Do you love practicing yoga but sometimes have trouble with inversion, or upside-down positions? Or maybe you dream of a life flying through the air and hanging upside-down, like a monkey? For all of you, the easy answer is aerial yoga.
Aerial yoga is a form of yoga that incorporates a hammock hung from the ceiling into the traditional Asana, or poses. According to Michelle Dortignac, the founder of Unnata Yoga in New York City and professional aerial acrobatics performer, the hammock is used “as a tool to assist and support floor Asana, to develop and condition the body and mind so as to better understand floor Asana, and to provide moments of true levitation.” However, she adds, a non-aerial yoga class, or one that does not use a hammock, shouldn’t, at its core, feel all that different from one that does. They both have the same goals: relaxing the mind, creating alertness, and bringing the body and mind into alignment.
Still, aerial yoga presents some benefits that aren’t covered by grounded yoga. For instance, inversion poses, or ones that involve flipping upside-down in a headstand, shoulder stand, or similar topsy-turvy position, are made much easier since the tension on the spine is relieved by being suspended in the air. Normally, these positions might be difficult for beginners to access, but the hammock makes it much easier for beginners and advanced yogis alike to perfect these positions. “In addition, creating space in the spine can make heart-opening/back-bending postures more comfortable,” Dortignac said. “And, one develops core strength fairly quickly, which is beneficial for any activity one does throughout the day.”
Of course, those who are prone to motion sickness or other discomfort associated with blood rushing to the head should take care when performing these poses, both with and without a hammock to assist them. Additionally, those who are pregnant or who suffer from vertigo should probably give this one a miss. However, Dortignac recommends that anyone who is curious, whether they be a beginner or veteran yogi, should give aerial yoga a try, as, she said, “It’s unexplainably magical.”