Aerial skills used to be the domain of circus performers and acrobats. Contorting yourself in a silk hammock suspended from the ceiling seemed a world away from the introspective and mindful approach of yoga.

But the aerial and yoga worlds have united, and the combination is powerful!

So, What Exactly is Aerial Yoga?

Aerial yoga is a modern form of yoga which you practice using a silk hammock suspended from the ceiling.

The hammock can make postures more challenging, adding an element of strength training or balance. It can also provide support and therapeutic benefits.

What Does an Aerial Yoga Class Involve?

Each student usually has their own hammock. The aerial yoga instructor gives verbal instructions and might demonstrate a certain postures or transitions. A typical aerial yoga class could include:

  • A strengthening whole-body warm up, using the hammock for dynamic stretches and movements. They may incorporate joint mobilization and muscle activation exercises.
  • More energizing flows, combining sequences of postures with the support of the hammock.
  • Peak postures, such as inversions or more challenging poses. These will vary according to the level and style of the class.
  • More cooling, calming sequences or postures.
  • A delicious aerial take on savasana – one in which you unravel the silk of the hammock to form a cocoon around you.

Not convinced yet?

Here are 5 fantastic reasons to get yourself in a hammock:

1. It Builds Strength

Yes, we know, you’ve heard this all before. Yoga is great for core and upper body strength. (Learn more in Core Strengthening: Boost Your Abdominals with this 15-Minute Yoga Sequence.)

It can help you to feel super-charged and on top of the world.

But aerial yoga has the added bonus of helping you to build upper body “pull” strength. Yoga with its chaturangas, downward-facing dogs and handstands is great for building “press” strength.

Yet, the “pull” muscles – that is those you would use to perform a pull up - can be harder to access.

Not so in aerial yoga.

Aerial yoga provides many opportunities, to lift or “pull up” your own body weight, using the hammock for support. All in all, this means it provides a better-rounded workout.

2. It’s Amazing for Confidence

Like many of the more acrobatic appearing forms of yoga, there can be a definite fear factor to aerial yoga. The postures can look both impressive and scary. However, what surprises most people when they try aerial yoga is:

a) How helpful the hammock can be for support as well as adding challenge, and

b) How much they are capable of doing.

As with so many things, the main hurdle in aerial yoga is often the mental one.

Say for instance you’re afraid of going upside down, and thus have never attempted a headstand. The hammock provides an extra support structure.

This removes a layer of fear, as well as taking the pressure off vulnerable body parts such as the neck. Overcoming these fears and barriers gives your confidence a massive boost. (Learn more in Think Headstand Is Scary? 3 Tricks to Help Conquer Your Fears.)

3. It can be Brilliantly Therapeutic

Aerial yoga is not all upside-down thrill rides. One of the well-reported benefits of aerial yoga is its potential to restore and soothe the body and mind.

In particular, sufferers of lower back pain may find that being in the hammock has a decompressing effect. This can provide welcome relief from discomfort.

Many find they also have more freedom of movement in the hammock, allowing them to stretch into tight spots and unravel tension. Simply moving in a new way can help you to break free of habitual holding patterns in the body.

On a mental level, aerial yoga demands focus and attention. It leaves you no choice but to throw off your everyday worries and distractions.

4. It’s playful and fun.

There’s a reason why children love playing on swings so much. Being suspended in the air, even moving in the air is liberating and magical. Adulthood tends to make us forget these simple pleasures, but aerial yoga can bring this one back. (Learn more in Creating Freedom Through Playfulness and Creativity.)

There’s something very special about being lifted into the air, purely for the joy of moving.

Not only that, but the unique and somewhat unpredictable nature of aerial yoga lends itself to a lighter, more playful approach. As you attempt some of the more challenging postures, if you’re not cracking a smile, you’re taking it too seriously.

5. Relaxation at the end is guaranteed.

Whatever the thrills and (hopefully not) spills of the aerial yoga session, chances are you’ll finish it feeling you’ve challenged yourself, strengthened your body and focused your mind.

All that’s left to do is relax and let yourself soak up the benefits.

There’s no better way to do that than by cozying up in your suspended silk cocoon, surrendering completely to gravity. If you’re really lucky, the teacher may even set your hammock to gently rock you into a yogic slumber. Utter bliss.

Convinced?

Great stuff. There’s so much to gain from an aerial yoga class!

If it’s your first time, seek teacher recommendations and make sure the class is suitable for beginners.

Enjoy it, and be warned – once you’ve had a taste of airtime, you’ll find coming back down to earth quite the challenge!