Yoga really is the best workout out there. Even if you find that regular yoga is getting boring for you, there are a lot of types of yoga to check out depending on your needs and preferences. There is a great burgeoning type that I love beginning to trend, called aerial yoga. If you haven’t already checked it out, what are you waiting for!
What is Aerial Yoga?
Aerial yoga, or antigravity yoga, is a hybrid yoga type, which first came to prominence from 2011 onwards. It’s designed to combine aspects of traditional yoga poses, pilates and sometimes dances within an adapted hammock. Utilising a completely different muscle set to regular yoga, even for the same pose, and the effects of gravity in a whole new way, aerial yoga is set to really take off.
How Does Aerial Yoga Work?
In aerial yoga, your body weight is supported by the hammock or the yoga trapeze. The hammock is made of soft fabric, and is suspended from the ceiling, and designed to support your body in doing poses, thus allowing your body to work against gravity, helping you get deeper into stretches.
It also means you can do many supported inversions, which results in health benefits unique to aerial yoga. Being upside down, supported by the hammock, is a little bit like being in traction—it can help lengthen your ligaments, relax your muscles, and decompress your spine.
Is Aerial Yoga Safe?
Aerial yoga is a completely safe exercise so long as all classes are taught by a qualified aerial yoga instructor, who will be able to teach you how to properly show you how to do the poses, so that you can prevent the possibility of injury. If you go to a studio then you can ask for the qualifications of your teacher in advance. You should only be suspended from about 3 to 4 feet above the ground too, so if you do have a fall, injury risk should be minimal.
What is Aerial Yoga Good for? 10 Benefits of Aerial Yoga.
1. Aerial Yoga Boosts Flexibility
Being suspended in the air releases tension in your muscles, and can increase your flexibility the more you practise. It can lengthen the ligaments in your body and helps keep your muscles nice and relaxed. The more you do aerial yoga, the more you will experience increased flexibility in your spine and shoulders too.
2. It Can Relieve Back Pain
If you are suffering from back issues, chances are that you have tried a multitude of techniques to improve things. Sleeping on a hard wooden floor, acupuncture, and many others. What you might not know is that yoga generally, and especially aerial yoga, can do a world of wonders for you. Not only through improved core strength, but also by placing less pressure on your back due to be suspended in the air. It helps to decompress the spine, and keen observants of physiotherapy know that types of aerial exercises like this have often been used in rehabilitation. Because you’re hanging freely, and not under such stress from gravity, your spine is free to lengthen.
3. Helps with Mental Health
Yoga can lift your mood and help relieve stress. Practice of aerial yoga only enhances this feeling further. Your stresses wash away as you are suspended in the air and hanging free. I have never seen someone come out of an aerial yoga class feeling moody or down. Inversion therapy especially is great for this, as hanging upside-down brings blood to your head and helps circulation too.
4. Improves Your Balance
By nature of being suspended upside-down and in the air, you have to rely on balance that you don’t normally have by standing on your own 2 feet. The closest I can describe this to someone who doesn’t know, is like learning to ride a bike for the first time, or a unicycle. It’s a new type of balance that you have to learn. It improves your core strength, which is essential for balance, and helps you really get in unison with gravity.
5. Can Make You Smarter
I know, it seems so unbelievable! But aerial yoga really does improve memory, and concentration. It can fortify the neural connections in your brain, which can help to improve your memory power. This in turn can make you more intelligent as well. With inversion, you will have increased blood flow to the brain which is pivotal in helping to increase brain power and memory ability.
Any exercise will help improve your digestion. Yoga, and even more so, aerial yoga, is the best form of exercise. All the twisting, turning, stretching and upside-down movements helps the flow of your gut. If you suffer from constipation, or indigestion, aerial yoga is perfect for you! It will help to relax your stomach muscles and so it’s also great for irritable bowel syndrome as well.
7. Combats Heart/ Circulation Problems
The workout of moving around suspended in the air, or by turning upside-down and stretching out, helps to boost healthy blood circulation, meaning that aerial yoga can fight heart disease. It detoxifies the body and significantly lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases, as well as Reinhold’s Syndrome too.
8. Great To Meditate in the Hammock
Meditation in today’s frenetic, fast paced, and noisy world, it can be hard to find a good, comfy place to get in zen mode. One of the great benefits of the hammock is how comfy and relaxing it feels. Being suspended in the air also helps to create a sense of weightlessness, which can be a big part of meditation and mindfulness. It’s no surprise then that many of my friends have reported much better results from meditating whilst in the hammock.
9. Full Body Workout
How many people who go to the gym talk about weight training on one day, and then leg day on another? Imagine that you could do one workout that would do it all. Due to the fact that the whole body is engaged, you will find muscles all over the body becoming toned and more defined. Aerial yoga even actually helps to regenerate the joints too.
