Soar Into Aerial Yoga

the endorphin effect

Aerial yoga. It may sound intimidating, but the craze is rapidly gaining popularity at studios across the country. Whether you’ve never heard of aerial yoga or have been itching to give it a try, this post will explore and explain just what this unique form of yoga is all about and if it’s the right type for you!

We must begin with a breakdown of what aerial yoga is. A recent profile in Huffington Post Lifestyle put it this way:
You sit on a soft, fabric hammock that looks kind of like a long scarf. These hammocks are made out of special, high-density nylon material that can support over 2,000 pounds, so don’t worry – you’re not going to tear them.
The hammocks are held up by carabineers, support chains and webbing straps. You can adjust the height according to personal preference, or for better maneuverability. (Note: You’ll also want to bring your normal yoga mat to an aerial yoga class so you have something to stand on.)
Throughout the yoga class, you do various traditional yoga poses or aerial adaptations of traditional poses using the hammock for support.
Some of the most basic poses involve simple stretches while seated on the hammock, while other poses progress to hanging upside down and grabbing your thighs, ankles or feet for support and balance.
the endorphin effect

That some profile went on to highlight some of the benefits of aerial yoga:

  • Greater Flexibility: Since you have more freedom of movement, you can move your body into new positions. In some cases, this can result in a deeper and more fulfilling stretch than traditional yoga offers.
  • Better Focus: By putting yourself in a more challenging situation than usual, aerial yoga forces you to be more alert and aware of your surroundings. You will likely also try to concentrate harder because you’re not used to being suspended in the air during your yoga practice.
  • Strengthened Muscles: Because gravity is working harder on your body than usual, your muscles work harder too. Aerial yoga is also a great core workout because you have to engage your core muscles to balance and stabilize yourself during your yoga session.
  • Stress-Relief: Much like traditional yoga, aerial yoga is great for stress relief. Not only do you use poses and stretches common to other forms of yoga to relieve stress, but you also experience the joy of knowing that you did something new and exciting, which makes you feel good.

When researching the craze that is aerial yoga, you’re bound to come across the benefits and ways it can take your workout and yoga experience to the next level. Shape Magazine put together some of their top benefits, find some of the highlights below:

No skills (or shoes!) required

Let the ACE study test subjects serve as examples: Sixteen randomly selected women, ages 18 to 45, proved you can go into aerial workouts pretty much cold and still get the hang of things. Most aerial yoga studios have classes for first-timers, and AIR offers a “foundation” class for those just starting out.

It counts as cardio too

The ACE researchers figured there would be full-body firming. “Study participants increased muscle mass and decreased fat mass all over, so it’s likely that aerial yoga provides strength-building benefits,” Dalleck says. (Expect to see definition in your shoulders and arms especially, Duggan says.) But the scientists were surprised at just how cardio intensive this form of yoga can be. “At the outset of the study, we didn’t necessarily anticipate that the physiological responses to aerial yoga would align with those of other, more traditional forms of cardio exercises, like cycling and swimming,” Dalleck says. They found that the calorie burn-320 calories in one 50-minute aerial yoga session-is in fact comparable to that of power walking.

You’ll walk away feeling Zen

Research shows that mind-body activities can reduce stress, and aerial yoga is no exception. Many classes end with you lying in savasana, cocooned in a hammock as you gently swing from side to side. Talk about blissing out!

the endorphin effect

We also asked some of our yoga experts at The Endorphin Effect: what should people know about aerial yoga?

“People should know that aerial yoga can be fun yet challenging”

“Yes, you’re going to be in the air. The cloth you hang on is made of silk. You won’t fall. Helps elongate the back and releases tension”

“Aerial yoga is for everyone not just someone thin or strong or flexible. It is more about technique than anything else and is not only fun but also very therapeutic”

“It is very fun, relaxing, yet very strenuous and meditative”