Aerial yoga benefits
Aerial yoga is one of the best and most fun ways to decompress the spine! And decompressing the spine must be one of the best things we could to do our health I think. Spinal decompression involves the process of alleviating pressure that is built up over time inside the discs of the back, which are located between each vertebra. And aerial yoga offers endless opportunities to acheive just this.
Health benefits of decompressing the spine
Decompressing, or traction of the spine ultimately means to create more space between the vertebras which in turn reduces the pressure inside the disks between the vertebras. This will help pulling nutrients, oxygen and moisture back into the disks.
When we are young, our discs between each vertebra are juicy and packed full of water which means we float along through the day on a cushion of fluid. As we advance in years, our discs lose fluid and we usually lose height. Our movements also become more jarring, and alas! More rickety.
The height loss is due to reduced concentrations of the magic proteoglycans substance inside the discs exerting weaker osmotic attraction on water to keep the discs fully hydrated and plumped up.
Sustained spinal loading dramatically reduces the synthesis rates of proteoglycans and we mainly load our spines through excessive hours of sitting. Sitting also forces fluid out of the discs, while at the same time making it harder to get fresh gulps back in. For this reason, thinner discs are much more common in the lumbar area, as we get older.
Each day, all of us lose approximately 20% of discal fluid through two sets of forces: the weighing down of gravity and muscular activity compressing the spine. This means we all go to bed approximately 2 centimetres shorter because of disc dehydration. There have been small studies carried out on footballers measured before and after the game where height loss could be restored with spinal decompression.
Why Aerial Yoga?
Aerial yoga offers many of the same benefits and enjoyments of regular yoga, but it also has some additional benefits as well:
It creates space between the vertebras in the spine. This to me is the number one reason to do this. Its a lot easier to reach a level of relaxation here, and at the same time be able to separate the vertebras. the tissue of the aerial silk along with gravity pulling on your body weight will in my experience help you to a greater extent than normal yoga.
Greater Flexibility. Since you have more freedom of movement, you can move your body into new positions. In some cases, this can result in a deeper and more fulfilling stretch than traditional yoga offers.
Better Focus. By putting yourself in a more challenging situation than usual, aerial yoga forces you to be more alert and aware of your surroundings. You will likely also try to concentrate harder because you’re not used to being suspended in the air during your yoga practice.
Strengthened Muscles. Because gravity is working harder on your body than usual, your muscles work harder too. Aerial yoga is also a great core workout because you have to engage your core muscles to balance and stabilize yourself during your yoga session.
Stress-Relief. Much like traditional yoga, aerial yoga is great for stress relief. Not only do you use poses and stretches common to other forms of yoga to relieve stress, but you also experience the joy of knowing that you did something new and exciting, which makes you feel good.
Of course, any kind of physical exercise poses some risk of injury. So what are the risks associated with aerial yoga?
Is Aerial Yoga Safe?
Aerial yoga is a safe form of exercise in that all aerial yoga classes should be taught by a certified aerial yoga instructor (you can specifically ask your yoga facility about your instructor’s qualifications before taking an aerial class). Your instructor will be able to tell you how to perform aerial poses properly, so that you don’t injure yourself.
Furthermore, you are only suspended three or so feet from the ground during aerial classes (although you can adjust the height of your hammock to suit your needs or make the class more challenging). Therefore, the risk of injuring yourself from falling is quite minimal.
Some considerations to take into account, however, are the multiple risks associated with hanging upside down for too long. Of course, no reputable yoga instructor is going to keep you upside down for longer than is healthy, but you should be aware of the health risks associated with this activity nonetheless.
Most people can engage in aerial yoga with few to no problems. However, if any of the following apply to you, you should consider a different form of exercise or — at the very least — consult with your doctor and yoga instructor before trying an aerial class:
- Eye diseases
- Recent eye surgery
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Bone disorders
- High/Low blood pressure
- Prosthetic hips
- Colds/Flu/Any condition that blocks the nasal passages
Advice for first class
For those of you who have decided to give this unique form of exercise a try, here are some tips to help you avoid accidents and injuries in your first class:
Wear form-fitting, but comfortable, clothes. Loose or baggy clothing can make it difficult to move and has the potential to get snagged or tangled in the hammock’s mechanisms.
Go barefoot. You’ll feel more comfortable moving around in the hammock this way.
Drink plenty of water, and eat a light meal. This will prepare you for the intensity of the workout ahead.
Avoid soft drinks and other acidic liquid before class. These might cause unpleasant feelings in your gut when performing the upside-down movements.
Do not use hand lotion. It might stick to the hammock, or make it harder for you to maintain your grip.
Remove jewelry, watches and anything else that can rip into or get tangled in the hammock. This also includes untrimmed fingernails and toenails.
Be considerate toward your instructor and classmates. If you have good relationships with them, they’re more likely to give you help when you need it.
Don’t go at it alone. Unless you’re 100 percent sure of your aerial yoga skills, you’ll be much safer performing with others.
Aerial yoga might seem like an intimidating exercise at first but it can be incredibly rewarding and exciting. Many fitness clubs offer aerial classes for people of all fitness and skill levels. Check into the aerial options in your area, and you just might discover your favourite form of exercise yet.