Although I’m a CrossFitter through and through, part of the CrossFit philosophy is to try other sports and activities whenever you get the chance. So, when I saw the chance to take an aerial yoga class recently, I signed up immediately.
Not only did it look like a physical challenge I hadn’t yet tried, but also what woman doesn’t dream of floating through the air ethereally wrapped in pieces of silk? But, like most sports, there’s a lot more to aerial yoga than silk and graceful arms.
What Is Aerial Yoga?
Aerial yoga, also sometimes called antigravity yoga, combines traditional yoga with elements of aerial acrobatics, creating new physical demands on the body.
Like any type of fitness, most people will start with beginner’s classes and then work their way up to more complicated and complex moves, including positions that have the body completely inverted.
Like regular yoga, aerial yoga incorporates almost every muscle in your body and requires you to keep a tight core, a tucked bottom and to breath correctly. Doing it regularly has lots of great benefits from encouraging mobility and flexibility to improving your cardiovascular health.
Aerial yoga implements a silk hammock that hangs from a rig on the ceiling. Often just referred to as the “silks”, you will use the hammock to wrap and contort yourself into some pretty crazy positions.
In our class, we also used a traditional yoga mat beneath the silks where we performed our warm ups and stretches.
The class I took was at a small studio in the downtown area of where I live. The studio I used purposely keeps their classes very small, allowing only five people to make reservations for each class.
In the class, we first ran through some basic positioning on our yoga mat before moving up to the silks. We started with some simpler moves before moving into the more complex movements.
Aerial yoga is very safe and even when we progressed to movements where we were leaning backwards or turning completely upside down, the silks were wrapped around us securely, leaving room for us to focus on our breathing and keeping our core muscles tight. That being said — OUCH — the silks are painful and will leave bruising in the areas where you wrap them.
Make sure to wear long sleeve tight fitting clothes. Billowy clothes will be a hinderance using the hammock and the long sleeves will protect vulnerable areas like your armpits and thighs from the bite of the silk during certain movements.
What I Liked
I love yoga, but haven’t taken a class since college, so I loved falling back into that pattern of movement. Contrary to what some may think, yoga is an extremely challenging way to work out and adding an aerial element to it just made it that much more dimensional.
I always leave yoga feeling like a rag that’s just been wrung out and aerial yoga was no different. This time, I left feeling like my hips were as loose as they could get and covered in mysterious red welts all over my hips and bottom.
What I Loved
Because my class size was so small, our instructor had time to focus on each one of us individually and would physically move us into the right positions. Although it startled me the first time she came up behind me to push my abs down and my bottom into place, I appreciated it later on when my core was screaming from the workout.
Because of that, I wouldn’t recommend taking a large class, especially as a beginner. I consider myself pretty fit — I do CrossFit anywhere from four to six days a week — but I still needed quite a bit of assistance and was grateful for it.
My favorite part of yoga is always the end where we take a few minutes to recenter ourselves. I use this time usually to relax, pray and just enjoy the silence. In aerial yoga, you get to do all of that, but while cocooned like a butterfly in your hammock and gently rocking back and forth. It may be the most peaceful five minutes I’ve ever experienced.
The studio where I trained offers classes at $22 each. However, some studios may offer different methods of paying for classes, like passes that allow you to take so many classes a month or a flat monthly fee.