Why limit your yoga practice to the floor? Here are just a few reasons you should elevate your asana.
1. Bring the passion back!
Every practice needs reinvigorating from time to time. We are often stuck in an asana rut; we practice our favorite poses over and over and attend the same classes until eventually we feel the need for something new. Aerial Yoga brings that fresh inspiration to your current practice.
Lifting asana off the ground will revolutionize those poses you’ve practiced for years. You will find refreshing ways to connect to traditional methods of alignment. Aerial Yoga will allow you to find the pelvic floor muscles and grasp how they relate to the stabilization of the entire body. You will gain perspective on how you react to uncommon postures.
Adding this dimension to your practice can lead to the ultimate experience of svadhyaya, self-study. Yoga is ultimately about finding the core of who you are and what better way to do that than in mid-air!
2. Improve your proprioception and balance.
While balance is responsible for our ability to stand steady, our proprioception is the body’s automatic sense of space and movement. Proprioception allows you to know where your head and limbs are in relation to the ground and other objects. Both senses of proprioception and balance can heighten with practice.
Aerial Yoga uses a silk hammock to support the weight of the body. The movement of the hammock causes the body to make micro adjustments constantly; your body refines its movements. Many of the traditional poses performed in the air require extra awareness of the head and limbs to keep the body balanced.
Students of Aerial Yoga report an increase in their ability to move fluidly through space and an improvement in other physical activities due to a heightened awareness of the body and an increase in strength.
3. Embrace natural movement.
The practice of Aerial Yoga engages your full body and requires acute attention and focus. Humans evolved in nature: navigating uneven terrain, running, crawling, and climbing rocks and trees. Aerial yoga combines traditional yoga training with our natural movement potential.
Many poses involve using hand grip and climbing movements, which requires the entire body. The ability to climb translates into strength and control in many of the more advanced traditional poses such as inversions, but also provides a sense of lightness in more basic poses like downward dog and plank. Your latisimus dorsi and serratus anterior will thank you.
4. Suspension is relaxation amplified.
One of the great benefits of yoga is the calming of the mind. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the relaxation response in the body. With suspended restorative work in Aerial Yoga the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated with gentle rocking. Humans are soothed by rocking because it reminds us of the sensations experienced in the womb.
These motions can lead to synchronization of the two hemispheres of the brain and has been found to increase theta brain waves, which are associated with deep meditation. There are numerous benefits to this relaxed state, such as a reduction of cortisol (the stress hormone), lower blood pressure and a stronger immune system.
5. Aerial Yoga is really fun!
Do you have fond memories of playing on the monkey bars and swings as a kid? This is even better! It turns out we can fly. Embrace adbhuta, the Sanskrit term for wonder. Staying amazed with life is one of the best forms of appreciation and devotion for your practice.
Trying new things can lead to a sense of wonder and amazement for your own potential and ability. Learning a new form of movement will encourage you to adjust, grow and identify possibilities both physically and mentally. Wonder keeps us young. Your practice can always use more laughter, curiosity, pleasure and new communities. Trying new things will increase your confidence. Not only will you have more faith in your ability to move your body through space but these positive thoughts will transfer over to a healthier, happier daily life.
Take flight! Seek out a qualified Aerial Yoga instructor and unleash the truth of your vastness.
Wendi Lynch is an E-RYT200, Unnata Aerial certified yoga instructor, and has been a devoted student of yoga since 2002. After falling in love with trapeze arts in 2008 she naturally gravitated to aerial yoga, training with Michelle Dortignac, founder of Unnata Aerial Yoga, in 2010. The de-compressive qualities of the practice led her to a fluidity and depth of practice she had not experienced before. Her teaching style is playful and athletic, encouraging and creative. Wendi’s teaching is strongly informed by her bodywork; she is a NCTMB and Hawaii state licensed massage therapist. Wendi is continually expanding her knowledge of the architecture of the body and how it relates to poses both on the floor and in the air. As the first certified Aerial Yoga instructor in the islands, Wendi developed the Aerial Yoga program at the Still and Moving Center in Honolulu. She founded Aerial Yoga Hawaii, teaches weekly classes on Kauai and monthly workshops and bi-annual teacher trainings on Oahu. You can find Wendi on Facebook and Twitter.