As this year rounds out, it’s time to begin thinking about new ways to both challenge and inspire ourselves in the New Year! Finding new ways to enhance our healthy lifestyles and wellbeing is always welcomed. For all my yoga-lovers out there, have you ever tried aerial yoga?? I tried my first aerial yoga class a few years back and absolutely loved it! It is a form of anti-gravity yoga where you literally perform a series of yoga poses suspended in the air on individual fabric hammocks…. pretty cool, huh?! It also brings many benefits such as relieving compression of the spine, improves strength, stability, flexibility, and the best part is its beginner friendly and open to all levels!
For some of you, this may sound right up your alley, and for others may sound a bit intimidating with the whole “yoga suspended in the air by a piece of fabric” lol. Rest assured, you have nothing to fear and everything to gain!
Here are 7 tips to know before heading into your first aerial yoga class:
1. Class Attire – It is very important to dress appropriately for class. With aerial yoga, you will be performing inversions and working thru different yoga postures within the hammock. Form fitted clothing of breathable and stretchable nature is ideal. I recommend wearing full length leggings and a top that covers partial or full arms so it is easy to move smoothly within the fabric of your hammock. Any loose fabric can potentially get you tangled up or flop over your face when upside down and obstruct your vision and movement.
2. Eat Appropriately Prior to Class – Be sure to eat a small light meal/snack approximately 1-2 hours before class consisting of balanced carbs, protein, and healthy fats. An empty stomach can cause dizziness and a full stomach can cause stomach upset and even vomiting when doing aerial yoga, so it is important to eat accordingly and feel your best heading into class. Try to avoid acidic foods/juices because they can cause heartburn and upset.
3. Warm Up and Prep– Allow enough time to arrive a bit early to get familiar with your surroundings, do a light warm up so you feel energized, and try to meet your instructor if possible. Introduce yourself and inform the instructor it is your first aerial yoga class. They will most likely walk you thru the process and inform you of some things to expect. This will help you feel more comfortable with your new instructor and the overall experience, putting your mind at ease before you begin.
4. Select Your Hammock Wisely – When selecting your individual hammock for class, try to choose one that’s more centrally located rather than towards the back or sides of the room. This way, there will be other class members on all sides of you for you to use as a visual references throughout the class. Be fully aware of your surroundings and use it to your advantage as you learn and follow along.
5. Breathe– Sometimes when people feel a bit nervous or uncomfortable trying something for the first time, they tend to forget to breathe properly. Stay calm and remember to breathe throughout class allowing proper airflow and oxygen to flow throughout your brain and entire body. Come with an open mind ready to conquer any fears you may have and excel in something new.
6. Prepare to be Upside Down – You will be moving thru various yoga positions while suspended in the air, and performing some of these in an inverted position will be part of your experience. Unlike in floor mat yoga, in aerial yoga you will have the unique opportunity to move freely thru the air with zero gravity and can rest assured that you have the comfort of knowing the hammock is firmly bracing you from falling! Performing inverted poses will not only lengthen and release tension in the spine, but also serves to massage your lymphatic system improving your immunity, blood flow, and circulation.
7. Keep a Steady Pace – Do not rush yourself. Try to relax and fully embrace each position and plan on holding your poses for longer periods of time. Strive to gain body awareness, new perspective, and clarity in each pose in order to maximize your class experience and reap greater rewards. You should leave class feeling both refreshed and renewed.
I hope you find a new found love in aerial yoga! Catch my monthly columns featured in WF and stay in touch. @taryntfrancis