Basics of Aerial Yoga for Beginners
Wow! Just when you thought Yoga couldn’t get any better, here comes the new style of Aerial Yoga sweeping the world. Yoga hammocks are being used to transform yoga into a new way for you to experience yoga and exceed your expectations of what you thought was possible with your body.
If you are completely new to Aerial Yoga, you’ll find everything you need to know about how to get started and what to expect from your first Aerial Yoga Class.
What is Aerial or “Anti-Gravity” Yoga?
This new and exciting form of yoga was developed by a former gymnast, Chris Harrison. Aerial yoga mixes together ancient yoga techniques with modern acrobatic exercises in order to create a total body workout that is fun yet challenging. Aerial yoga combines your traditional mat yoga with new poses that are done while suspended in the air.
You get a new form that allows you to stretch without the pressure on your joints. With the use of yoga hammocks and gravity, you can reach new limits while experiencing a feeling as though you were floating in the air. Like other forms of yoga, Aerial Yoga will quite the mind, build core strength, untangle knots, and leave you feeling refreshed! You don’t need any prior yoga experience to try anti-gravity yoga and any fitness level can participate.
There are different intensity workouts, from beginner to expert. In short, Aerial Yoga is a new type of yoga that uses a hammock (or yoga swing) to help students achieve yoga poses.
With the use of yoga hammocks and gravity, you can reach new limits while experiencing a feeling as though you were floating in the air. Like other forms of yoga, Aerial Yoga will quite the mind, build core strength, untangle knots, and leave you feeling refreshed!
You don’t need any prior yoga experience to try anti-gravity yoga and any fitness level can participate. There are different intensity workouts, from beginner to expert. In short, Aerial Yoga is a new type of yoga that uses a hammock (or yoga swing) to help students achieve yoga poses.
Benefits of Aerial Yoga
By raising the body off the ground, Aerial Yoga is extremely beneficial to the body based on the theory of counter-gravity. Gravity constantly puts stress on the body by weighing it down. This causes compression on your spine and tension throughout your body.
Counter gravity works to reverse these side effects of gravity. Aerial yoga works to recompress the spin, improve overall blood circulation in the body, and release muscle tension. Here is a quick list of all the benefits you can experience with the practice of Areal Yoga:
- Re-alignment of the spine
- Reduces back pain and soreness in the muscles
- Healthier digestive and lymphatic systems
- Increased relaxation and improved mood
- Anti-aging, due to the counter-acting of gravitational effects on the body
- Improved flexibility
- Higher levels of energy
- Increased focus
- Decompression of the joints and spinal discs
- Increased endorphin levels
- Cardiovascular improvement
- Improvement of symptoms in those with breathing conditions
- Increased muscular strength
- Improved blood circulation
Incredible! Aerial yoga is a unique workout that has both strength training and cardio components, making it a full body workout. You’ll also experience an endless range of motion as you are suspended in the air and no pressure on any single part of your body.
Aerial Yoga can also be used as a great tool for weight loss and according to an article in Shape Magazine:
“A new study from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) found that women who did three 50-minute aerial yoga classes a week for six weeks lost an average of two and a half pounds, 2 percent body fat, and about one inch from their waist, all while amping their VO2 max (a measure of fitness) by a whopping 11 percent. In fact, aerial yoga qualifies as a moderate-intensity workout that, at times, can veer into vigorous territory.”
Aerial Yoga Hammock (Yoga Swing) and Equipment
The hammock is essential to aerial yoga and it’s what separates it from traditional yoga practices. There are two different types of Yoga Hammocks:
Aerial Yoga Hammock Double Point: These yoga hammocks are also called “slings” and it’s basically 4 to 10 yards of specialized fabric that is mounted between TWO points. This yoga hammock does not swing and is usually easier to get in and out of. The bottom of the hammock is usually hip height but can vary depending on the studio.
Aerial Yoga Hammock Single Point: This has one contact point with the ceiling and does spin. The length of your hammock will depend on your ceiling height, or attachment point AND on the distance, you need the bottom of your hammock to be from the floor. If you plan on doing any flipping, please make sure you have your hammock set closer to your shoulder height from the floor.
Regardless of your fitness level, both hammocks will work great. Personally, I recommend the Double point because it is a lot easier to use and you won’t get dizzy because you won’t be spinning around. It’s far more stable.
If you are planning on buying an Aerial Yoga Hammock for your home, I would recommend going to Amazon.com where you can see what other people have been saying about the product. A popular choice on Amazon is the UpCircleSeven Aerial Yoga Set:
This set provides you with everything you need to get started and set up the Aerial Yoga Swing, including a set of 4 high-strength stainless stell carabiners. The set can be set up and used indoors or outdoors!
Yoga Mat: Be aware that you will STILL NEED a YOGA MAT! If you are going to class be sure to bring your own mat. If you are unsure of what type of mat you need, read my Guide to Buying the Right Yoga Mat. Most studios will have spare yoga mats for those who are new but I highly recommend buying your own. A good aerial yoga mat that can be used indoors and outdoors is this thick, non-slip yoga mat from Amazon:
Water and a sweat towel are also handy to have with you.
How to Start Aerial Yoga
Most major cities will have yoga studios that offer aerial yoga classes. These classes might also be called “defy gravity yoga” or “anti-gravity yoga”. Prices will vary based on the studio and typically equipment is provided.
If you are in a location that does not offer aerial yoga classes or they are not within driving distance or at the right time to work with your schedule, you can always practice aerial yoga at home. Your upfront cost will be higher since you will have to purchase your own yoga swing, but in the long run, you’ll save time and money.
At-Home Aerial Yoga
If you don’t want to bolt your yoga hammock to the ceiling, there are other options. You can take and assemble your aerial yoga hammock anywhere with the Trapeze Stand, a product offered at YogaBody.com.
Once you have your yoga hammock installed you can take a look at aerial yoga guided videos. YogaBody offers these guided videos and at different levels. You can also look up videos on YouTube but I would recommend using something more reliable and structured as well as guides that are done by certified professionals.
Here is an example of a beginner’s guide to the Yoga Swing which can be found on Amazon
What to Wear for Aerial Yoga Class
Clothing for Aerial Yoga is a little different than the yoga clothing I recommended in my traditional yoga clothing guide. With Aerial Yoga you want to wear something that covers your armpits and knees. You still do not want to wear clothing that is loose. A perfect example of what to wear would be a form-fitting t-shirt and leggings.
My favorite place to get comfortable leggings is from Fitness Junkies. They also have snug tops with sleeves that are very soft and comfortable.
Aerial yoga is practiced barefoot but you may also wear socks if you chose to.
DO NOT: Absolutely no jewelry, belts, or any other sharp objects. Do not put on lotion before you go, you need your hands to be able to grip the silky fabric.
Also, be sure to hydrate before you go and be careful about what you eat as well. Read more about What to Eat Before and After Yoga for more details on the best foods to eat before Aerial Yoga class.
I hope that this guide has helped you learn more about Aerial Yoga and how to get started! If you have any questions that were not answered, please ask in the comment section below!