If you’ve dismissed airborne yoga as a gimmicky trend meant only to generate jaw-dropping Insta-perfect clicks, think again. There is a reason why a growing number of celebrities and fitness enthusiasts across the globe are taking to the gravity-defying workout. Taking fitness to new heights, literally, is aerial yoga, which provides the benefits of yoga, Pilates and dance, all in one!
Aerial yoga is said to release hormones like serotonin, endorphins, oxytocin and dopamine, boost your mood and make you feel energetic. And those who practice it couldn’t agree more. “I am above 50 years. I was fascinated but doubtful about joining aerial yoga. I pushed myself and it has helped me immensely, ”says Manju Gupta, a government employee who has been doing aerial yoga for more than a year.
For 25-year-old Neetika Singh, aerial yoga is an outlet to express her feelings. “It gives you a lot of strength, both mental and physical. I used to find (regular) yoga very boring, but this one attracts me. It connects me with myself. It feels like, its awakens each body part, and there is a lot of focus on the spine, ”she says.
Aerial yoga uses a hammock or yoga swing that is suspended from the ceiling, rather than a mat. “The hammock is generally made of soft fabric and it aids in enhancing mobility as well as flexibility,” informs Tarandeep Kaur, an aerial yoga instructor.
The credit for aerial yoga largely goes to late Yogacharya BKS Iyengar, who developed Iyengar yoga with props. The yoga instructor would ask his students to hang from the ceiling in yoga swings padded with yoga mats and blankets. The original swings were not like the colorful silk hammocks we see today.
“The difference between aerial yoga and other forms of yoga is how you do the poses. Rather than performing the yoga poses on a floor mat, aerial yoga utilises a silk hammock or sling in doing the very same movements, ”says Kaur.
The hammock also takes pressure off certain areas of the body, like the head and shoulders, allowing easier performance of high stress poses like headstand. “Aerial yoga helps with both physical and mental health of the practitioner,” notes Dr Lovleena Nadir, a gynecologist who has been practicing aerial yoga for many years now.
Research suggests that the practice of aerial yoga stimulates the production of certain neurotransmitters. “These chemicals reduce the symptoms of mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression, while increasing overall happiness and well-being,” adds Nadir.
While aerial yoga does not warrant any specific dietary changes, it is wise to stay hydrated, eat green leafy vegetables, fruits, vegetables with higher water content and nuts. But, do not exercise on a full stomach. Consume adequate, nutritious meals and sleep enough to permit proper muscle recovery after yoga.
It helps gradually increase the flexibility of the body, thus improving the range of movements. Muscle strength also gets better.
It helps increase the core strength of the body.
It tones up the circulation, thus helping improve the cardiovascular system.
It helps relieve pressure on the spine, which is often the consequence of erect posture all day long.
It helps with fat loss and muscle building, as a lot of muscles are used simultaneously. One can easily burn up to 400 Kcal in a 45-minute session.
Aerial yoga combines the benefits of cardio with weight training, effortlessly.
It is a low impact exercise for the joints, because it has virtually no impact during performance.
Who cannot undertake aerial yoga?
Aerial yoga cab be a potentially dangerous activity, if done without proper supervision.
Avoid aerial yoga if you have heart disease, extremely high or low blood pressure, glaucoma or severe arthritis.
Hanging upside down may precipitate dizziness.
Aerial yoga is not recommended while pregnant and after surgery.
Overuse injuries of the shoulders and back, muscle pull, bruises and fabric burns may happen sometimes.
Warm ups are a must. Practice without a warm up significantly increases the risk of injury, especially in the beginners.