Going Vertical with Aerial Yoga

As the body ages, certain physical activities become a bit more difficult due to the ongoing battle against gravity. Fortunately, new techniques are emerging to relieve the stress on joints experienced during traditional floor workouts. Thanks to the use of silk hammocks, aerial yoga joins the ranks of these newly modified exercises.

aerial yoga featureBeing808 headed down to Still & Moving Center in Honolulu to meet some of the new aerial yoga instructors who are being trained. Instructors Wendi Lynch and Katie Fisher graciously climbed down from their hammocks to talk about the new twist on yoga.

Fisher, one of the resident instructors at the center, describes traditional yoga as working between the x and y planes – either moving horizontally or vertically. But with aerial yoga, you have access to the z axis, allowing movements in a range of 360 degrees.

Lynch, owner of Aerial Yoga Hawaii,  described it as working with a vertical yoga mat. Visualizing it that way allows you to do any of the traditional floor yoga movements in the air, while having the luxury of working with gravity rather than against it.

“It’s pouring down over you. You have zero compression on your joints.”

Both instructors said aerial yoga has numerous health benefits. Fisher says her students commonly mention pain relief in the neck and shoulders. Those effects are the result of inversion movements that help decompress the spine. Something going on under the skin is a form of soft tissue therapy known as myofascial release, where sheaths of muscle move off the bone to increase range of motion. Both also mentioned the workout increasing lymphatic drainage, which helps fight disease.

However, some medical conditions that may prevent you from participating include:

– any type of heart condition
– glaucoma
– fused spine
– high blood pressure

Whenever engaging in a new physical activity, it is recommended that you speak with a physician first.

One thing to be mindful of is the safety of the silk hammocks. Facilities such as Still & Moving Center install the hammocks to ensure they can hold a weight of at least 2,000 pounds. No jewelry is permitted while practicing aerial yoga, as sharp objects could cause a tear in the hammock. Wearing clothing that covers the body’s joints are recommended to prevent discomfort from the skin rubbing against the silk.

After gaining experience, you can move on to other aerial exercises such as practicing free hanging skills, as seen in Cirque du Soleil-type shows. But if you just want the solace of hanging in a silk pod, that’s fine, too. In either case, Fisher said you should never pass up an opportunity to straighten out your spine.

Still & Moving Center currently offers HMSA members a 10% discount on monthly unlimited class packages purchased after introductory offers have been applied.

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