Published on May 8, 2013 | by Nina Reschovsky0
The new thing: Aerial yoga
Arts London News reporter Nina Reschovsky goes up in the air with the latest exercise trend.My body is airborne, dangling upside down from the ceiling, supported by a mere piece of fabric. I kind of feel like I’m flying, but also a bit like I’m going to throw up.
Welcome to aerial yoga.
I’m 15 minutes into my first hour-and-a-half class at Aerial Yoga London, a tiny studio located in London’s Mile End.
We’ve just come out of the Superman pose, in which the hammock-like fabric is positioned just under my hips, my legs are stretched straight in the air behind me, my arms are spread out to either side, and my body is in a firm plank position.
I’m told we’re going into the ‘Supta Baddha Konsana’ pose, or the ‘hanging bound angle pose’. Fellow yogi and ALN reporter Kyla and I exchange wary looks.
Next thing I know I’m flipped upside down, palms on the ground, legs straight up in the air, wrapped around the outsides of the fabric. Despite the dizzying feel of blood rushing to my head, the intense stretch in my thighs feels pretty good.
According to Yvonne, one of the two instructors leading the three-person class, one of the main benefits of aerial yoga is the deeper stretch that the gravity and the support from the fabric allow you to achieve. With less pressure on the hands, neck, shoulders and joints than in traditional yoga, participants are able to perform more advanced poses and stretch further.
“Aerial yoga is a softer, more pleasurable form of yoga,” said Richard Holroyd, owner of the studio. “It’s non-dogmatic, beautifully creative and the first truly feminine style of yoga. It’s nurturing, playful, creative and liberated. I see it being mainly developed by women, for women.”
Aerial yoga is a fusion of yoga, pilates, acrobatics, gymnastics and dance in a practice that incorporates a flying trapeze-like fabric, allowing students to flow freely from pose to pose. It has a sort of ‘Cirque de Soleil’ feel to it, and gives me the impression that I’m far more flexible than I am.
Next, Kyla and I are guided into a ‘partner pose’. Similar to the Superman pose, the fabric is under our hips and our legs are in the air, intertwined with the fabric. This time, however, our arms are outstretched and crossed in front of us and we’re holding hands. We take turns flipping each other onto our stomachs and back by leveraging our bodies against each other.
Richard tells me that after opening last year, Aerial Yoga London is doing extremely well. He says that the practice is particularly effective for the less svelte among us. Some take it up to lose weight; some to strengthen joints and increase flexibility; others to just restore muscles and relax.
The class ends with a “relaxation” phase.
Soothing music is turned on and a pillow is placed on my stomach and another one over my eyes. Yvonne gives my swing a gentle push, and I lie there, rocking slowly back and forth, in a soothing motion the nearly lulls me to sleep.
Ten minutes later and the class is over. Not wanting to leave my cocoon, I continue to lie in it for a while, unable to work up the energy to move. I feel incredibly relaxed and loose – and also a bit drugged.
Needless to say, while I enjoyed the intensified stretch and the novelty of hanging, Kyla and I agreed that aerial yoga was a bit of a gimmick and for a more stringent workout, we’d still turn to traditional yoga.