Being suspended and swinging sounds extremely fun, but did you know you could also get in shape while doing this?
Aerial yoga will help you do just this! The benefits of aerial yoga are plenty, and incorporating it into your life will improve your overall health.
Has yoga been on your mind, but also the need to try something different? If yes, aerial yoga might just be what you’re looking for.
This fusion of different forms of exercise is excellent for your back, shoulders, and overall balance.
Before we get into the details of aerial yoga, let’s take a look at when, where, and how yoga began.
Yoga, an art form
Yoga is a form of art that is prevalent in the Indian subcontinent. It is believed to have been developed by the Indus Sarasvati civilization in Northern India over 5000 years ago and was first mentioned in the sacred text, the Rig Veda. The chief aim in practicing yoga was to unite the human spirit with the divine spirit.
Yoga has evolved over time and is now practiced worldwide and is not restricted to one form only.
However, the basics that revolve around controlled breathing, postures, asanas, chants, and meditation remain the same. A few of the benefits of daily yoga are,
- Reduced stress
- Improved immunity,
- Improved flexibility, and
- Improved lung function.
Practicing yoga can keep you grounded and in touch with your inner conscience.
It brings a sense of peace and calm.
As discussed, yoga is now practiced in various styles and forms. These forms could’ve been introduced to suit the practitioner’s needs or bring new life into this traditional art form.
A few of the forms that are practiced are
Regardless of the type of yoga performed, the main takeaway is to achieve mental balance.
What is Aerial Yoga?
Yoga is ideally performed on a mat placed on the floor. Almost every form of yoga follows this practice; however, aerial yoga stands out in this department since it is practiced on a hammock. This form of yoga is a hybrid that was developed in the year 2006 by Michelle Dortignac. It is a combination of yoga poses, pilates, and dance and is practiced with the help of a hammock.
Aerial yoga is also known as anti-gravity yoga. Having a suspended prop to support your body through the different movements helps limit the pressure exerted on your shoulders, spine, and head. The silk hammock can help improve your flexibility and build strength.
Aerial Yoga Benefits
Reduces strain on the back
Various yoga poses that are ideally practiced on the mat require extra movement and support from the spinal cord and other joints. This can strain the back and cause extreme pain in people who might be experiencing back issues.
When your body is not experiencing any sort of pain, your workouts become a lot smoother and more efficient. The hammock that is used while performing aerial yoga can help with a painless workout session by supporting the back and reducing the pressure applied to your joints. This way, aerial yoga can help assist you and prove to be a better option.
Aerial yoga provides a lot more surface area to work with than when you’re practicing yoga on the floor. This increased area can help you focus on your movement and rhythm and can help you consistently work on your flexibility. You will find it easier to stretch your muscles and tendons.
Help lose weight
Working out your poses on a silk hammock requires a stable core. You will be expected to control the silks while performing your asanas and poses simultaneously. The act of bringing balance to your body while suspended can help you burn more calories than a regular yoga session. This way, you might also notice that losing weight has become more consistent.
Helps focus on your breathing
Yoga, in general, is an art form that emphasizes the importance of breathing right while practicing different asanas. When you practice yoga while suspended in the air, your body attains a state of relaxation that it may not while you practice on the floor. Once your body is relaxed, it automatically enables you to focus on your breathing and might help improve your breathing patterns and lung capacity.
Can relieve stress
Aerial yoga can help put your mind at ease. It can calm your nerves and help you get back in touch with your body. When you start focusing on your body and what it needs, you start releasing all of the negative energy that is stored in your body and, in turn, help find relief to your stress.
The increased blood flow to the head resulting from being suspended can provide your brain with oxygen that it might require to help improve brain functions. This way, it can also help control the release of the cortisol hormones and reduce stress.
Improves upper body and core strength
One of the significant benefits of using a hammock while practicing yoga is improved upper body strength. Apart from focusing on your asanas and poses, you also try to hold onto the silk hammock and find balance. This can help strengthen your core and upper body without causing any harm to your joints.
Aerial Yoga Poses for Beginners
Vrksasana, also known as the tree pose, is one of the few standing poses. It focuses mainly on your balance and breathing. It is ideal for people with tight hips and individuals who find it hard to rotate their hips externally.
In the aerial version, your body is supported by the silk sling, making it a restorative variation of this asana.
