Originally Published on 6/5/2020
As traditional yoga has branched out over the years into many contemporary forms, we find people are asking more and more, what is aerial yoga?
Modern yoga is generally more fitness-focused and its popularity has grown significantly in the west along with this progression.
The benefits of yoga are well-known to those that practice regularly. How it helps in relaxation, improves your focus and thinking, in therapy, and many more is already of our knowledge.
Even those that don’t are generally aware that it is good for us in many ways. Aerial yoga is part of this movement of fitness-based yoga styles bringing diversity and additional benefits to your practice.
If versatility is your middle name, then doing aerial yoga is one of the things you should definitely not miss.
A little history…
The use of the silk hammock as an aerial prop was first discovered by Christopher Harrison in the early 90s.
First it began as an aid for his dance choreography that incorporated acrobatics, artistic sports, and contemporary dance. Over the years he continued to experiment with movement and stretch. He soon realized the benefits of stretching in a suspended fashion as a natural addition to his performance warm-ups.
Aerial yoga became an officially recognized practice at the turn of the Millennium using the aerial hammocks.
At a similar time, Tone Cardenas, a Physical Therapist put together a fabric hammock hung from a metal frame, with rope handles while experimenting with inversion therapy to relieve back pain.
These contraptions with a spring suspension system first went onto the market in 2001 for people to use in the home, and therapists to use in rehabilitation settings. And not long after, its popularity grew leading to what we are now…
The Gravotonics Yoga Swing
The Gravotonics Aerial Yoga Swing that we all know and love today however was created in 2003 on the island of Bali, by Kerrie Neal, who was living in Bali at the time when she met a small crew of sewers who were hand-making aerial hammocks from parachute material for local shops/resorts, tourists, and yoga studios.
After becoming passionate about the aerial hammocks, Kerrie who was involved in the yoga community on the island designed this versatile apparatus. Featuring two handles sewn with the parachute nylon and added the 3 padded grips for maneuverability, safety, and comfort.
You need not worry about the sling tearing as most hammocks/swings can support 200kgs quite safely. Whether you are a teen, an adult, or anywhere in the age spectrum, you can trust our swings to only give you efficiency and safety.
There have been a lot of other manufacturers who have ventured into the business, but we all know that the original will always be the best.
Kerrie began hosting aerial yoga workshops in Bali with both the aerial hammock as well as the yoga swings. They have since become popular props for yogis all around the world.
You will find both aerial hammocks and yoga swings used in different studios and gyms depending on the style and teacher. If you are a beginner, it is better to do your research first on which type of equipment to get and intensity to do. Better yet, if you are unsure, find a professional instructor for better guidance.
Styles of Aerial Yoga
There are quite a few options now when it comes to the types of aerial yoga classes. When choosing your style, the majority is certainly up to your preference. Yet, you also should consider what your body needs and ask for, and what it can handle.
There are the “fun” dynamic styles, with high-flying tricks which could be considered more yang. Then there are those that are slower, more meditative, and restorative, which you would say is yin.
Just as with traditional yoga practices, aerial yoga incorporates breathwork and generally will finish with savasana. Depending on the studio, they may include spirituality teachings and/or chanting as well.
If you are not a fan of the chanting, then it is fine. There are studios that offer aerial yoga sessions in total silence for its beneficial effects to the mind.
The Aerial Yoga poses vary according to difficulties so you do not need to worry about it being too hard. Besides, you do not necessarily need to begin with inversions. Similar to any workout, you start slow in aerial yoga then progress day by day.
There is nothing to be scared of since you have a swing to support you all the way. But overall, it is a fun and productive experience that everyone should try.
So What Exactly Is Aerial Yoga?
I’m sure if you are reading this you have some idea of what aerial yoga or anti-gravity yoga as it is also known, is all about. However, it is a yoga practice that combines Traditional Yoga and Pilates exercises with the use of aerial slings.
Most poses are simply done on the floor like regular yoga, with the sling used for support purposes only. And aside from support, it spices up your fitness routine of the day even at the comforts of your own home.
Suits All Levels & Styles
For beginners, it offers a level of support in each pose to help students learn and practice proper alignment as strength improves.
Difficult floor postures can be performed more easily and with less strain on the body, while suspended.
Those with solid yoga experience will find the extra assistance the perfect addition during more challenging postures.
An example of this is helping to improve alignment and flexibility while performing Warrior II pose.
Standing in a sling suspended above the floor, an advanced yogi will need to recruit a new level of core muscle stabilization and balance to control any wobbling.
The sling is generally hung from the ceiling, about three feet off the ground. Practitioners are able to feel supported in backbends and in partial inversions such as the downward-facing dog.
However, there are also many adaptations of traditional asana that allow you to practice suspended in the air.