10. It’s Incredibly Fun
If you’re a kid, there are 2 activities where you can really have fun and be lost in the moment over many others – one is jumping on a bouncy castle, and the other is jumping on a trampoline. Neither give you a sense of weightlessness, but they do fight against gravity for a few moments whilst you rise in the air. Aerial yoga does the same thing. Take it from me, as a person who hates to be taken off my 2 feet.
I love to feel them planted and grounded on the floor as it gives me an overall sense of security. However, when I do partake in exercises such as aerial yoga, it transports me back to being a young child where my dad would pick me up and throw me in the air. All of this makes for a fantastic workout to enjoy!
Can Beginners Do Aerial Yoga? Aerial Yoga Beginners - 10 Things a Beginner Should Know About Aerial Yoga
1. Is Aerial Yoga Hard?
There is definitely a learning curve to aerial yoga. It combines elements of yoga, which also has a difficulty curve, with hanging in the air and performing difficult maneuvers such as front flips. However, it’s something that with a little bit of practice, can be mastered. It took me 4-5 sessions before I felt truly comfortable, and I haven’t looked back since.
I couldn’t complete the flips for the first 3 sessions. Then on the 4th session, I could complete the backflip but not the front, and then finally, on the 5th session, I could do both.
2. Is There a Weight Limit for Aerial Yoga?
Maybe you’re wondering if the yoga hammock or yoga trapeze has a weight limit, or if there is an aerial yoga weight limit in general. There is, and it does depend on the hammock that you use. Most will accommodate for maximum 300 kilograms, or 600 pounds.
The truth is, that to be effective you need to attach to a strong and sturdy base, and you probably want to not be too close to this weight limit. Most yogi’s then, will be ok. But even those of us who have a bit more weight can still partake.
3. Choose the Style of Aerial Yoga That Suits You
For the most part, there are no major subsets of aerial yoga. However, every teacher or class will develop their own personality, and have different poses that they prefer. It’s important to take advantage of a trial class offer if you can, so that you can shop around a bit and find the class and the instructor that’s going to fit you.
4. How Often Should You Do Aerial Yoga?
There’s no wrong answer here. Of course, you need to listen to your body, and consult your physician if you need to. But ultimately, you can do it as much or as little as you like. I attend a class once a week, and occasionally practise at my home, but you may wish to do more or less frequently. As there is no pressure applied to joints, it means that you don’t run such a risk of injury as compared to many other workouts around.
5. How Do I Prepare for Aerial Yoga?
First, you will need to set up your yoga swing. Then, I recommend you test lightly to make sure that it is solid. Once you are happy, set up your yoga mat underneath and your yoga towel. Once you have done this, you can go through your usual yoga preparations. Maybe it is to have a cup of rooibos chai tea, or maybe it is to meditate first to get into your zen mode. Personally, I like to meditate whilst sipping on a chamomile and lavender tea.
6. What to Wear to Aerial Yoga
When it comes to your base outfit, you need to wear clothes that are comfy, and flexible for yoga. Most will wear their typical yoga outfits. You should not wear shoes or socks though, as you will not be on the floor anyway. I advise to wear the least amount of layers, as it can be quite hard work, but, more importantly, you don’t want to have clothing that will drop to your face as you suspend yourself upside down!
7. Hammocks Can Get Snagged and Ripped
Generally, best to practise without wearing jewellery, lotion or perfume. This is because the material of the hammocks can tear or rip if caught in a wristwatch. For the purposes of hygiene, if you have a lot of perfume or lotion on, the smell can seep into the material.
This may not be a huge issue if it is your personal yoga swing, however, if it is the yoga studio’s and they have other classes, it is not very considerate. If you have some items of jewellery that can’t be removed, try to bring tape or something else to cover it up.
8. What to Expect During Your First Aerial Yoga Class
The first thing to expect is that you will not be able to do it all. You may start to have your first experience of inversion. The time will disappear very quickly! You should arrive at least 5 or 10 minutes early as the teacher will need to adjust the height of the swing for you.
It is not considerate to your fellow classmates if you are late, or even bang on time. Expect your whole body to ache in places you didn’t know could ache before, as all your muscles will be given a full workout.
9. When is Aerial Yoga Not For You?
Aerial yoga is great for many people, for a mixture of different things. However, it must be said, that it’s not for everyone. If you are prone to motion sickness, vertigo, dizziness or have very bad epilepsy, I would really recommend giving it a miss. If you are pregnant or have had recent surgery, I also would not recommend aerial yoga. It is a quite unique workout and you should always consult with your physician to be sure.
10. Does Aerial Yoga Make You Fart More?
The long answer is maybe, the short answer is yes. I mentioned earlier the benefits to your digestive system that yoga has. What this can sometimes result in, depending on diet and other factors, is a higher level of incontinence. However, farting is not ALWAYS unhealthy. It is your body expelling unnecessary gases.
As yoga helps the flow of your body, and you stretch and bend yourself, it can press the air and gases out of your body. This may be embarrassing if you are in a class, however, if you are practising by yourself, you don’t need to have the embarrassment and you can be sure that it just means that yoga is doing its job for you and your body.