If you want to try something new, something challenging and something fun, I highly recommend Aerial Yoga!
My girls and I had such a wonderful first-time Aerial Yoga experience at Yoga Shed on our recent visit to the Gold Coast last week. The lovely owner and instructor, Marisa, led us through an invigorating session hanging, inverting, rotating and flexing, finishing off with the ultimate relaxing Savasana while laying cocooned in our hammocks. We left feeling energised but totally calm, restored and open.
What is Aerial Yoga?
Aerial Yoga, also known as Anti-Gravity Yoga, involves performing a series of movements using a hammock suspended from the ceiling. The exercises are derived from both traditional yoga poses with some adapted, and also moves and postures from acrobatics, pilates, callisthenics and gymnastics.
The Aerial Yoga hammock is designed to hold weights of over 100kgs and is ideally suspended so that you can hang upside down without touching the ground. It is used as a prop during your session, which may be in the form of support while you are still grounded or to provide partial or full suspension in other moves.
Benefits of aerial yoga
Traditional mat yoga is a great workout for the whole body. It challenges your strength, flexibility and balance. It also offers a meditative-like state in which to focus and calm your mind.
Aerial yoga offers all these positives too, but with some additional benefits to traditional mat yoga. These include:
- Increased flexibility. The range of stretch for your body is increased by using the hammock to support and suspend, allowing further rotation.
- Heightened demand on core stability. Because of this increased range, some moves will require increased core work to move back from these extended positions back to starting positions.
- Low impact. Being supported and suspended means that aerial yoga can be easier on certain joints than some of the mat poses can be (eg. if you have knee or ankle issues, there are many more options for you in aerial yoga).
- Inversions. With the support of the hammock, you are able to move in and out of inversions in aerial yoga offering additional moves and experiences.
- Hanging upside down may not seem like a benefit but it has been shown to offer great stretching and decompression of the spine.
- Gravity works its magic to naturally stretch out your spine, your muscles and soft tissue. Aerial yoga has been shown to be great for those with lower back pain.
- By moving in and out of inversions, you can also increase blood circulation. But take it slow to avoid dizziness.
This time we flew a little closer to the ground with aerial yoga, amazing!
Yoga Shed Gold Coast
Yoga Shed is a private studio in Mermaid Waters on the Gold Coast. First up, Marisa, our instructor and the studio owner, adjusted each of our hammocks to around the height where it would be comfortably stretched to sit just below the hips. This is done individually to cater specifically for each person’s height. We also each had a traditional yoga mat to use for grip and padded support.
At the beginning of the class, my eldest daughter and I found just hanging forward with the hammock around your hips was quite painful. Perhaps as runners, our hip flexors were a bit tight, especially with the added strain of your weight being supported. For me, the tension eased after a few minutes and I it was never an issue for the rest of the class. Marisa gave my daughter a small towel to provide extra comfort and once she warmed up, was also able to continue without it.
And then it all began!
So many new yoga poses!
There were many positions similar to floor yoga such as downward dog, warrior pose and side angle pose. Most of these started off as floor mat posts, then taken to the next level of flexibility by using the hammock for suspension.
We also hung upside down in various positions. It really did make you feel open and stretched being able to hang so freely!
But the fun really started when we jumped fully into the hammock! We flew in vampire pose, hung in bat pose and spun in and out! With the hammock, you are able to push your flexibility further in certain positions, invert and rotate while supported.
After a great session learning many new moves, we settled down into the traditional Savasana. Taking Savasana was a definite bonus lying in the hammock! Marisa kept us warm with cosy with blankets as our bodies cooled down. It was really so relaxing lying in the hammock as it allowed your body to fully relax into the suspension. Marisa led a softly spoken guided meditation which kept your mind conscious but fully relaxed. This really was the perfect end to the class!
Fully relaxed but invigorated!
Once the session was over, we felt amazing. Totally relaxed but invigorated! I actually felt a sense of calm but a funny sort of heightened elation. Not sure if it was from all that blood rushing to my head from hanging upside down so much! My entire body also felt very loose and open, no doubt from all the stretching and decompression of the spine from the inversions. I think I even felt a couple of centimetres taller after the session! So good!
My youngest daughter and I absolutely loved our first experience and will definitely be doing aerial yoga again!
My eldest daughter also enjoyed the experience, but decided that she still prefers mat yoga. She agreed though, that her body felt more open and loose after the session, particularly in the back, shoulders and hip flexors which may be stiff from running.
We totally loved our experience at Yoga Shed Gold Coast! Marisa was a great instructor, with clear directives while offering gentle adjustments where necessary. We will definitely be back to her studio next time we are in the Gold Coast!
I would definitely recommend aerial yoga for anyone interested in improving flexibility or floor yogis looking for a similar experience but with new challenges.
For runners or anyone active who needs a good stretch, the inversions in aerial yoga really allow you to get an amazing full body stretch, particularly a natural extension of your back.
If you live on the Gold Coast, lucky you! You can head to the Yoga Shed anytime. But for those of us who are interstate, perhaps heading to the GC for the Gold Coast Marathon event, pop into the studio for a low impact session. It will leave you feeling light headed (in a good way) and your body feeling like it has been totally stretched and relaxed! Those tight hip flexors from running will thank you later too!
You can find Yoga Shed Gold Coast at 4 Brightlands Court, Mermaid Waters, Queensland, AUSTRALIA.
*Active + Nourished was given a complimentary session by Yoga Shed Gold Coast. All comments expressed are our own views. For further information please refer to our Disclosure Policy.