Aerial Yoga Equipment Ad Hoc Buyers Guide
At the start of my aerial yoga teaching I needed equipment fast and so I purchased in bulk several rigs from a leading brand. However, even before I took receipt of my order I started to experience a level of buyer’s remorse and by the time they did arrive concluded that I would be sending them back and getting a refund.
My main reason for this in short was because I felt like I could get greater value elsewhere, but when further explored a leading desire of mine was to have rigs in a range of colours and not just the same two tones that bulk purchase would of provided.
Whereas some teachers may like a more uniform aesthetic and all matching colours to their rigs perhaps to promote a bit order in their classes my own mischievous reasoning was instilled by something my teacher had said to me about the practice.
To paraphrase: aerial yoga has the ability to unlock the inner child or childlike wonder inside of us, which on a psychological level can be an added bonus if students need a break from every day life and this further helps promote positive mental health.
The practice can project the mind to an eased, creative and playful way of thinking that makes one become more present in the body and breath rather than the noise of the head such is the practice’s power.
Furthermore, it was my teacher’s belief and now mine that in order to stimulate that inner child having the multicolours of choice hanging there increases the likelihood of that desired mental response by softening the room and encouraging creativity in movement both consciously or subconsciously.
I’m drawn to a comparison of a child being presented with colouring pens and a blank piece of paper and being asked to draw something or simply see the air as the canvas and the body fused with the equipment as the paintbrush.
So back to my purchase, at that point in time I discovered one of the original brands and started speaking to Gravotonics in my quest to find out the origins of this form of aerial yoga.
And it became apparent to me that they were able to custom make rigs at their workshop in Bali, Indonesia and provide me with a range of different coloured two tones at my request.
These ranged from everything to Blue & Dark Blue to Purple & Light Purple to Emerald & Dark Turquoise as well as Mid Blue & Royal Blue to Maroon & Red.
By going with Gravotonics they not only fulfilled my order of a bulk purchase with so much variation in colour they also gave me a reduction in cost that was comparatively similar to the other brand I had initially purchased from. Even though it did require me to wait a little longer as is said, “good things come to those who wait”.
Since then I have never regretted my decision of my initial change of mind from that other leading brand we shall not name and going with what Gravotonics is still offering.
My rigs are now 4-years old, heavily used and still in great condition.
The following is a further break down of things to consider designed to aide people in purchasing aerial yoga equipment but also includes my own personal preference.
Bear in mind this is specifically for rigs made out of a firmer fabric and ones that also include side handles and should not be confused with the other form of aerial yoga also known as Anti-Gravity.
Cost – the most decisive factor for most people, but also potentially an indicator of quality (not always!) with cheap versions available online for as little as £30 with more premium ones being priced at £60 to upwards of £100.
It is worth having an internal dialogue here to see seriously how committed to the practice you intend to be – if this is something that could ultimately end up in the back of a cupboard seldom used or even forgot about in the garage or attic (you know who you are!) perhaps go with the cheaper option to save yourself from yourself and a bit of money.
You can always upgrade if you change your mind.
However, if you already have experience with the practice, are committed to it and are thinking more long term as well as wanting equipment that is going to be safe and last then premium offerings are more suitable for you.
Gravotonics are currently quite competitive with their pricing topping out at $90 and providing a further 20% for orders of 4 or more rigs.
Colour(s) – as with a yoga mat the colour/colours may say a lot about you as person or maybe you just want something that looks neat.
Single tone can be good, but the benefit of having two slightly different tones as in two colours of fabric can aide students in seeing more quickly if the fabric is twisted and tangled in places it shouldn’t be.
Gravotonics offer both single coloured rigs and two tones. For more custom colour options it’s worth reaching out to them directly as I did.
Size Differences – different brands work with different dimensions both in the main sling and with the side handles. Cheaper options generally seem to have long straps that are far too short limiting the range of poses available.
The other main reason I actually returned my order from that other leading brand was because I discovered that the main sling was not as accommodating for my larger body (I’m about 6ft) when wanting to be completely supported in certain poses such as Supta Baddha Konsana (Reclined Butterfly Pose).
Due to my style of teaching incorporating more restorative elements at times that extra few inches or so of fabric was a must for me to cocoon my students.
However, I’ve also realised over time if that fabric is slightly larger it can be trickier for some students to get in the right place especially when going fully inverted and wrapping the legs around.
If the class is quite active and relying more on poses that are acrobatic and TRX based less fabric may be preferable.
I still feel though that by having the main sling bigger it provides more comfort & support where necessary and once aware of any issue it can be easily adjusted and taught out. After all it is fabric not stone.
Handles – just like size handles vary from brand to brand with cheaper ones using cheaper materials and a foam that breaks off too easily and is not tightly fitted.
Gravotonics use tightly fitted spongy foam that is quite durable & resistant as long as properly cared for and also feels great on the hands and on the feet.
There are rigs out there that have more solid rubber handles and here again it comes down to preference. Another teacher I know prefers these because her classes are quite dynamic and involve a lot gymnastic type movement and to her these handles feel more solid.
Personally, I have found rubber handles with me to crack under pressure possibly because of my heavier body weight and find Gravotonics ones durable and perfect for my needs as well as my students.
S-hooks vs Carabiners – my personal preference is for S-hooks as long as they are from a reputable brand and are fitted on to straps that are tight at each end of the loops rather than stitched open that’s more commonly with daisy chains.
S-hooks are light, quick & easy to adjust and as long as they’ve been fitted in the loops correctly again work well for my needs and style of teaching.
For example, in a large class S-hooks are much easier for me to adjust quickly for my students who are struggling.
Again my aerial yoga teacher friend prefers the added security of carabiners and I get this especially in countries like the United States where certain measures are extreme, litigation like a fashion trend and insurance a factor.
However, bear in mind cheaper brands will often repurpose the wrong type of carabiners that are too small or cumbersome in a way that may damage the material too easily when adjusting.
With Gravotonics I do not have this problem as they do use S-hooks and come with some decent straps, which I have upgraded to triple stitched hammock straps in studios with high ceilings.
Functionality – recently I’ve seen on the market a type of rig from a leading brand that appears to fix the handles and main sling at the same height and does not allow them to be moved around separately.
I find this difficult to get my head around as this design choice creates limitations.
So many poses and types of unique movement can only be unlocked by having the option to move the handles to a different height to the main sling.
Any rig that fixes both in one place in my opinion negates a large chunk of the practice and what can be discovered.
I admit though I have not seen this type of rig in person but have only taught a few students online using it. As it is quite pricy I have no desire to purchase one to compare it with others though so let me know if you own one.
Manufacturing – some brands produce their equipment in China and in places with poor working conditions.
I feel like if suffering was a part of the process in making the yoga equipment on an energetical level at least that is not something that should be brought into the room.
Fortunately Gravotonics make their rigs in Bali, Indonesia to ethical working standards and even give back to the community 5% of profits.
Guarantee – more premium brands do seem to offer guarantees on their equipment including Gravotonics.
That means if something breaks that shouldn’t you can get a replacement.
However, this may require additional postage & packaging costs so do bear this in mind.
This list is in no way comprehensive and it is always worth doing your own research and reading up on stuff before making a purchase and also be weary of any swanky advertising video campaigns you may see that make it seem like there is only one way to hang.
So much is down to preference and over time your experience.
A firm starting point to further get your head around all of this would be www.gravotonics.com/swing-info/yoga-swings/ but do look at the other options out there please.
By Marc Cross, Founder of Hang Out Yoga
– The Home for Aerial Yoga & Yoga Trapeze in the UK