If you’re a yoga enthusiast like I am, you’ve probably heard or seen the buzz about a new[ish] way to practice called aerial yoga. After seven years dedicated to Vinyasa, I decided to give it a try and book my first Unnata aerial yoga class so I could share my beginner’s experience and let you know if it’s worth it!
Although aerial yoga evolved in the early 2000s and doesn’t appear to have the history of many forms of yoga, it has really taken flight because of its low-impact, restorative nature. The moment I experienced this fun and therapeutic style of yoga, my practice was turned upside down—both literally and figuratively. Hanging upside down from a silk hammock not only altered my perspective, but allowed me to release tension to a greater degree than my traditional practice has ever allowed.
Depending on the class, aerial yoga can focus heavily on inversion asanas, or postures where your head is below your heart, in addition to seated, standing, and balancing poses. In traditional yoga, an inversion posture usually means your hands become your feet and your feet may be off the ground—however, you still have to support the weight of your body, putting added pressure on the neck and back, that makes relaxation more difficult. Aerial yoga is unique in this way because your body weight is supported by the silk hammock, so your focus can turn to relaxing and releasing tense muscles.
The aerial yoga class I attended was gentle, much like you would experience in a restorative or Yin style yoga class. The postures were all about releasing tension, allowing the body to align naturally, and then strengthening and stabilizing muscles, all while using a silk hammock suspended from the ceiling. Admittedly, the silks can be a little uncomfortable when placed on your hips or lower back the first go-around, but I was assured that with practice the body becomes used to these sensations and additional padding from a towel or blanket is no longer necessary.
With the right instruction and preparation, aerial yoga classes can be attended by yogis of any skill level. It definitely helps to be familiar with basic yoga postures though, as these serve as the foundation for aerial yoga poses. It’s not uncommon for aerial yoga classes to require a pre-requisite workshop to ensure this understanding and other precautions are in place. Just like any class, talk with the instructor in advance about any injuries or ailments that may limit your ability to move into a posture, as well as areas where you hold particular tension.
I, like many individuals who sit at a desk for most of the day, hold tension in my upper back, shoulders, and neck. Aerial yoga helps to release this tension by increasing blood flow and lengthening the spine. You can also experience increased flexibility, a stronger core, and stress relief from adopting a regular aerial yoga practice. If the idea of taking your yoga practice to new heights interests you, I highly recommend giving aerial yoga a try!
Thanks to Tula Yoga & Wellness in Saint Paul, Minnesota for providing an excellent first experience.