Among the myriad of yoga styles available to the modern practitioner, aerial yoga stands out as a graceful and exciting way to transform your practice.
As evident by many studios introducing aerial yoga classes to their schedule, it continues to grow more popular among new and existing yoga practitioners.
Whether you’re a seasoned aerial yoga enthusiast or just beginning your journey, these 9 aerial poses are sure to inspire and elevate your practice, helping you enhance your skills and empower your practice.
In this article, we will cover the following:
- Brief introduction to aerial yoga
- Understanding aerial yoga poses
- Tips and tricks for beginners
- 6 aerial yoga poses for beginners
- 3 aerial yoga poses for intermediate and advanced practitioners
Without further ado, let’s explore the world of anti-gravity yoga and dissect 9 popular aerial yoga poses.
Brief Introduction to Aerial Yoga
Aerial yoga, also known as anti-gravity yoga or flying yoga, is a unique and innovative form of yoga that combines the elements of traditional yoga and aerial circus arts.
Relying on a silk hammock or ropes suspended from the ceiling, this style of yoga attempts to defy gravity in a mindful and accessible way.
The role of the hammock is to support the practitioner’s body weight and allow them to explore yoga poses in a suspended environment.
Due to its unique nature, aerial yoga offers a number of benefits, including but not limited to:
- Less pressure on the joints and spine
- An outlet for the practitioners’ creativity within the practice
- New ways to challenge strength, flexibility, and coordination
- Access to inversions for newer practitioners and those who have mobility or balance issues
- A boost in confidence and improved self-image
It does not come all at once, but for most practitioners, this is an enjoyable journey worth pursuing.
Understanding Aerial Yoga Poses
Naturally, throwing a suspended fabric hammock into the mix has a serious effect on the practice. As a result, the poses “borrowed” from traditional yoga don’t necessarily look or feel the same.
For instance, the weight distribution in the yoga hammock is very different compared to performing the same poses on the ground. There is typically less pressure on the joints and spine and more emphasis on upper body strength and flexibility.
Another common divergence between aerial yoga poses and traditional asanas is that the former will often look quite different, including facing in another direction. For instance, some traditional asanas are partially or fully inverted.The support and the physical contact with the fabric are likely to induce new sensations too. The sensation of flying and swinging can deepen mindfulness and presence, while being swaddled in your hammock may have a calming effect.
Finally, some of the aerial yoga poses are unique to this style of yoga as they cannot be performed in the absence of the hammock.
Before You Start
First time doing aerial yoga? Here are eight essentials you need to know before you start:
- Always practice aerial yoga under the guidance of a certified instructor who can ensure proper alignment, technique, and safety throughout the session.
- Prior to attempting any aerial poses, be sure to thoroughly warm up your body to prepare your muscles and joints for the practice.
- Wear clothing that facilitates a full range of motion and protects your skin from friction burns. Avoid loose clothing.
- If you have long hair, tie it back. Remove any jewelry that may get in the way, such as necklaces, bulky bracelets, or intricate earrings.
- If you have any medical conditions such as high blood pressure, glaucoma, or vertigo, consult with a healthcare professional before attempting inversions.
- Take breaks as much as necessary. Aerial yoga can be quite taxing for new and experienced practitioners, so be sure to listen to your body.
- Aerial yoga can be physically demanding, so remember to hydrate before and after your practice.
- Trust the equipment! When you attend a professional aerial yoga studio, you should be able to fully focus on your practice.
6 Aerial Yoga Poses for Beginners
1. Floating Downward Facing Dog
There are several variations of Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) in aerial yoga. The main principle of the aerial version is the support around the hips that allows the spine to decompress without putting too much weight on the wrists.
The practitioner can enter the pose by “entering” the loop of the yoga hammock with their upper body and positioning the fabric at the fold of the hips.
From there, you have the option to perform this pose with your feet floating off the ground in the signature Down Dog position or raise your legs to emphasize the aspects of heart opening and inversion.
You can even perform a variation of Three-Legged Dog (Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana) by keeping one foot on the ground and crocheting the other around the hammock in a raised position.
2. Flying Lunge
Similarly, there are a few ways to elevate Lunge Pose (Ashta Chandrasana), both literally and figuratively.
In the most commonly used variation, the silk is positioned under the front knee or the entire front thigh to provide support. This creates an interesting new angle for a familiar pose.
If you want to challenge your balance, you can try resting the back foot in the hammock. Whereas if your main focus is on the backbend in this pose, try the variation where the fabric sits across the shoulder blades and supports your weight under the arms.
3. Supported Warrior III
Aerial yoga hammock is a great way to provide stability to challenging balance postures, especially for beginner yogis.
To include Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III) in your aerial practice, you can use the hammock as something to hold onto to help you stay steady.
Another excellent variation involves stretching the silk enough to accommodate the hands, as well as the foot of the floating leg.
4. Aerial Buddha Pose
Inspired by Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana), this aerial posture uses the yoga hammock to imitate Buddha’s signature seat. It binds the soles of the feet together while the hips are wide open.
The other variation of the Aerial Buddha pose involves sitting laterally (sideways) in the hammock, with your back resting on one side of the fabric and your feet set across the fabric in front.
Both of these options are beginner-friendly and are typically included in aerial yoga classes aimed at novices.
5. Flying Locust
This fun but challenging pose serves are a great transition from Floating Downward Facing Dog.
With the silk still positioned at the hip, the goal is to engage the leg and back muscles and arch as you would in Locust Pose (Salabhasana).
To enable a deeper backbend in the thoracic spine, you can reach your arms back and hold onto the “straps” of the hammock.
For a variation that challenges your sense of balance, stretch the arms back and float!
6. Suspended Savasana
Once you experience this floating variation of Corpse Pose (Savasana), you won’t want to go back to lying on your mat.
Being gently suspended in the air instantly creates an unparalleled sense of safety, relaxation, and comfort.
Surrounded and supported by the soft fabric of the yoga hammock, you will feel like you’re being lulled to sleep in your mother’s arms.
3 Aerial Yoga Poses for Intermediate and Advanced Practitioners
1. Aerial Buddha Inversion
Similar to the asana detailed above, Aerial Buddha Inversion kind of looks like the Reclined Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana), except upside down.
It’s a great pose to open the hips, but most notably, it really helps to stretch and decompress the spine in the inverted position.
2. Dancer Pose Inversion
With the use of a yoga hammock, this beautiful pose replicates the same shape as Lord of the Dance (Natrajasana). The major difference is that this aerial Dancer Pose is inverted.
With the fabric typically wrapped around the waist or lower back, one leg is extended upwards, while the other is bent and reaching back.
Similar to regular Natarajasana, you have the option of single- or double-hand contact. You may also choose to grasp your back food with an overhead grip.
3. Supported Aerial Handstand
Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana) is generally regarded as one of the most difficult yoga poses. The difficult poses article can be linked? However, this aerial variation is a great stepping stone to a confident free-standing handstand.
The hammock wraps around the lower back and legs, taking some of the pressure off the wrists and providing extra stability.
To mitigate different heights and arm lengths, the strands of fabric can be wrapped around the legs multiple times to provide enough lift.
There are options to practice the handstand with different leg positions. For instance, you can use the yoga hammock to accommodate the Aerial Buddha Handstand or even a Scorpion Handstand (Vrschikasana).
Aerial yoga is just as fascinating and versatile as its ground-based counterpart.
Once you get a taste of this practice, you will have plenty of opportunities to explore all of the amazing poses it includes.
If you’re curious as to what aerial yoga practice may look like, check out the following Gratitude Flow: