The Benefits of Anti-Gravity Yoga

By Larry Payne, Georg Feuerstein, Sherri Baptiste, Doug Swenson, Stephan Bodian, LaReine Chabut, Therese Iknoian

Anti-gravity, or Aerial, Yoga is a way of stretching, extending, folding, twisting, and inverting with the support of a 10-foot-wide silk hammock suspended from the ceiling. Strikingly new and New World, it was conceived in 1991 by gymnast and dancer Christopher Harrison, who later launched it in 2007. It combines yoga with dance and gymnastics, resulting in a novel hybrid that engages the mind and the body in challenging and delightful ways.

Many reasons draw people to practice Aerial Yoga. Here are just a couple:

  • The “yum” factor: Practicing yoga in a hammock has an element of deliciousness. With the support of the soft, smooth cloth, the body can stretch more deeply and enjoy greater release with both extension and flexion (folding). Some may find that the gentle give of the fabric makes a seated forward bend a more accessible and rewarding experience than the classic version, which is a challenging posture for many.

  • The fear factor: Aerial Yoga is also a way to develop trust, first in the hammock and then in yourself. If you’re a person who saunters to the end of the diving board and goes head first into the pool without hesitation, feel free to skip this paragraph. But if you’re someone who walks gingerly to the end of the board and then thinks twice or even three times before diving, practicing Anti-gravity Yoga with a teacher you trust may be a liberating experience for you.

Knowing intellectually that the hammock can hold up to 1,000 pounds isn’t enough for everyone to automatically feel free to flip and invert using the hammock for support and leverage. These acts may look effortless, and with practice, they may become so. But many people can take up to 10 or 12 classes to develop the confidence to figuratively let go and flip. (Figuratively is the key word here; do not let go of the cloth.)