Aug 30, 2016 10:54PM
by Nahla Tebcherany and Jessica SnowDuring an asana in your favorite yoga class, have you ever wondered how much deeper you could go, if your feet could stack differently, or your hips could open more gracefully, or even your shoulders reach back more freely? Gravity plays such a big role in our asana practice, but when our body structure does not want to play with gravity fairly and openly, improvisation is key. Aerial yoga accepts all body types, all spirits and all types of practices and their levels. Bring your inner child to the aerial playground and let the silks carry your joints, muscles, bones and heart for a change.
Consider how the world surrounding us consists of props that assist us in a variety of postures. In class, we use bars to find our splits and stretch our legs, straps that allow us to hang and extend around our shoulders, or blocks that help improve our balance and strengthen our core. In nature you could find these same props in the trees and rocks around you, and you will find a similar approach in supporting your body on a silk hammock—learning how far into your warrior two your body can reach by letting your hips glide forward in full support, or creating a strong posture with stacked alignment by surrendering your weight into a rope of fabric.
You can even experience the sensation of an inversion with the ease of surrender, allowing your brain and body to make new memory connections so that your mat experience can revel from more movements to play with. Beginners to yoga will find themselves perfectly paced in the practice. Once your body is trustingly hugged by these silks, gravity takes on the work, and you get to relax and surrender.
Within all of the surrender, there is some powerful work to be had in the silks as well. While the hips and shoulders open and the spine lengthens, the muscles of the core tighten and tone. Connective tissue release allows for trauma to melt out of the body on a physical and emotional level.
Recent studies by the American Council on Exercise show that after a single aerial yoga class, practitioners already show a dramatically increased oxygen uptake, which helps to focus the mind and reduce anxiety. After six weeks of consistent practice, they noted “significant improvements in the following cardio metabolic risk factors: weight, body-fat percentage, waist circumference, VO2max, systolic blood pressure and HDL cholesterol.” The dynamic intensity of a basic aerial yoga class falls in the middle of the spectrum, somewhere between a lengthy three-mile-per-hour walk and two Zumba Gold classes.
There is no need to worry about where your level of practice is, or what size yoga pants you wear, or even if you’ve ever set foot on a mat before. With silks that hold up to 1000 pounds, aerial yoga honors your tight hamstrings and holds you right where you need to be. Those silk hammocks are willing to give you the tough love your joints have longed for, and can customize the space for your body in exchange for your surrender and trust.
So, find a spot in the air and feel what it is like to have your body truly fly to the next level. Let your heart lead, your body release and your soul surrender. Off the mat, new space awaits you.
Jessica Snow and Nahla Tebcherany love being practitioners and ambassadors of body work. Finding play and magic in the monotony of the everyday offers an endless realm of wellness for both themselves and their clients. As instructors at Thrive Yoga, they focus on releasing physical and emotional trauma from the body by targeting the connective tissue. Weekly drop-in classes take place on Sundays at 4 p.m. and Fridays at 4:30 p.m., starting in October.
Location: 1321-B Rockville Pike (Woodmont Station Shopping Center), Rockville. For more information and for a full schedule of classes, call 301-294-9642 or visit ThriveYoga.com. Level 1 introductory classes for aerial yoga can be found on the website under workshops.