If you’ve ever marveled at the beauty and grace of aerial performers such as in Cirque du Soleil, you may be interested to know that you, too, could learn to swing and pose effortlessly from a silk hammock. Even better, it’s an accessible workout trend that’s on the rise. Intrigued? If so, consider taking up AntiGravity Yoga.
A Brief Introduction
AntiGravity Yoga is an exercise that mixes yoga with pilates and dance. Traditional yoga poses are done with a suspended silk hammock that supports some or all of the practitioner’s body weight throughout the class. It is sometimes referred to as aerial yoga.
History of the AntiGravity Yoga Movement
For centuries, yogis practiced forms of yoga using props, including trees to perform inversions. However, these practices did not gain popularity. As such, the newer practice of AntiGravity yoga is still finding its footing. AntiGravity yoga evolved from a larger AntiGravity Fitness movement started by Christopher Harrison, which involves more gymnastics and dance. Harrison, an aerial performer and gymnast, adapted his exercise into a modern form of yoga in 2014.
Comparison to Traditional Yoga
Though it mixes the low-impact nature of Pilates and the grace of dance, AntiGravity Yoga is – at its core – still yoga. This means you can still expect the same mind-body benefits you receive with any yoga practice. AntiGravity Yoga typically begins with sun salutations, though it soon incorporates the hammock to allow for more inverted poses and hip/back support as the class progresses.
You can still enjoy common poses such as downward dog and cat-cow, but the hammock allows you to try new poses, too. A favorite among many students is awesome-possum, which is an inverted pose using the hammock.
Antigravity instructors often advise students that there are two key ingredients in preparing for AntiGravity Yoga:
1. Check your expectations at the door
2. Trust the hammock
How to Start
AntiGravity yoga is best done with a licensed instructor and professional equipment to ensure safety.
You’ll begin by selecting a hammock, which will be suspended from the ceiling with mountain climbing-grade equipment that can support up to 2,000 pounds.
Listen to the instructor, watch as she poses with the hammock, and listen to your body. Often, if a pose seems too difficult for you, the instructor will offer a secondary, low-impact option.
Four Special Benefits of AntiGravity Yoga
AntiGravity Yoga offers many of the same benefits as more traditional yoga practices, including increased strength and flexibility. However, there are four additional benefits:
- Full-body exercise that allows you to engage more muscles at once than yoga on a mat
- Assistance with spinal decompression and chronic back pain
- Increased core strength
- Ability to perform poses that aren’t possible on the ground
A Close Cousin – Suspension Yoga
As AntiGravity Yoga continues to evolve, a popular variation has emerged. Suspension yoga involves a silk hammock, but with the addition of a set of handles to allow for more versatility and support in posing. It is considered more challenging than AntiGravity Yoga.
If you’re looking for a fun, unique workout with many physical benefits, consider suspending your typical workout in favor of a suspended one instead.