The workout that makes you feel taller and sleep better

My first aerial yoga experience was completely random.

I was on a work trip in a tiny little town in regional Queensland called Woombye. Honestly, before I got there, I was expecting to be bored for the weekend. But then we stumbled across an aerial yoga studio, and saw a bunch of people hanging from silks.

And thought FUN.

Within hours, we were doing our own class. And I fell in love.

A quick run-down – aerial yoga is basically stretches and yoga poses that involve a silk hanging from the ceiling (the silk bottom is at the height of your hip). There are some that just involve holding the silk to further stretch a muscle, some that involve sitting/standing in the silk to work the core, and some that involve hanging upside-down.

Now, let me be honest – I grew up as a dancer, so I have a co-ordination advantage. But my friends who accompanied me were of varying co-ordination levels, and there were other absolute beginners in the class. In fact, every aerial class I’ve done since has had beginners, and I have NEVER SEEN ANYONE SLIP OUT AND HIT THE FLOOR.

I know that was your first question. It was definitely mine.

In the aerial yoga classes I have done since (I’ve only done about seven, so I’m still a beginner myself), I have realised that we actually learned some really advanced stuff in our first class, which was testament to the teacher and environment. I have always felt safe in the classes, and have never been pushed to do something that I’m not ready for. Don’t be afraid, just try it.

Here’s what you need to know:

You will feel taller. I’m serious. I couldn’t believe how long my spine felt after my first class, and every time I practice, I feel that same lengthening. I have had back and neck problems for years, and this is one of the best things I’ve ever done.

It’s not as hard as it looks. That’s not just my opinion, that’s what I’ve heard many beginners say. It is a bit pinch-y at first (I find it occasionally really painful in my hip flexors when we are doing the aerial version of ‘Downward Dog’, but I am told that is standard for a beginner, and will loosen up quickly).

Yes, you might get a little dizzy. I have low-blood pressure so I thought I’d most definitely faint. But you can just step out of the stretch whenever needed and curl up on the floor until you’re ready. Surprisingly, it is not as dizzifying as I feared it would be.

It’s a damn good workout. Classes vary in difficulty – some may be more like a meditative stretch, and other involve more flips and skills. Sometimes it feels like cardio, sometimes it doesn’t. But it is always excellent core work, and always a magnificent stretch.

Wear tight clothing. Baggy clothing might get in your way and in your face. Probably better to stick with form-fitting (and no jewellery or zippers).

You will sleep like a log. Maybe it’s just me, but every single time I have done an aerial class (especially in the evening), I have fallen into the deepest sleep imaginable that night.

The final five minutes of the class is the best feeling in the world. I can’t speak for all yoga studios, but the two that I have practised aerial at have a wonderful end to each class. We climb into our silks, lie in them like a hammock, close our eyes, and lay in ‘Shavasana’ (that’s roughly yoga for ‘lying like a log and trying not to fall asleep’). The silk supports every arch of your body, and you feel like your floating. I have never been a ‘meditate-y’ person, but lately I find that if I can’t fall asleep, I remember that feeling of lying in a silk, and I feel completely relaxed.

And best of all…

You feel like an acrobat. A relaxed, meditate-y, taller, stronger, calmer acrobat.

What an aerial yoga class looks like

Have you tried a new fitness class recently?

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