Love yoga and being upside-down? We think we've found the perfect thing for you. We got to work with the lovely Melina Gale, an aerial yoga teacher, who spends most of her life upside-down, to bring you everything you need to know about Aerial Yoga.
(Image via @antigravityturkey)
Aerial Yoga is a hybrid yoga practice which combines traditional Hatha Yoga poses, aerial acrobatic arts and body conditioning exercises performed with the aid of an aerial hammock. Classes can range from gentle and restorative to very demanding depending on how the hammock is used, making it suitable for people of all levels of experience and physical ability.
(Image via @airfitnow)
Aerial Yoga has all the same benefits of regular yoga with some added extras, including:
(Image via @nirvanayogavihara)
Using an aerial hammock makes inversions obtainable to everyone regardless of experience or physical condition. Our bodies get better oxygenation through increased blood flow to the brain during inversions which have many health and anti-ageing benefits such as:
Aerial Yoga also helps to build confidence and self-esteem. "I've noticed most Aerial beginners are under the impression they can't or won't be able to perform the inversions or acrobatics in the class," Melina tells us. "I have seen the look of pure joy on my students' faces when they overcome their fear and try and actually accomplish it... sometimes they even tear up - as do I; it's really an amazing experience for both the student and the teacher."
(Image via @caro_msk)
The Aerial Yoga Hammock is made from a specific type of synthetic fabric, that is both soft and durable. The Hammock is hung from the ceiling, ending close to the floor which enables you to aid or add difficulty to certain yoga poses, while also being able to explore acrobatic movement in the air.
(Image via @landairseayoga)
There is a big difference between Aerial Yoga and Swing. First of all the swing was originally designed just as a product along with a users guide which one could use on their own to aid in certain stretches/strengthening exercises and inversions. Aerial Yoga is a whole yoga practice adapted to the use of the hammock, taught by certified yoga teachers. The fabrics are also completely different; Aerial yoga hammocks are made of a soft, slightly stretchy fabric which is at least 6 meters long and 2 meters wide.
The Swing has handles on it and is made out of parachute material which has no stretch and is much shorter, limiting the range of movements one is able to explore. You can not step on the swing or fully get into it as you can with the Aerial Hammock.
The frame is a metal frame that you can buy and set up at your house to hang the Aerial hammock or swing from if you don't want to (or can't) hang it from the ceiling. There is also the handy doorway frame, that doesn't need screws; it just wedges in your door frame!
You can get the aerial yoga swing and frame set on Amazon for £89.95
(Image via @aerialkathleen)
There is also another type of aerial exercise called "Aerial Silks" which are a long fabric hung from a very high ceiling. This is more of a dance/acrobatic performance, not yoga. And there are also aerial hoops, which is a hula hoop suspended from the ceiling where you again would perform circus-like acrobatics.
(Image via @misstammydarling)
If someone wants to do Aerial Yoga at home, we would first recommend they are very familiar with the aerial hammocks and how to safely use them. Taking classes with a certified teacher is a must in order to learn the practice. It's also best if they are a confident solo yoga practitioner. If you do go the at-home route and buy your own hammock, the ceilings have to be at least 2.70 in height and there should be around 1.5 meters of free space in front and behind and either side of the exercise area, in order to be able to explore the full range of movements safely with the hammock.
If you are ready to take the plunge and buy your own yoga hammock, here are some of our favourites.
This Inversion Therapy Anti-Gravity aerial yoga hammock comes in navy blue with and extendable strip to adjust the length which is 1.8m long.
This yoga hammock is made out of a stretch nylon material. It's easy to assemble or travel with and can be hung indoors or outdoors. It can hold up to 200kg and is 500x280cm.
The Dopobo yoga hammock is 5m by 2.8m and can hold a maximum weight of 200kg. Tha material is just stretchy enough for a natural spine traction effect, so you can reap the full muscle-stretching benefits of aerial yoga.
There are a few ways different ways you can set up a yoga hammock, and if you're not sure, you should definitely ask for help from a professional who will know if (a) the area you're drilling in to is safe and (b) how much weight it can hold. Here are some videos we've found to help you set up your yoga hammock.
There are so many Aerial Yoga poses, almost as many as there are regular yoga poses, and we teamed up with Melina and got her to show us 10 of her favourites.
There aren't many books on Aerial Yoga but if you want to further your reading on the subject, here are a couple to get you started.
Here are some Aerial Yoga videos you can do at home if you have a yoga hammock.
So what are you waiting for? Get upside-down!
Melina Gale is an Ashtanga Vinyasa trained yoga teacher from Chicago based in Greece. She trained with The Yoga People at All Yoga Thailand, and has furthered her studies in Swaha Aerial Yoga, and Prenatal Yoga. Melina's teaching style is encouraging and lighthearted, her mission is to "help her students navigate their busy lives with the help of Yoga, all with a smile on their face". For more information, check out her website and Facebook.