From blocks to bolsters, straps to sandbags, yoga practitioners around the world embrace supportive tools to deepen stretches and cultivate mindfulness.
Yet, amidst the array of common props that adorn yoga studios, there lies a lesser-known gem that holds the potential to elevate our practice to new heights, quite literally . . .
. . . Yep, we’re talking about yoga on ropes.
Derived from the traditional practice of “yoga kurunta”, this suspended form of yoga empowers practitioners with a unique and invigorating way to explore postures, offering a style that blends strength, flexibility, and balance in new ways.
A must-try style for every yoga lover, in this article we’re going to convince you. We’ll be looking at:
- What is yoga on ropes?
- 2 different types of yoga on ropes
- 7 reasons to try yoga on ropes
- Safety precautions of yoga on ropes
What is yoga on ropes?
So, first things first – what actually is yoga on ropes?
Well, as the name suggests, yoga on ropes is a style of yoga that incorporates the use of ropes to support, deepen and modify yoga poses.
These ropes are typically suspended from the wall or ceiling via strong hooks and can be adjusted to different heights and lengths to accommodate various poses and body types.
While this may sound novel, the use of ropes in yoga is not a new concept.As well as being mentioned in various yogic texts, there are also many paintings dating to the 17th century and before that depict yogis hanging from trees in inversions, showcasing a long-lived tradition of using ropes in yoga practice.
Despite ancient origins, rope yoga was popularised by B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the most influential yoga teachers of the 20th century.
He fathered the Iyengar style of yoga, which emphasizes precision, alignment, and the use of props to help students achieve the correct posture in each asana.
Iyengar’s prop use included using wall ropes to support and guide students in various yoga poses, allowing them to experience the benefits of the postures more effectively.
As well as this intention, rope yoga carries a whole host of benefits, which are explored in more detail below!
2 different types of yoga on ropes
In general, there are two main styles of rope yoga, which vary slightly in their set-up, intention, and technique:
#1: Kurunta Yoga
Kurunta Yoga, also known as Wall Yoga, derives from a Sanskrit title that translates to “puppet yoga” – referring to the practice of a body dangling on and moved by ropes.
As its name suggests, this form of yoga incorporates ropes affixed to a wall to bolster and enrich traditional yoga postures.
By employing these ropes, practitioners can adapt poses, intensify stretches, and refine their alignment. Ropes serve as a reassuring guide and offer a sense of safety and reinforcement, lessening strain and potential injury risks.
Moreover, having the support of ropes can allow practitioners to maintain a pose for longer periods of time, which allows a deeper concentration and experience of the pose.
#2: Aerial Yoga
Aerial Yoga, also known as flying yoga, is a unique style that incorporates a long, wide stretch of soft fabric that is suspended from the ceiling to form something similar to a hammock or swing.
During this style, the practitioner uses the wide parts of the hammock to support their body weight, while twisting other parts of the fabric to form a rope which allows them to explore yoga poses both on and off the ground.
Whereas Wall Yoga is more traditional, Aerial Yoga allows for a combination of traditional yoga poses, Pilates, aerial arts, and dance – creating a dynamic and playful experience.
10 reasons to try yoga on ropes
This unique form of yoga offers a myriad of advantages that cater to both the physical and mental well-being of practitioners. Here are ten compelling benefits of incorporating rope yoga into your wellness routine:
#1: Boosts confidence
Rope yoga can push you out of your comfort zone and require you to take leaps of faith. By challenging you to explore new poses and movements in the air, rope yoga fosters a sense of fearlessness, accomplishment, and empowerment as you conquer each new challenge.
What’s more, this newfound confidence often extends beyond the yoga practice and can positively influence various aspects of life.
#2: Encourages focus
The suspended nature of rope yoga can develop our concentration and attentiveness in and outside of the yoga studio.
Achieving balance and transitioning between different postures while hanging in mid-air and synchronizing our movements with the ropes calls for mindfulness and focus, which can strengthen these faculties in the practitioner in everyday life.
#3: Strengthens the mind-body connection
Rope yoga requires us to engage our entire body to maintain balance and control in unusual positions without the earth below our feet. By doing so, it encourages us to develop a stronger awareness of our bodies’ movements, sensations, and distributions.
This can lead to a stronger mind-body connection, feeding a deeper understanding of our mood, physical capabilities, and condition, and a more profound sense of self-awareness.
#4: Boosts physical health
Engaging in rope yoga regularly can make an amazing contribution to our overall physical fitness. It helps build strength, flexibility, and stamina while also increasing cardiovascular endurance through dynamic movements and postures.
Indeed, a comprehensive 2019 study concluded that ‘Aerial fitness may be another recreational activity that could be used to maintain higher levels of flexibility, balance, cardiorespiratory fitness, and strength.’
Another study conducted by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) in 2016 found that despite being a low to moderate-intensity exercise, Aerial Yoga practice led to a significant decrease in risk factors linked to cardiovascular disease in participants.
#5: Relieves tightness and pain
The act of hanging upside down and inverting in Iyengar, Kurunta, and Aerial Yoga is believed to alleviate inflammation and joint compression caused by gravity and aging, as well as release tension in the organs and muscles.
#6: Great for your mental health
As a combination of the two practices, aerial yoga can only be a recipe for calm and confidence!
#7: It’s something new!
Last but not least on our list of reasons to try yoga with ropes is that it’s simply something new to experience and try out.
For newbies or those stuck in a rut with their yoga routine, rope yoga can be a great way to introduce a sense of novelty and adventure.
Exploring new poses and movements in a suspended environment adds fun and playfulness to the practice which might just get you hooked.
Safety Precautions & Contraindications
While yoga on ropes can be an amazing addition to your yoga routine, there are a number of precautions and contraindications that are important to consider before diving into the practice of Kurunta or Aerial Yoga.
It’s crucial to always practice under the guidance of a certified instructor familiar with Kurunta and Ariel Yoga techniques and safety protocols.
Yoga on ropes, particularly Aerial yoga, can be dangerous even for the most experienced yoga practitioners.
Use high-quality and well-maintained equipment, such as ropes, hammocks, or silks, to ensure safety during the practice.
It’s also super important to check and adhere to the weight limit specifications of the equipment to prevent accidents or damage.
Make sure to engage in a proper warm-up and cool-down, and progress gradually from basic to complex poses, especially as a beginner.
Listen to your body, wear appropriate attire, and stay hydrated to ensure a safe and enjoyable Kurunta and Ariel Yoga experience. This might all sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many yoga accidents could be avoided by taking on these points!
Yoga on ropes can take up a lot of room, so make sure to maintain a safe distance from others practicing around you to avoid collisions, accidents, and close encounters!
People Who Shouldn’t Practice Kurunta and Aerial Yoga:
- Pregnant Women: Due to the potential risks involved with certain poses, we heavily recommend that pregnant women should avoid these practices unless specifically modified by a qualified prenatal yoga instructor.
- People with High Blood Pressure: The inversions and upside-down positions in many rope yoga practices may not be suitable for individuals with uncontrolled high blood pressure.
- Individuals with Glaucoma: Some poses involve increased pressure in the eyes, which may be problematic for those with glaucoma.
- Those with Recent Surgeries: People who have undergone recent surgeries, especially involving the spine or joints, should consult their healthcare provider before participating.
- Persons with severe Vertigo or Motion Sickness: Those with severe vertigo or motion sickness may find certain poses in rope yoga uncomfortable or triggering.
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