Aerial Yoga Lets More Yogis Fly

Yoga offers many ways for students to defy gravity. Aerial Yoga is a fun way to make defying gravity more accessible to all students.
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Yoga offers many ways for students to defy gravity. Aerial Yoga is a fun way to make defying gravity more accessible to all students.

From inversions to arm balances, yoga offers many ways to defy gravity. However, it can takes years of strength building and alignment training to practice most gravity-defying poses safely. And while it might seem more daunting to try these poses from a waist high silk hammock, aerial yoga devotees say it makes challenging poses accessible, safer--and more fun, too.

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In fact, Christopher Harrison, who founded AntiGravity Yoga, discovered the freedom of aerial yoga when he was searching for relief for his body after years of dance and competing as a world-class gymnast. "I found that my body was pretty beat up, so that's how I discovered yoga," he said. "But even yoga was hard on my body."

AntiGravity Yoga, on the other hand, allows students the benefits of yoga without the impact or strain because it's practiced suspended in the air from a hammock. The discipline combines yoga poses and principles with elements from aerial arts, dance, gymnastics, Pilates, and calisthenics.The hammock costs $450 on the AntiGravity website.

Whether it's for the accessibility to poses or the fun factor, aerial yoga is catching on big time. Harrison's AntiGravity Yoga, which is based in New York City, boasts 300 teachers and 6,000 students practicing at more than 50 locations worldwide, including Madonna's new fitness studio chain Hard Candy Fitness.

While AntiGravity Yoga might be the most recognized brand to use a silk hammock to combine aerial arts and yoga, it's not the only option. Jordan Anderson, who has taught Unnata Aerial Yoga in the Charleston, SC area for the past three years, has also noticed an increased interest recently.

"On a physical level, hanging in the sling allows us to find correct alignment through relaxation rather than effort, and getting in and out of the poses builds very deep core strength," Anderson says. "On an energetic level, aerial yoga can be enlightening because it is so playful."

It can be a great complement to a yoga practice, but it can't replace the work you do on the yoga mat, she adds. "Aerial yoga is not meant to replace a floor practice, but rather to inspire and enhance it."

Is this something you'd try?