7 Things You Should Know Before Your First Aerial Yoga Class
If you’re feeling ready to take your yoga practice to new heights, it might be time to give aerial yoga a try. Speciality studios across the globe offer this anti-gravity experience with hammock-style yoga swings hanging from ceiling rafters. Each one includes several straps for your hands and feet to help you find each asana mid-air that you’d normally form on the floor. Already sound intimidating? Fear not — know these seven things before your first aerial class, and you’ll be flying high in no time.
1. You’re going to spend a lot of time upside down.
Yes, a lot of postures used in aerial yoga are inversions. And while they can help you view the world from a new perspective (literally) and work wonders for your blood circulation, there are a few things to be mindful of here. First, you want to eat a small, light meal about an hour before class so spending time upside down won’t make you dizzy and won’t make you feel like you’re going to throw up. Second, remember to breathe normally. Sometimes, when we find ourselves in foreign positions, we instinctually hold our breath as we try to gain a sense of control in the situation. And third, know that it’s okay to reorient yourself in an upright position if your discomfort feels too intense. You can always return to the inversion posture when you’re ready.
2. You’re going to hold poses for longer periods of time.
Aerial yoga is typically not a flowing class, meaning you’ll make your way into certain postures and remain in them for quite some time. It’s important to wear fitted clothing so that you don’t find yourself constantly slipping or adjusting in these moments. Many also find full leggings and sleeved shirts more comfortable for when the swing’s fabric is pressing into your lower back or twisting around your arms and legs for minutes at a time. No matter what you wear, do your best to remain in the present moment and absorb how your body feels in the support of the swing from pose to pose.
3. You’re going to use smaller muscles throughout your body that are easily ignored on the ground.
Finding stability with the structure of the swing requires you to use a lot of the supporting muscles on the insides and outsides of your arms and legs, and the possibly weaker components of your core and spine. Lean into that challenge, because that’s the only way you’ll be able to grow stronger in these new ways. And you just might find that when your return to your floor-based yoga mat, your poses feel more grounded and secure than ever.
4. You’re going to learn to trust your body (and its abilities) in an entirely new way.
Even the slightest fear of heights, swinging or free-falling will be challenged in an aerial yoga class, and that’s one of the best benefits it offers. By spending 60 minutes suspended in the air by a sheet of fabric (albeit strong fabric), you are forced to confront your doubts and trust your body to do a good job of supporting you physically. And once that occurs, you find that you can open up a similar space of mental and emotional trust in yourself. Don’t hesitate to really sink into each pose and see how even the most minor of adjustments can change how you feel in the swing.
5. You’re going to truly understand what it’s like to feel weightless and free.
Approximately halfway through the class, you’ll probably feel warmed up and accustomed enough to really relax your body and enjoy how it feels to be away from the ground for an extended period time. Take advantage of this feeling and lean into any sense of playfulness that emerges from your body in the middle of class. You won’t mess up. You won’t do a pose wrong. But you will explore new spaces in imaginative ways and have a lot of fun doing so.
6. You’re going to experience exactly why everyone says that savasana is the best posture ever.
If you think savasana is amazing in a Vinyasa flow class, just wait until the end of your first aerial experience. Your instructor will guide you to lie down sideways in the hammock, butterfly your knees outward, press the bottoms of your feet together, and fold your arms over your torso so that one hand rests on your belly and the other rests on your heart. You’ll feel like you’re in this private little cocoon. Add the natural sway of the swing to the picture, and you’ll be so cozy and relaxed that you just might fall asleep. Talk about the epitome of security and comfort.
7. You’re going to leave class with a newfound sense of openness, clarity and creativity.
After spending so much time flipping upside down, stretching your body in new ways with the leverage the swing offers and challenging your mind to find comfort in the unknown, you will be the definition of open-minded. So take a moment to acknowledge this space you’ve created for yourself and appreciate the sense of clarity you feel. Sometimes all of those rushes of blood to the head provide a little extra creative stimulation, too. Talk about wins all around.