We sent our kids to Nanny and Grandad’s house for sleepover last weekend. But what to do with ourselves? We decided to give Aerial Yoga a try. Here’s what happened…
What is Aerial Yoga?
Aerial Yoga or “Anti-Gravity Yoga” is a fusion of yoga, dance, pilates, calisthenics and suspension training (like TRX). Key to every class is the hammock—a high-strength fabric, typically weight tested to between 400-2,000 lbs, depending on the hammock. It’s fixed by two points to the ceiling.
What Are The Benefits Of Aerial Yoga?
My biggest reason for booking the class was decompression of the spine, by hanging upside down. I could feel myself getting longer whilst I was hanging, and my head eventually touched the floor (so we had to raise the height of my hammock).
It will strengthen the core, upper and lower body, plus increase flexibility. It improves proprioception—your awareness in positioning and moving your body, whilst suspended from the ceiling. It’s fun too. 🙂
What To Wear
Similar to floor-based yoga, Aerial Yoga is usually performed in bare feet. It’s recommended that you wear long yoga pants / running tights, so that your clothes don’t get caught in the fabric. I wore tights with a pair of shorts on top, to preserve some of my modesty! I was wearing a vest (as were most of the people in the class), but in hindsight, a tight t-shirt covering the armpits would be a lot more comfortable, as some positions have the hammock under the armpits and shoulders, where it rubbed a little. You shouldn’t wear a watch or jewellery, to avoid getting stuck on the hammock.
Our Aerial Yoga Session
We booked a session with Ali Bate, at The Fitness Hangout in Godalming, Surrey. The studio was light and airy, with a wall to wall mirror at the front, and orange hammocks suspended from the ceiling throughout the room. There was a yoga mat below each hammock.
After getting acquainted with the hammock, we were soon sitting inside it, with the hammock wrapped around us and nearly all the light blocked out. We closed our eyes for a minute or two and relaxed.
We later moved onto some inverted poses, supported by the hammock. It felt good on my spine, but it’s not quite as relaxing as it looks, as the hammock digs into your hips a little.
When it was time to strengthen the core, we did an exercise almost the same as TRX plank to pike. Get into the plank position, with your feet elevated in the hammock–if you’ve never done this before, it’s more strenuous than doing it on the ground. Next, keeping your legs straight, bend at the hips and pull your feet towards your head.
There were some great stretches for the upper and lower back, and legs, such as supported splits. What’s more, the whole class “flew” in the air at one point.
We also did some exercises similar to gymnastics exercises on the rings. Going from an inverted hang with the body completely straight…to pike (bending at the hips, with your legs going towards your head…to a short version of “skin the cat”, where you try to touch your feet to the ground. We transitioned into a position I’d never seen before, the “vampire pose”–usually performed with both legs in the hammock, it was beautiful to look at…unfortunately not that comfortable for me, so I preferred it with one leg on the ground.
Who Shouldn’t Do Aerial Yoga?
Aerial Yoga is not for everyone. And like many forms of exercise, there are a long list of conditions which would exclude you from participating. As with any type of exercise class or workouts with a Personal Trainer, they should issue you with a PAR-Q form to check your medical history before you start.
What Did We Think Of Aerial Yoga?
I could see the potential benefits as it was a mixture of a number of disciplines. And for many people, these classes will be enjoyable and different from regular exercise classes.
My primary reason for trying it was still decompression of the spine. So I have to admit, I’ve since purchased a yoga hammock, so I can hang upside down for a minute or two after my Calisthenics workouts.
Unfortunately Mrs Fitness didn’t enjoy herself as much as I did. She has low blood pressure, and the swinging around made her a little nauseous. She bruises easier than anybody I know–so the hammock left her with a couple of bruises on her hips and shoulders. However, sitting still in it to meditate was comfortable for her, so I left her in peace in the garden, to relax.
My kids love the hammock. Sometimes we sit or lay inside it, to get some cozy time. Or they swing themselves.
George D. Choy
Personal Trainer & Calisthenics Instructor
Gymnacity in Oxted, Surrey, United Kingdom