Print Edition: October 15, 2014
Finally, you can achieve inner peace and tranquility while dangling in the air. We all know how relaxing and soothing a hammock can be, so why is it only in the last seven years that yoga — a 5,000-year-old practice — and hammocks have merged?
This exciting exercise routine called antigravity yoga first became popular in America and is now gaining claim in Canada and the UK. It involves the use of a silk hammock that’s suspended two to three feet from the ground, in which you do yoga poses. The nine-foot-long fabric cocoons your entire body to form your own peaceful pod that you can hang, lie, and stretch in.
This fairly new trend was developed by Christopher Harrison, a gymnast who now teaches classes in New York. According to the Daily Mail, even the creator “struggled with yoga poses on the ground because of wrist problems but found his practice much more successful in the air.”
“Using the hammock wasn’t challenging on my wrists,” he said. “I put one in my house, and me and my friends would find ourselves hanging around in it.”
Antigravity yoga, sometimes called aerial yoga, is different from regular yoga because it combines gymnastics, dance, Pilates, and acrobatics “into a hybrid mind-body workout,” says HowStuffWorks.com. And don’t think that you have to be some advanced yogi or gymnast; in reality, “when it comes to your fitness level, there are no restrictions for AntiGravity Yoga. Even if you’ve never taken a yoga class in your life, you’ll be amazed at how much you can do,” touts BestHealth.
Aerial yoga instructors are raving about how this method offers many benefits that traditional yoga may not include. Because your muscles aren’t tensed on the floor, aerial yoga is great for decompressing and lengthening the spine as well as the core muscles. In fact, “anyone that has back issues should be doing this class,” Bill Davis, a group fitness director in Ontario, told BestHealth. Even Harrison’s mother, who found exercise challenging because of back problems, was successful at antigravity yoga.
This playful new practice also increases flexibility faster than earth-bound yoga. The silky-smooth fabric is designed to maintain proper body alignment while in poses, so you’re able to get deeper in the stretch with less strain and muscle tightness.
Some take on yoga as a means to increase mind-body awareness. The hammock “closes you off from everything around you and [you] have awareness of mind, body, and spirit,” Harrison told the Daily Mail. With the hammock being so encapsulating, it’s easier to venture inward and really observe your inner self and achieve inner peace and relaxation.
This new form of yoga is getting celebrity attention, too. According to the Daily Mail, even Gwyneth Paltrow says “the moves felt constructive without feeling like a chore” compared to other yoga classes.
Antigravity yoga has many great benefits, and is easy enough for yoga novices and for people of all ages. Harrison believes that this practice refreshes the body’s systems and helps blood flow — and it seems just plain fun to swing, do flips, and hang upside-down in the air, while simultaneously getting a fantastic whole-body workout.