A Look Inside the Aerial AntiGravity Yoga Trend

Students BackBend in AntiGravity Yoga Class
AntiGravity Yoga Class. RyanJLane/E+/Getty Images

AntiGravity Yoga is the leading proprietorial method in the aerial yoga trend. Developed by former gymnast and dancer Christopher Harrison, AntiGravity Yoga provides a workout that allows you to stretch and strengthen without over-stressing your joints or compressing your vertebrae.

The key to AntiGravity Yoga is the hammock, a swath of silky fabric that acts as your support system. Using the hammock, you learn to invert and hang suspended in the air. The hammock supports your hips for forward bends and backbends. It acts as your seat for any number of variations on the ab-tastic crunch. It can be looped around one foot as you stand on the other for versions of standing big toe pose and king dancer, applications that are reminiscent of an Iyengar-style ropes wall. Best of all, the hammock wraps you in your own little cocoon for a gently swaying savasana.

But Is It Yoga?

The definition of yoga can be as wide or as narrow as you like. AntiGravity Yoga moves are derived from Pilates, dance, and calisthenics in addition to yoga. It is said to be excellent for beginners who, without the added support of the hammock may find many of the poses (such as Warrior II) challenging to hold. Antigravity yoga has also been said to relieve back pain just like in a traditional yoga class by using the hammock to create traction along the vertebrae of the spine thus reducing tension and even inflammation.

The strength and flexibility that you get from yoga help you do the AntiGravity poses, and, likewise, the AntiGravity poses offer a new way to cultivate strength and flexibility.

Potential Benefits

You may enjoy certain benefits when participating in Anti-Gravity Yoga. In addition to enjoying the low impact workout, it may also:

  • Boost serotonin levels
  • Build core strength
  • Increase strength and flexibility
  • Improve blood circulation
  • Reduce back pain

Tips and Observations

  • It is usually advised that you practice yoga on an empty stomach, and that is especially true of AntiGravity Yoga, what with the inverting, spinning, and pressure of the hammock on your abdomen.
  • Long pants and a shirt with sleeves are must-haves since the hammock can dig into your arms and legs under the weight of your body.
  • You may have sore hands after the class due to constantly gripping the hammock.
  • Those with certain medical conditions, such as glaucoma and high blood pressure, are advised not to undertake this practice, so be sure to check your medical history.
  • As with any yoga practice, coming prepared with a sense of humor and a willingness to try new things goes a long way toward making an AntiGravity Yoga class a fun and relaxed experience.
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