Aerial yoga is the latest yoga trend to hit the block, winning over fans like actress Gwyneth Paltrow and singer Mariah Carey, who swear by its benefits. But, what is aerial yoga after all? Simply put, aerial yoga can be summed up as “yoga in mid-air”.

What Is Aerial Yoga?

Aerial yoga makes use of a soft trapeze to suspend your body a few inches above the ground, while you perform the yoga movements in this trapeze. Imagine a hammock holding you off the ground by your midriff, and you performing the asanas or yoga poses in this manner.

The principle behind aerial yoga is to give your body a better workout by counteracting the pull of gravity. Working against gravity helps to reduce the pressure on your bones and muscles caused by sitting on the floor, and this in turn provides greater flexibility. Staying a few inches off the ground also helps to reduce pressure on your body, resulting in straighter shoulders and a longer and leaner spine.

What Does Aerial Yoga Involve?

While the particular poses differ from instructor to instructor and from program to program, in general aerial yoga combines the basics of yoga with calisthenics, dance, Pilates and aerial acrobatics. This allows you to enjoy the spiritual benefits of yoga along with the physical benefits of exercise, while having fun at the same time.

Benefits Of Aerial Yoga

Gwyneth Paltrow finds that aerial yoga is “just as constructive as traditional yoga, without feeling like a chore”. Her yoga instructor and founder of Anti-gravity Yoga, Christopher Harrison has found that the feeling of being suspended in mid-air gives his clients a sense of “flying like a bird that is unburdened with responsibilities”. This helps them to “let go” of their worries and truly relax. After swinging around for an hour, it’s hard not to leave the class without having had a good time. So, it is hardly surprising that you would get hooked.

Aerial yoga also helps practitioners face their fears of the unknown. When trying out this form of yoga for the first time, you may feel afraid when your feet are not firmly planted on the ground. But as you start getting into the flow, you will slowly learn to put this fear behind you. A special form of aerial yoga, known as Unnata yoga, has been specially designed to help beginners overcome their fear of heights. Unnata yoga starts out with floor exercises and gradually moves towards the trapeze.

The benefits of aerial yoga extend far beyond mental relaxation. Christopher Harrison describes how aerial yoga helped him to sort out the kinks in his back caused during his career as an acrobat. He also describes how his mother, who was previously unable to attempt any form of exercise due to chronic back pain, was able to enjoy aerial yoga without any major discomfort.

Some Things To Keep In Mind

With all the flips and inversions involved, aerial yoga is not recommended for menstruating or pregnant women.  You would also be well advised to consult your doctor before trying it out if you suffer from vertigo or severe sinusitis, or if you have recently had eye surgery.

In terms of fitness levels, there are generally no restrictions when it comes to aerial yoga. Even if you have never tried out yoga before, you should give it a try. Christopher Harrison notes that his classes consist of people of all ages and fitness levels, with mothers and daughters swinging together on adjacent hammocks, bonding in the process.

So go on, try a new way to lose weight and have fun while you’re at it. Don’t forget to talk to your doctor first. Have a safe joyride!