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Aerial Yoga is practicing yoga while you use a hammock-like swing. Since I started Yoga Teacher Training I have been intrigued with aerial yoga. After months of contemplating, I decided to take the plunge and join a class.
I didn’t really have any expectations but I can say it was certainly a different experience. Prior to taking the class, I had heard mixed opinions. Some people feel that aerial yoga is more freeing than traditional on-the-mat yoga. Others have been a bit more uncertain about trying something so new. The height aspect may not be as comfortable for some. (There was a lot of standing up in the hammock. It may be rough if you don’t like heights).
What does an Aerial Yoga class look like?
Generally, in an aerial yoga class, you do the same poses as traditional yoga, they are just modified to perform them while using the sling. For example, in the class that I took, we did tree pose while standing in the hammock. One of my feet was in the hammock while I held on to the sides and raised my other foot.
You may find that practicing aerial yoga allows you to get into poses deeper than traditional poses because some of the pressure is relieved. One of the poses that we did while I was in aerial yoga class was handstand. This is a pose that I’m not normally able to fully do (without the support of a wall) however hanging upside down from the sling, allowed me to stretch out my arms down to my mat and push up into a handstand.
A lot of inversions are explored in aerial yoga class because there is no pressure on the head, hands, or neck.
What to expect at your first class?
I have to admit, I was nervous about arriving at my first class. The teacher was warm and accommodating. I feel like while she did a lot of advanced poses, she offered more beginner-friendly options as well as the option to disregard a pose altogether.
Some of the poses that we did were cat and cow, low lunge, plank, tree, and downward facing dog. There were quite a few inversions and I flipped over about 4 times in my first class. At times the sling hurt rubbing up against my body but I’m not sure if it is something that you just need to get used to the more you practice or if I was possibly doing the pose wrong/holding the sling wrong. I did not feel any lasting effects or any soreness the next day.
The teacher ended our aerial yoga class with a savasana in a cocoon. The savasana lasted about 15 minutes. During savasana, the teacher cut the lights and passed out essential oil scented washcloths for our heads. I have to say it was a really nice touch. It felt good to just relax and be for that long especially since I took the class late in the evening.
I could even see a teacher leading a brief meditation in the same environment.
What to wear to an Aerial Yoga class?
I wasn’t 100% sure what to wear so I defaulted to my normal yoga attire. I wore leggings and a tank top but I wore a sports bra under the tank top because I wasn’t sure if my shirt was going to open up if I was hanging upside down. I also wore socks and sneakers but I took both off. I brought my yoga mat and placed it under the sling as many of the poses required a part of my body to touch the floor. My recommendation would be to steer clear of baggy clothes since there is a lot of interaction with the sling and you don’t want your clothes to get caught up while you are mid-flip. I also brought a water bottle and I used it many times during the class.
Aerial yoga might seem like an intimidating exercise at first but it can be incredibly rewarding and exciting. Many gyms and yoga studios offer aerial classes for people of all fitness and skill levels. Check into the aerial options in your area, and you just might discover your favorite form of exercise yet.