As well as aerial-only poses like full inversions and flying spider pose. The Aerial Inverted Downward Dog allows for the swing to support your pelvis while executing the pose.
With Aerial Dancer, the flexes and stretches are a lot easier to do without having to mind the ground. Aerial Dancer also has its inverse variation which is good for stretching the lower back.
An Aerial Corpse Pose is best for relaxation after a long day and even helps with sensory issues especially when you feel like there is so much going on around you.
The Yoga Hammock can also be your friend in moments of panic or anxiety.
Supported poses such as Bridge Pose, Fire Hydrant Pose, Standing Revolved Pose, One Legged Warrior Poses are only a few that contribute to stronger and more toned legs.
Complex poses such as the Susan Pose, Inverted Standing Split Pose, Vampire Pose, Swan Pose, Hanging Thigh Fly Pose are poses that you will encounter going through the journey of aerial yoga.
It will not be easy at first, but there is definitely nothing that you cannot learn or develop when it comes to this practice. And it is not just for exercising purposes: you can also use the equipment as a hammock for lounging, reading a book, an afternoon nap – up to you!
With the Gravotonics Bali Yoga Swings, you get more bang for your buck.
Curious about the poses we just described? Although they may sound complicated now, but the fulfillment of learning them is enough to keep going. There are still a lot more poses to discover in aerial yoga — start now!
So Is It Better Than Floor Yoga?
Aerial yoga classes and studios are opening all over the world, bringing the benefits of the yoga practice to a new setting. Through the use of the yoga swing, practitioners are able to go deeper into poses, challenging their flexibility in a safe manner. Along with building core strength and balance during static holds and transitions, it also strengthens the arms and legs.
The traditional yoga is already good as it is, yet with aerial yoga, it is literally and figuratively a whole new level of experience. If you have been doing yoga for quite some time and are looking for a way to change things up, then aerial yoga might be for you!
Another benefit that is relatively unknown is that it provides the action of pulling, a movement that is lacking in normal floor yoga.
In aerial yoga, the swing provides the majority of the pulling for you. Not to mention, it helps to decompress the spine with inversions, relieves back pain, and over time improves posture. It also helps in easing down the tension in your scapula or shoulder blades.
Aerial yoga is also beneficial in improving circulation, boosting digestion, and lifting one’s mood. Inversion poses take advantage of gravity to help one’s body recirculate accumulated fluids back to the upper portion of our bodies. It eases fatigue and swelling of the lower extremities.
Isn’t it an amazing feeling to fly in the air?
Wouldn’t it be awesome to be a “trapeze artist” while actually doing your workout or yoga practice?
Quite simply, aerial yoga takes traditional yoga practice to a whole new level!
Words cannot express how much aerial yoga has helped tons of people in their individual fitness journeys. Whether they are new to working out, finding their way to fitness, recovering from an injury, or even an elderly, aerial yoga has never let them down.
Still skeptical? You can read more from our blog posts to help you decide.
If you have not tried a Yoga Swing Workout yet, what are you waiting for?!
Give yourself a new reason to start each day with a big goal in mind!
Aerial Yoga FAQ
Q. Can beginners do aerial yoga?
A. Great question! You might think you need a background in acrobatics or to be extra flexible to do aerial yoga, however, that is not the case! Aerial yoga is for all ages and skill levels. The use of the yoga swing supports you in your practice. Get started today!
Q. Is aerial yoga hard?
A. As with all yoga practice, it requires focus and dedication to become proficient. There are varying degrees of intensity, depending on the style. You can take it easy with yin styles and restorative yoga, or take on more challenging yang styles. You may feel sore after your first few sessions, which is expected with any new exercise!
Q. Is anti-gravity yoga good for you?
A. Anti-gravity yoga is extremely beneficial for you. It incorporates traditional yoga poses with the aerial hammock, which supports your joints while suspended and allows you to ease into each pose safely. It is great for building strength, balance, flexibility and helps to relieve stress, detoxify the lymphatic systems, and many more benefits.
Q. What is aerial yoga good for?
A. Aerial yoga helps to maintain good balance, flexibility, and muscle tone. It is great for rehabilitation and relieving pressure on the back and joints. It will undoubtedly enhance not only your yoga practice but also your general health!
Q. Is aerial yoga good for weight loss?
A. Yes, just like with mat yoga, regular aerial practice can help you to lose weight. As the American Council on Exercise (ACE) has shown, women on average lose 2 percent body fat over an initial 6-week period.
Q. Is aerial yoga good for your back?
A. Yes, it can be very gentle on the back using a yoga hammock to support your movements and posture. The hammock allows your spine to decompress and you can safely feel deeper into extension poses without using much effort.
Q. Where should I start if I want to do Aerial Yoga?
A. One of the best ways to start your Aerial Yoga journey is to find yourself a welcoming community. Visit an Aerial Yoga group near you or connect with us!