In an aerial yoga class, you will perform poses you usually do on a yoga mat, except you use a silk hammock that’s suspended from the ceiling as a prop to support you through the various moves, the hammock helps you improve your elasticity, build your muscle, and perform harder poses in an easier way.
Christopher Harrison founded this practice in 1991 in New York City (1) (2).
Aerial Yoga vs Yoga
Both of the practices come with their own benefits, and although Aerial Yoga is complementary to conventional yoga, Aerial Yoga helps you get deeper into the postures. By making use of the silk hammock you will be able to reach certain points that are usually harder to get to when practicing traditional yoga. And although it is always assumed that due to the fact that you have suspended this practice is harder, in a way it can really improve your elasticity and make some moves easier than in conventional yoga (2).
About the Hammock
Think of the hammock as a swing that supports your hips for bends and backbends.
It is not your regular hammock; it is a special kind that can hold up to 300kg. It includes support chains, a webbing strap, a silk hammock, and carabiners. The chains should be hung from the ceiling less than a meter from the floor, and the hammock should be adjusted to the user’s height (3)(4)
What are the health benefits of Aerial Yoga?
There are no scientific studies on the practice of Aerial Yoga yet, everything that is known is based on experiences shared by practitioners. According to those shared experiences, the body benefits by improving your flexibility, strengthening the joints and muscles, and decompressing the spine when hanging from the hammock. As same as Yoga, Aerial yoga helps on an emotional and psychological level as well (5) (6).
Described below, you will find more of the benefits that you can get from practicing Aerial Yoga:
You will improve in all the styles of yoga
Aerial Yoga deepens your poses because you have the support of the hammock, it lets you go further when stretching and you can reach spots that you normally wouldn’t access when doing it on a mat. It lets you go further and it increases your strength and flexibility allowing you to improve in any other style of yoga.
You will get those inversions right
As we all know inversions can be difficult for some more than others, so when doing Aerial Yoga handstands, and headstands become easier thanks to the support of the silk, it can be done with no pressure or pain on the neck, head, or spine, and they are generally more doable. It’s not a surprise that a lot of practitioners of traditional yoga prefer the Aerial version of Yoga due to these perks and benefits.
You will strengthen your upper body and core
You can also experience the improved upper body and core strength by holding your arms, shoulders, and abs onto the silk hammock for support. For those suffering from chronic back pain or discomfort in their shoulders and neck, Aerial Yoga may help improve joint mobility by opening up tight areas. The inversions you create with the hammock will also increase the flow of blood to the back, as you open your chest and place your core above your head.
7 ways you will get to the next level with Aerial Yoga
Aerial Yoga classes really began to gain popularity in the form of yoga a few years ago (they have since branched out to include hybrids, including aerial bars) and started to draw beginners and committed yogis alike. The gist: Hop into a sling-like hammock, which is suspended from the ceiling and supports your entire body weight. You can manipulate the fabric in such a way that you keep postures, and perform tricks(7).
Here are the 7 ways that Aerial Yoga will get you to the next level:
- It has no impact
It doesn’t matter if you suffer from knee problems or not, doing some exercises with zero impact is great for your body, Aerial Yoga is just that for the joints.
- Traditional yoga poses become easier
Have you been practicing your headstand or forearm stand in yoga? Forget kicking up against a wall and consider Aerial Yoga for this; the silk wraps around your body help you in certain uncomfortable poses like inversions, giving you the experience of how a pose should feel. In other words, taking a few aerial lessons can also improve your game in your daily yoga classes.
- It is an excellent ab workout
The advantage of getting your routine off the ground is that you’re losing your stabilization point; you’re beginning to engage your core instantly without even noticing. It’s one of the most successful ab exercises.
- No skills needed
Let the subjects of the ACE study serve as examples: 16 randomly selected women, ages 18 to 45, have shown that they can go to aerial workouts pretty cold and still get the hang of things.
- It counts as cardio
ACE researchers assumed that there would be a full-body strengthening. Study participants increased their muscle mass and decreased their fat mass all over the body. But the scientists were surprised how cardio-intensive this type of yoga turned out to be. At the beginning of the research, they did not expect that the physiological response to Aerial Yoga would be similar to those of other, more conventional types of aerobic exercises, such as cycling and swimming.
- You will leave feeling calmed
A study shows that mind-body exercise can alleviate stress, and Aerial Yoga is no exception. A lot of classes end with you lying in Savasana, cocooned in a hammock as you swing slowly from side to side.
- You’ll start doing the tricks
It is a lot of fun to play acrobat for an hour. All of a sudden, you’re performing gymnastic tricks that you would not usually attempt without the suspension of silk support. It is so entertaining and you will enjoy it so much that you will keep on practicing it.
Overall Aerial Yoga will be fun, it will help you improve your flexibility, you will strengthen your core muscles, and improve on your traditional yoga practices while safely reaching points you normally wouldn’t on a mat.