With sheer focus and keeping your mind calm you maneuver various poses. It’s a gracious flow of the body, in the air. Aerial Yoga is a wonderful blend of traditional yoga and aerialist training.
Here’s a glimpse of aerial yoga at Om Studio in the city
In the early morning hours, it is utterly peaceful. Suspended from the ceiling are various hammocks. At Om Studio, the morning classes in aerial yoga are an interesting mix of various asanas, pranayama, pilates, and dance. It only becomes more thrill as you do all this in the air. However, you do stay close to the ground. Rinul Pashankar, co-founder of Om Studio, and master trainer in aerial yoga sheds light on aerial yoga.
A wonderful blend
At Om Studio, they blend in traditional yoga practices into aerial yoga. Any one-hour session in aerial yoga here starts typically with pranayama, followed by Surya Namaskar, both on the floor, before moving on to the hammock. In the silk hammock, you do all the yoga postures which are traditionally done. So the silk cloth, which is 9 * 3 meter in size, is the prop in aerial yoga practice.
Talking about the use of silk hammock, Pashankar says, “We use silk hammock in aerial yoga because it doesn’t burn into your skin. Thus, you can easily slide on it as you do various postures. Basically, it gives you a good support without hurting you.” The silk hammock has special knots with which it is suspended through carabiner on the ceiling. It can be used at different height settings, depending on the posture you are working on.
The prop helps you move from one posture to another more easily, in aerial yoga. It helps you to push your flexibility quite gently. Plus, you can hold any posture a little longer than in traditional yoga. Pashankar goes on to say, “Somebody who is a beginner or has a cervical issue and for those reasons cannot do shirshasana or headstand, for them with the cloth it becomes easier.”
An art form
As is with traditional yoga, in aerial yoga, too, you see different styles. It’s the essence of a teacher that reflects in any style, believes Pashankar. Having a solid background in Iyengar style of traditional yoga, Pashankar learnt aerial yoga in Hong Kong.
She upholds that aerial yoga is an art form. Emphasizing the point, she adds, “Yoga forms your basis, your core, and strength. In aerial yoga, though, you bring in the cloth in your practice. As you move on to the advanced levels, you easily maneuver the cloth. Then it becomes an art form.”
Stages of aerial yoga
It has been two years since Om Studio was founded. Today, they have four levels of aerial yoga. In level one, you get introduced to traditional practices of yoga and to the cloth. By the end of it, one can maneuver the cloth and has learnt how to engage their body core.
In the first two to three classes, the student needs to be handheld until he gets comfortable with the hammock. In level two, you integrate different postures and stitch them up through transitions. Level three and four are all about aerial choreography. In aerial choreography, which is a group activity, different postures and sequences are fabricated together.
As you progress through your training, aerial fitness becomes a combination of Pilates and dance. So by level two, you move into a blend of aerial yoga and aerial Pilates. Pashankar quips, “By level two, you are comfortable with the cloth. So, it becomes your friend in practice. As you progress, you explore on both fitness level and art form level. Levels two, three, and four are where you actually challenge yourself because you have learnt the cloth. After that, it’s a never-ending process.”
“My idea is not about how many students I have in my class; it’s about whoever comes in for the class I give the best of experience of learning to them. Then on, we want to form a big community of people practicing aerial yoga. It’s a nice give and take of energy,” says Pashankar.
All the benefits that you find in traditional yoga, are assured in aerial yoga. Primarily, aerial yoga helps elongate your spine, frees up physical compression for healthier joint mobilization, and develops your upper body and core strength.
Pashankar, however, expresses that any fitness form helps you first break procrastination. Thus, you come out of your lazy, sedentary lifestyle. You challenge yourself and keep moving. Aerial yoga helps build the mind-body coordination. It improves your body flexibility. There’s an overall body strengthening and balancing. She remarks, “While practicing aerial yoga, you need to calm yourself, work on your breath, stabilize yourself, and balance your body to carry out any posture. So along with strengthening your body, your mental strength is enhanced too.”
Right from kids above the age of five to elderly, anyone can practice aerial yoga. However, people with blood pressure and who have just had an eye surgery are advised to do only certain postures in aerial yoga. As you conclude a class in aerial yoga, with savasana, cocooned in your hammock, you feel spirited, calmed, and refreshed.
“Age cannot be a barrier to do any fitness form. In fact the more you indulge yourself in staying physically fit, mentally strong you will be,” she concludes.