Unnata Aerial Yoga, as well as portable systems from companies OmGym and Gorilla Gym that are popular at yoga festivals and conferences, and that are sold for personal use at home.

See also Prep Poses for Inversions: Yoga Practice Tips + Video to Defy Gravity

Though these brands and styles may vary, they all share the use of a suspension system with therapeutic value: An aerial yoga “silk,” or hammock—suspended from the ceiling or a metal frame—that can support your weight, ease pressure, create space in your joints, decrease compression in your spine, and help you find more mobility. Hanging upside down may seem risky, but you can invert in the hammock without putting pressure on your head or spine as you would in classic inversions, which can lead to back and neck pain and injury over time, explains Joe Miller, a New York City–based yoga teacher who leads anatomy and physiology trainings around the country.

The hammock can also be used to strengthen muscles and find correct alignment in most poses, not just tricky inversions. “Research on suspension training indicates that you have to use your core muscles more when you’re suspended than when you’re on the ground to keep yourself stable,” says Miller. And then there’s the arm strength you gain by hoisting yourself into and around the silk. “Because students have to pull down on the hammock to lift themselves up, they build a kind of core and upper-arm strength that they don’t build in traditional yoga, where most arm movements are about pushing, not pulling,” says Michelle Dortignac, founder of Unnata Aerial Yoga, a practice that emerged in 2006 when she combined her yoga teacher training with an interest in aerial acrobatics.

Aerial silks can also provide natural alignment adjustments. For example, if you were to do a suspended variation of Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) or Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), with the hammock at your hip crease, the placement of the sling helps glide the heads of the thighbones back—which is how they should move when you fold forward at the hips, but is hard for some people to achieve on the floor, says Miller. For these practitioners, “the sling could help relieve pinching at the front of the hip joints in 
forward bends,” he adds.

See also Two Fit Moms’ Inversion Preps for Beginners

Using the silks is especially useful to beginners, says Dortignac, who has trained more than 200 Unnata teachers in the last nine years. “When a new student drapes over the hammock, in Down Dog, for example, gravity does the work for them,” she says. “The hammock helps with lengthening and creating internal space. Once we give students that feeling in the hammock, they’ll have the memory of what that was like, and take it with them to their floor practice.”

Or maybe you’re struggling in Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (One-Legged King Pigeon Pose). In an inverted King Pigeon in the hammock, you can explore important actions of the pose, such as lengthening the spine and the hip flexors of the extended leg, while avoiding pressure on the front knee, which can make the regular pose problematic for some people, says Miller. The sling also helps with the backbend in this pose, while decompressing the spine. “In the normal version of the pose, you have to work against gravity to lengthen the spine,” adds Miller.

For all of its therapeutic and 
alignment value, an aerial practice 
is also fun. “The word ‘antigravity’ can also mean ‘against graveness,’” says AntiGravity Aerial Yoga creator Christopher Harrison. “So we practice ananda (or extreme happiness or bliss) while inverted, using laughing breaths, or forcefully exhaling with a laugh.” People are also naturally curious about what it might feel like to fly or be suspended, adds Dortignac. “Aerial yoga is a chance to dream and to play, to try something different and put yourself 
in a position you never thought you could be in,” she says.

See also The 30-Minute Yoga Sequence to Help You Recharge

Follow Dortignac’s seven-step sequence for getting into King Pigeon in an aerial silk to learn a pain-free way to liberate your spine and hips. 
No aerial setup at home yet? Stick with 
her suggestions for poses on the floor 
that mimic the work in the silk.


Karen Macklin is a writer and yoga teacher based in San Francisco.