I love Aerial Yoga. I love the fluidity, grace, strength, and fun that Aerial Yoga brings. It’s such a cool way to practice Yoga, and when done properly, it can be a great practice to uplift, calm, or center (just like a great traditional Yoga practice). It can be as restoring or as physically-challenging as you want it to be (or both).
You can use the hammock as a prop to assist in certain poses (like in Natarajasana, or “King Dancer Pose”on the right) which allows certain poses to become more accessible for those working on increasing their stability and/or flexibility. While in a pose like Natarajasana with a hammock, you can pull the fabric forward and up simultaneously to increase the back bend.
You might be saying to yourself, “I can use a yoga strap to achieve the same pose.” It is true that you can use a yoga strap to achieve an Assisted Natarajasana, but the aerial hammock allows for more versatility in assisting with other poses like Uttitha Hasta Padangusthasana (“Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose”like this one on the left). This assisted pose allows the body to build up the stability and flexibility gradually while learning proper alignment and gaining confidence that you can achieve the unassisted/unmodified version of the pose(s) in the future.
Another aspect of Aerial Yoga that I love is the inversions. When I teach traditional (Hatha and Hatha Flow) Yoga classes, the only “inversion” that I teach is Viparita Karani (also known as “Jack Knife” or “Legs up the Wall”) because it does not compress the cervical spine. Ever since I was involved in a car accident two years ago (I was rear-ended by a vehicle going about 40 mph), I no longer do my favorite inversion, Sirsasana (“Headstand”) because my I’ve lost a lot of the curvature in my neck (see my blog titled “Inversion Addiction“). Aerial Yoga gives me an alternative and therapeutic way to invert without compressing any part of the spine.
Here’s me doing one of my favorite inversions, Inverted Pigeon:
This pose, along with other aerial inversions, allows the spine to decompress, creating more space between the discs which becomes more and more important as we get older. (On a side note, did you know that after about 30 years of age, your spinal discs begin to dry out because the water content in them begins to decrease? Creating space in the discs allows them to “suck up” moisture like a sponge.)
To be completely honest, I haven’t done an aerial yoga practice in 12 days, and my spine definitely feels the difference! I’ll be planning some time with my hammock this week!