Matsya, in Sanskrit, means fish. Naturally, matsyasana translates to “fish pose.” This asana is a back-bending asana that is commonly considered a counter asana to Sarvangasana, a shoulder stand. The matsyasana helps open up the chest and aids in spinal mobility.
Supta Konasana translates to sleeping or reclining at an angle. It is an advanced version of the halasana. It focuses on stretching your vertebral column, leg, thigh, arm, and calf.
In this asana, you will be hanging upside down. It will improve circulation to your head and can be beneficial with regard to the amount of oxygen your brain receives.
Ardha Kapotasana is also known as the half pigeon pose. This asana requires a certain amount of flexibility in the hips and the back. This asana is called the half pigeon pose because the stretching of the chest upwards resembles a pigeon puffing up.
In this pose, your bent leg is on the ground, and your leg that is stretched out is in the sling. This pose can help you relax and open up the hip flexors.
Can you Practice Aerial Yoga at Home?
Yes, you can practice aerial yoga at home. However, you would have to install the silk hammock and would require plenty of space and a strong ceiling to anchor it. Once installed, you can practice by yourself or have a mentor who can assist you.
Regardless of where you’re practicing aerial yoga, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Trust the hammock/sling
The first step in perfecting or even just starting out with aerial yoga is to trust the prop. The sling is meant for this form of yoga and, if installed correctly, should pose no problems whatsoever.
Don’t eat a heavy meal beforehand
It is advised to avoid eating a heavy meal before practicing yoga; the same stands true for aerial yoga as well. It is also important to keep in mind that you will be hanging upside down and might feel nauseous if you’ve had a big meal beforehand. However, before starting class, consider having a small snack, maybe a banana or a protein bar, since you cannot work out with low blood sugar.
Wear the right gear
Avoid loose-fitting clothes and try to cover up as much skin as possible, especially if you have sensitive skin. You could experience chafing due to the silk sling, and to avoid that, a full-sleeved top and leggings are preferred. You could, however, practice with a tank top as well if you are comfortable that way.
Do not have rings, necklaces, or any form of jewelry on while practicing aerial yoga. It could get tangled with the sling or might cause discomfort
Communicate when necessary
While practicing something like aerial yoga, it is crucial to communicate with your instructor and speak up if you find an asana difficult. Your instructor can guide you and modify it to suit your needs and abilities.
The most important tip would be to relax and enjoy your session. After all, aerial yoga is supposed to bring peace to your mind, body, and soul, and that will happen once you let loose and give your body the movement it needs.
Is Aerial Yoga Dangerous?
Aerial yoga can potentially be dangerous if not performed under guidance. Since you will be working with suspension and height, it is important to train under professional assistance. If done wrong, you could risk harming yourself. You could also feel nauseous and dizzy while hanging upside down.
Here is a list of physical limitations that might require you to consult a doctor before performing aerial yoga.
- Recent surgery
- Joint laxity
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Disc herniation
- Diagnosed Neurological conditions
- Muscle spasms
- Joint replacement
- Head injury
- Weak bones
- Cardiovascular conditions
Q: Is aerial yoga better than yoga?
A; Aerial yoga is a form of yoga and is not necessarily better than yoga. Both traditional yoga and aerial yoga come with benefits of their own. However, what does stand out is that aerial yoga, if performed under the right conditions and guidance, can reduce strain on your back, shoulders, and neck.
Q: Is there a weight limit for aerial yoga?
A; No. There are no restrictions concerning weight while practicing aerial yoga.
Q: Is aerial yoga good for posture?
A; Yes, aerial yoga can be good for your posture. Make sure to discuss your goals with your instructor so they can assist you and ensure you meet them, in this context, better posture.
Q: Is aerial yoga difficult?
A; No, aerial yoga is not necessarily difficult. There are always beginner poses you can perform before you gradually advance. However, this will take time; and with the proper guidance, it will be possible to do even the most advanced poses with ease.
Aerial yoga is a relatively new form of yoga that hasn’t been around for long but has definitely been the talk of the town over the past few years. Incorporating yoga poses, dance, and pilates was the idea behind starting aerial yoga.
A few of the benefits it offers are,
- Improved circulation
- Improved flexibility
- Reduced back and neck pain
- Stress relief
- Well regulated breathing
- Improved core strength
However, with these benefits also comes the risk of hurting yourself. This can, however, be avoided if you are guided through your session by a professional instructor.