Like many Vancouverites, I am an avid Yoga fan and have practiced different styles over the last few years. So when I found out there was a fitness class in which yoga is practiced “in the air,” I was instantly curious.
Aerial Yoga classes involve traditional yoga poses combined with Pilates, aerial gymnastic and the use of smooth silk hammocks. The result is a class that takes yogis into deeper poses, not impeded by the floor. My search for Aerial Yoga in Vancouver lead me to Tantra Fitness, where I went to experience yoga in the air.
My Saturday class was intimate, with about 10 of us in the studio, and there were just as many colourful hammocks suspended from the ceiling. Each of us stood by a hammock as our leader for the morning, Daniela Wilman, gave us instructions on how to get into our first meditative position. I jumped into my blue silk hammock, stretched it out from head to toes, and laid back in it. My first few moments in the class, and I was relaxing in a comfortable hammock, slowly rocking from side to side. It was blissful.
As we started getting into our modified versions of familiar yoga poses, I could really feel the depth of each stretch (after taking longer than usual to get the positioning of the hammock right each time).
Because of the small class size, Wilman was able to see everyone from her hammock, and happily assisted me when mine swang out of control (although it was fun). The movements flowed easily from one pose to another, really making you feel light and playful. Swinging from Mountain (a back stretch) to a forward lean with the support of the hammock was a fun way to unwind between poses. And Wilman was there to help complete my experience when I went for my first zen inversion, carrying my entire bodyweight on the hammock, head and arms hanging low towards the ground, legs high up supported by the hammock and feet touching.
The feeling of hanging upside-down is strange at first, but it really gets the blood flowing allowing a sense of clear-headedness.
“Aerial yoga is becoming more popular because it not only provides a different way to practice yoga and workout, it also gives a great amount of support for people with different abilities,” said Wilman, who has been teaching for four years. “Certain poses are very difficult for many people, and the assistance of the silks (or hammocks) helps distribute weight differently. This enables people to move deeper into a pose without the usual strain on the body.”
She added that besides the fun aspect, it is also ideal for increasing flexibility and spinal decompression. “In an everyday yoga class you use the floor, and various props. The hammock (in aerial) is a prop that enables a greater range of motion which gets a deeper stretch. It is exhilarating and liberating to be suspended while experiencing these poses.”
At the end of class, just like the start, we went back into our hammocks for a meditative floating savasana. It was extremely blissful, again.
“[Aerial Yoga] is super fun and everyone should try it at least once. Don’t be daunted, have faith in the silks and trust your inner child,” Wilman said.
Aerial Yoga classes are offered throughout the week at Tantra Fitness. All classes are $25+ tax for guests, $9-tax for monthly members. Aerial punch cards are $80 for four classes or $108 for six. For more information, check out Tantra Fitness.
Next week for Fun Fitness, I combine fitness with dance… and a pole!