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Aerial yoga: what is it?

The practice of yoga is considered one of the best ways to stay fit and relieve stress. Like traditional yoga, Aerial yoga, also known as anti-gravity yoga, is excellent for both body and mind. What makes it special is that it is practised suspended in a silk hammock. It's a playful, artistic discipline that combines yoga and acrobatics. In addition to being fun and providing numerous physical and mental benefits, aerial yoga is a highly accessible practice with therapeutic virtues.

Why practice aerial yoga?

Aerial yoga combines traditional asanas (the physical postures of yoga) with aerial arts. In an aerial yoga class, you perform the same postures as on a yoga mat, but suspended from the ceiling in a silk hammock. This accessory is designed to support you during the various posture sequences. Aerial yoga helps you improve your flexibility and develop your strength. In fact, being suspended makes it easier to reach the postures and open the body gently and consciously. The support provided by the fabric allows students to access new movements and do more difficult postures without adding pressure on wrists, knees, shoulders, spine or head.

The origins of aerial yoga

The practice of yoga with props is widely attributed to B.K.S. Iyengar, the founder of Iyengar yoga, a yoga practice based on body alignment work. As well as using blocks, straps and blankets, Iyengar suspended his students from the ceiling in yoga swings. The original swings were not like the silk hammocks we find today. They were often made of rope and padded with yoga mats or blankets. Anti-gravity yoga, as it was originally called, began to gain ground in the late 1990s. Yoga hammocks and aerial yoga began to appear in the USA in the 2000s. Today, the practice has been democratized. Aerial yoga studios and trained teachers can now be found all over the world.

The Benefits of Aerial Yoga

Aerial yoga offers many physical and psychological benefits.

Improving strength and flexibility

Aerial yoga will help you stretch safely and gain amplitude in your movements. Being suspended in the air gives you more room to move. As a result, you'll be able to perform yoga postures that you can't usually do on the ground. Aerial yoga works on flexibility, stability and balance. It will also help you develop upper-body strength, as holding the hammock calls for engagement in the arms, shoulders and abdominals.

Decompress joints

Although anyone can benefit from Aerial yoga classes, they are particularly suitable for back pain sufferers. With the help of the hammock, aerial yoga helps to decompress joints, which can sag over time due to gravity and age. Aerial yoga exerts little pressure on the joints and does not strain the spine. It therefore provides a complete body workout without any discomfort. For people suffering from chronic back pain or tension in the shoulders and neck, aerial yoga can help improve joint mobility.

Deep breathing

Controlled breathing is an important aspect of yoga. Aerial yoga allows you to breathe deeply without restriction. Thanks to the support of the hammock, you can relax completely and comfortably hold each posture while breathing. Over time, you can even improve your lung capacity.

Relieve stress

If you're particularly tense and stressed, Aerial yoga can help. With the support of a hammock, you can more easily let go mentally and physically. Like traditional yoga, aerial yoga is meditation in movement. Its practice helps to clear the mind. With aerial yoga, you can also explore inversions in complete serenity. In yoga, inversions (postures where the head is below the heart) can be difficult to achieve. With the hammock, it's easier to take a posture upside down without putting pressure on the head, neck or spine. When you're in an inversion, blood rushes to your brain to supply it with the oxygen it needs. Practicing inversions gives you more energy and better concentration.

Reducing the risk of heart disease

Aerial yoga is a moderate-intensity physical practice. It helps you burn calories by requiring constant physical engagement in both postures and transitions. In a 50-minute aerial yoga session, you can burn over 300 calories. With regular practice, the risk of cardiovascular disease is significantly reduced.

What can I expect from my first aerial yoga class?

You don't need to have any previous yoga knowledge to practice aerial yoga. If you already have some yoga experience, you'll still need to start with a beginner-level aerial yoga class. This will enable you to familiarize yourself with the movements and the material before attempting more complex sequences. Note that you may feel slightly dizzy at first if you're not used to hanging upside down. Always inform your instructor if you have any particular health problems. If you have acute or chronic medical conditions, it's advisable to start with a private class with teachers trained in therapeutic Aerial yoga.

Beyond its playfulness, aerial yoga is much more than an acrobatic discipline. It's a therapeutic and restorative practice, accessible to everyone. Aerial yoga is an excellent option for beginners and experienced yoga practitioners alike. Go for it!

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