Anti-gravity yoga or "aerial yoga", is a new type of yoga, originating in New York but now being practised in several countries, which combines the traditional yoga poses, pilates and dance with the use of a hammock.
Anti-gravity yoga requires a special kind of hammock which can support up to 300 kilos of weight. The rig consists of support chains, a webbing strap, a silk hammock and carabiners.
Two support chains hang down from the ceiling to less than one meter from the floor, and the hammock is connected at the height preferred by the user.
The hammock acts like a swing or soft trapeze, supporting the hips for forward bends and back bends. Yoga postures which some find difficult to do on the ground, such as the reverse post, may be easier in mid-air using the hammock, and the hammock moves add variety to a workout.
There is a lack of well-designed clinical trials to support the effectiveness of yoga in improving general health, and anti-gravity yoga is too new to have been studied in this way. However, anecdotal evidence indicates that by facilitating bending and stretching of the whole body during exercise, muscles and joints will be strengthened and rehabilitated, and the spine decompressed as the body hangs freely. As with other forms of active exercise, the circulatory, respiratory and digestive systems are improved through increased blood circulation. Yoga in general, and anti-gravity yoga in particular is promoted as benefiting emotional, psychological and spiritual health.
There are an ever-increasing number of poses to try out during a session of anti-gravity yoga, with the most popular including:
With the hammock supporting you just above your waist and hands holding the material, straighten your legs and lean back. Slowly let your arms fall wide behind you to complete the cross shape.
This is one of the first inversions learnt during an anti-gravity yoga class. With the hammock resting on the tailbone of your spine and hands gripping the sides, sit and let your body slowly fall backwards whilst opening your legs to rest against the material. Slide your hands down slowly to the floor and stabilise.
From the star inversion, bend your right knee and hook your foot across the front of the hammock.
From the one-legged king pigeon pose, reach back with one of your hands and grab your left foot or ankle. Then again with your second. Sink into the position and relax.
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