With Aerial Yoga, The Sky’s The Limit

Article posted in: Fitness
aerial yoga

If you like traditional yoga, there’s a good chance that you’re going to love aerial yoga. Aerial yoga utilizes some of the same postures as traditional yoga but with the assistance of a hammock. The hammock, or “wrap,” is used to support the body, allowing gravity to do its work. And with the extra support, many find it’s easier to achieve proper alignment. Those who have tried it also say it’s quite a bit of fun. We spoke to some aerial yoga instructors across the country to find out more about this latest fitness trend.

The benefits are endless
, says Ella Duke, a co-owner of Elevate Yoga Center in Orlando, Fla. But spinal decompression is one of the biggest. Much like an inversion table at the chiropractor’s office, the aerial hammocks allow the user to safely invert in order to lengthen and release the spine, create space in the joints and ease back pain, while putting zero pressure on the head.

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Students at Elevate Yoga Center in Orlando, Fla., begin their practice.

Students have come to us with everything from scoliosis to disk herniation and have felt great benefits from being upside down, says Kristina Cubrilo, who instructs aerial yoga at Om Factory in Manhattan. With that said, students with any recent spinal surgery should still consult with their doctor before attending a class.

Another regular benefit that comes from regular practice is upper body strength, adds Cubrilo. If you’ve never been able to do a pull-up, that will change.

Perhaps what is most exciting about aerial yoga is that the inversions are more readily available, says Brenda Carter, who instructs aerial yoga at CoreFit Training Studio in Royersford, Pa. They are also compression-free. The thinking is that, while the benefits are the same as traditional yoga, with the body inverted, the lymphatic system is given a boost and the circulation system is detoxified. The aerial yoga wraps also rest on pressure points, stimulating the nervous system and circulation. For those who practice, that has meant everything from eliminating debilitating anxiety and depression to recovery from chronic pain and restricted movement, they report.

During your first class expect to take time to get used to the hammock and how to maneuver it around, says Carter. Your body will learn to trust the hammock and the ways in which it can support and deepen your yoga practice. Go slow and be deliberate in your movements. Also, wear comfortable but fitted apparel—pants are preferred over shorts.

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Rebecca Drake, certified yoga teacher with MomentOm Arts Aerial Yoga in Chapel Hill, N.C., demonstrates one of her favorite aerial yoga positions.

Although it is helpful to have an understanding of yoga, it is by no means a pre-requisite, says Rebecca Drake, certified yoga teacher with MomentOm Arts Aerial Yoga in Chapel Hill, N.C.  If you have any health conditions, speak with the instructor before registering to make sure the class will be appropriate for you. Private lessons can also be a great option that is tailored to your unique needs. Be sure to find a qualified instructor.

Yoga is for everybody—and so is aerial, adds Duke. You need not look a certain way or have a profound understanding of some ancient yogic knowledge. Aerial yoga is a practice like any other. The more you do, the better you will get. You might feel a little bit awkward at first but just keep breathing! In the end, it’s really still just yoga!