Aerial yoga: what is it?

Verified on 01/23/2023 by PasseportSanté

Aerial yoga: what is it?

Practicing yoga is considered one of the best ways to stay in shape and release stress. Like traditional yoga, aerial yoga, also known as anti-gravity yoga, is great for the body and mind. Its particularity: it is practiced suspended in a silk hammock. It is a playful and artistic discipline that combines yoga and acrobatics. In addition to being fun and providing many physical and mental benefits, aerial yoga is a very accessible practice with therapeutic virtues.

Why practice aerial yoga?

Aerial yoga combines traditional asanas (the physical postures of yoga) with aerial arts. In an aerial yoga class, you perform the same postures as on a yoga mat, but suspended from the ceiling in a silk hammock. This accessory is intended to support you during the various sequences of postures. Aerial yoga helps you improve your flexibility and build strength. Indeed, the fact of being suspended makes it easier to reach the postures and to open the body gently and consciously. The support provided by the fabric allows students to access new movements and do more difficult poses without adding pressure to the wrists, knees, shoulders, spine or head.

The origins of aerial yoga

The practice of prop yoga is widely credited to BKS Iyengar, the founder of Iyengar yoga, a yoga practice based on body alignment work. In addition to using blocks, straps, and blankets, Iyengar suspended his students from the ceiling in yoga swings. The original swings weren’t like the silk hammocks we find today. They were often made of ropes and padded with yoga mats or blankets. Anti-gravity yoga, as it was originally called, started to gain traction in the late 1990s. Yoga hammock and aerial yoga began to appear in the 2000s in the United States. Today, this practice has been democratized. Aerial yoga studios as well as teachers trained in this discipline can now be found all over the world.

The benefits of aerial yoga

Aerial yoga offers several physical and psychological benefits.

Improve strength and flexibility

Aerial yoga will help you stretch safely and gain range of motion. Being suspended in the air gives you more room to move. Thus, you will be able to perform yoga postures that you usually cannot do on the ground. Aerial yoga works on flexibility, stability and balance. It will also help you build upper body strength, as the hammock grip calls for engagement in the arms, shoulders, and abs.

Decompress the joints

Although anyone can benefit from aerial yoga classes, they are particularly suitable for people with back pain. With the help of the hammock, aerial yoga helps decompress the joints, which can sag over time due to gravity and age. Aerial yoga puts little pressure on the joints and does not tire the spine. It therefore provides a full body workout without any discomfort. For people who suffer from chronic back pain or tension in the shoulders and neck, aerial yoga can help improve joint mobility.

Controlled breathing is an important aspect of yoga. Aerial yoga allows you to breathe deeply without restriction. Thanks to the support of the hammock, you can fully relax and comfortably maintain each posture while breathing. Over time, you will even be able to improve your lung capacity.

If you are particularly tense and stressed, aerial yoga can benefit you. With the hammock stand, you can more easily let go mentally and physically. Just like traditional yoga, aerial yoga is a moving meditation. Its practice clears the mind. Thanks to aerial yoga, you can also explore inversions in complete serenity. Indeed, in yoga, inversions (postures where the head is below the heart) can be difficult to achieve. With the hammock, it is easier to assume a posture upside down without putting pressure on the head, neck or spine. When you’re in an inversion, blood rushes to your brain to supply it with the oxygen it needs. The practice of inversions allows you to have more energy as well as better concentration.

Reduce the risk of heart disease

Aerial yoga is a moderate intensity physical practice. It helps to burn calories by requiring a constant physical commitment both in maintaining postures and in transitions. During a 50-minute aerial yoga session, you can expend over 300 calories. With regular practice, the risk of cardiovascular disease is significantly reduced.

What to expect during a first aerial yoga class?

It is not necessary to have previous knowledge of yoga to practice aerial yoga. If you already have yoga experience, you will still need to start with a beginner level aerial yoga class. This will allow you to familiarize yourself with the movements and the fabric before attempting more complex sequences. Note that it’s possible to get a little dizzy at first if you’re not used to hanging upside down. Be sure to always let your teacher know if you have any particular health concerns. If you have acute or chronic medical pathologies, it is recommended to start with a private lesson with teachers trained in therapeutic aerial yoga.

Beyond its fun aspect, aerial yoga is much more than an acrobatic discipline. It is a therapeutic and restorative practice, accessible to the greatest number. Aerial yoga is a great option for both beginners and experienced yoga practitioners. Get started!

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Aerial yoga: what is it?

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