Sure, goat yoga is Instagrammable and quirky, but there’s something beautiful and transformative about hanging in the sky, nestled in silk, like a butterfly emerging from your cocoon. Enter aerial yoga.
Along with providing many physical and mental benefits and fun acrobatics, aerial yoga is rapidly gaining momentum as a therapeutic and accessible yoga option.
Aerial yoga combines traditional asanas (the physical postures of yoga) and philosophies of yoga with the aerial arts. Silk fabrics and/or ropes are hung from above to help practitioners form shapes.
You can be fully supported by the bristles – even fully lying down, like in a hammock – or wrap the bristles around certain parts of the body, keeping other parts off the floor.
It is believed that hanging completely or hanging individual body parts creates traction and opens your body more gently and intuitively than when you are on the ground. Silks and strings can also be helpful for balance.
While many aerial yoga classes have an acrobatic element, a growing number of classes and teachers are also using aerial silks in a much more therapeutic way.
Jo Stewart, co-owner of Yoga Garden, a Melbourne-based studio offering a wide range of aerial yoga classes, is a big proponent of using aerial silks in a more therapeutic way.
As she says, “the versatility and support of the fabric allows people to access new movements. It can also reduce the load on the wrists and knees, which can sometimes limit mobility in a floor practice.
For people with knee problems, getting to the ground can be difficult. But, says Stewart, “the aerial silk basically brings them the ground.”
The history of aerial yoga
The practice of yoga with props is widely attributed to BKS Iyengar (1918-2014), who developed the Iyengar type of yoga.
In addition to using the blocks, straps, blankets, and rope walls you see in many studios, Iyengar suspended his students from the ceiling in yoga swings (1).
The original swings weren’t like the colorful silk hammocks we see today. They were often made of rope only and were padded with yoga mats or blankets.
Anti-gravity yoga, as it was originally called, began to gain traction in the late 1990s. The first yoga swing, a collection of silk slings connected to hand grips and body holds foot, would have been created in the United Kingdom in 2001 (1).
The yoga hammock – which is a long piece of cloth – and the style name “aerial yoga” started appearing around 2011. Today, aerial yoga studios and trained aerial yoga teachers can be found around the world. whole.
Aerial yoga combines aerial arts with yogic philosophy and postures.
A combination of arts and athletics, aerial yoga offers several physical and psychological benefits:
- Improved flexibility, stability and balance. A 2019 study observed that aerial athletes have exceptional flexibility, balance, and strength (
- Reduction of risk factors for heart disease. Although research on this style of yoga is limited, the most cited study, conducted in 2016 by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), found a significant reduction in risk factors associated with cardiovascular heart disease (3).
- Low to moderate intensity. The same ACE-commissioned study found that 50 minutes of aerial yoga can burn more than 300 calories, making it a low-to-moderate intensity form of exercise (3).
- Improved mental health. A small study noted significant improvements in depression and stress levels when people practiced the aerial arts for love of movement. This seems particularly auspicious for aerial yoga, which applies yogic philosophies and is often less competitive and more accessible than a circus-based or formal acrobatics class (4).
Believe it or not, yes – and without having to renovate your entire living room.
Lori Salomon has been teaching aerial yoga play for over 6 years in the Bay Area. In addition to teaching in the studio, she receives several private clients for home sessions.
She finds that, when needed, the overall experience tends to be less intimidating when people learn one-on-one.
Some swings or ropes can be attached to a metal frame, allowing you to fly indoors or outdoors.
You can also rig your silks or ropes around sturdy support beams, such as tree branches or exposed porch beams, the same way you traditionally hang a hammock.
Some aerial veterans have ropes and/or aerial silks installed directly into their ceilings. Solomon’s living room is his “playground”, with three different types of yoga swings.
Always be sure to double-check your setups before flying, as props can loosen over time.
You can absolutely do aerial yoga at home! However, this can take a bit of creativity.
If you’re attending an aerial class at a studio, especially if the studio is aerial-focused, you really only need your body.
It is recommended that you wear well-fitting sportswear with decent coverage as the strings and silks can rub against your skin. The less obstruction and direct skin contact, the better. Some classes offer towels to help with cushioning, but you can always bring your own as well.
If you prefer to fly at home, here are some suggested links to find the best air craft for you. Please note that some of these are sold separately from their ceiling hooks, brackets and brackets:
- Gravotonics yoga swing. Created in 2003 and often cited as the first of its kind, this all-in-one swing claims to be one of the most versatile and accessible options on the market.
- Yoga Trapeze by Yoga Body. These features are not unlike yoga swings, but Yoga Body has trademarked the term “yoga trapeze”.
- Uplifting yoga. This site offers a wide variety of aerial yoga equipment, including yoga hammocks, silks (individual strips of fabric), hoops, and rubber bands.
- AYRX yoga swing. Salomon jokes that these swings, developed by the founder of Aerial Yoga Play Jen Healy, are like the Tesla of yoga swings. You can purchase individual swings or the Deluxe Package, which includes accessories such as leg loops and carabiners. The AYP site also offers online training in the method.
You can fly at home or in the studio, but wherever you choose to play, wear well-fitting clothing that covers your body to prevent chafing!
Google is your best friend for finding nearby yoga classes. Simply enter “aerial yoga near me” or “aerial yoga therapies near me” in the search box.
Also be sure to ask your local yoga studios if they offer aerial classes or if they know of instructors who can teach the style privately. Many local studios offer one-off classes or specialized workshops.
If you can’t find an aerial studio nearby, some local studios offer specialized aerial yoga classes or workshops. Be sure to get your doctor’s approval before trying any class.
Stewart says to expect lots of laughs and be prepared to surprise yourself.
Prior yoga knowledge is not required.
Stewart suggests that even those with some yoga experience start with a beginner-level aerial yoga class or a more restorative-style class. This allows people to familiarize themselves with the movement with the fabric before attempting more complex sequences.
It’s not uncommon to get a little motion sickness from the movement in your first class, especially when coming back to your feet after being hung upside down.
Be sure to let your teacher know if you have any underlying health conditions. Stewart suggests looking for one-to-one classes or trained teachers in more therapeutic-style aerial yoga if you’re managing acute or chronic medical conditions.
Expect laughs, surprises and maybe some dizziness.
- Listen to your body. If something is wrong, take a break or ask for help.
- Communicate. Rope and sling placement can be key during this practice, but only you know what something feels like. If something is painful or uncomfortable, ask your teacher to help you find the perfect placement.
- Take it easy. Salomon reminds students that “a little goes a long way” in aerial yoga and to start slow as you get used to the style.
- Confidence. Trust the machine, trust your teacher, but above all, trust yourself.
- Enjoy. Some forms may seem out of reach at first, especially if you are new to yoga. You might get tangled and lost, but if you remember you’re there to have fun, none of that will matter!
Many styles of yoga are available these days, each with their own unique benefits. Aerial yoga isn’t just fun for those who are more acrobatic – with therapeutic and restorative style classes, it can also be incredibly accessible.