Train the Trainer: Aerial Yoga

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We tried aerial yoga at InFlight Fitness in Calgary.

We are on a mission to try different sports and activities we have never tried before. We will be blogging after each new activity about our thoughts going in, our experience, and the final verdict. First up we tried aerial yoga (a type of AntiGravity Fitness) at InFlightFitness.

What is AntiGravity Fitness?

AntiGravity Fitness is a fitness technique designed to improve fitness and agility in a fun, different environment. The exercises are intended to decompress your spine and align your body from head to toe while stretching and strengthening your muscles. AntiGravity Fitness involves using a hammock to change your body’s position and support you while do different suspension techniques. The hammock has been used in everything from yoga, dance, pilates, and calisthenics. Learn more about the origins of AntiGravity Fitness.

Thoughts Going In:

Aerial yoga inversion, anti gravity fitness
Kelsey in a back belt inversion

Lauren: I have a few friends that have tried aerial yoga before and it always looked really cool but I didn’t really know what to expect. I enjoy yoga flow classes and find it a great fitness challenge but it also helps me unwind and turn my brain off. When I think of aerial yoga, I envision people gracefully flipping in and out of the hammock or hanging upside down in some cool, fun looking poses. I definitely struggle with inversions in regular yoga so we’ll see what happens!

Kelsey: I’ve been to yoga a few times before to and am relatively fit. I think at a minimum I’m going to be able to muscle my way through the poses. I don’t really know what to expect though, is it going to be like a regular yoga class where you flow through downward dog into warrior or is it going to be a beginners guide to Cirque du Soleil…I’m a little nervous about swinging around from silks and hanging upside down. I googled photos and I’m really hoping they go nice and slowly and are able to teach us HOW to get into some poses.

Thoughts After Class:

Anti Gravity Fitness, aerial yoga
Lauren in Chandelier pose

Lauren:We showed up to class and found out we had signed up for the wrong class! We were supposed to complete some fundamentals classes before joining the class we had signed up for but we ended up just jumping in. The first few sequences were a little sketchy and I was convinced I was going to go flying out of my silk and end up on a heap on the floor but the instructor was great and walked us through each pose step by step. Once I got settled I found that the silks helped me feel more supported and actually get deeper into a lot of the more “regular” poses and twists that I’m used to. At one point we were using the silks to do some core exercises and it was very similar to some of the TRX work I’ve done before. Savasana was also a very new experience as we were tucked inside the silk. Normally I rest my arms along my sides, palms up or rest my hands on my belly. Neither of those really worked for me in the silk so it took a bit of experimenting to find a new position.

Kelsey: So we screwed up. We somehow registered ourselves into the intermediate class. You know that class you have to take four foundation classes to get into in the class in first place. I was nervous going into the day and almost peed when I found this out. Luckily the ladies at InFlight Fitness were fabulous and were able to help Lauren and I out!  They went slowly for us and showed us how to do all sorts of fun poses. It was actually more like a yoga class than I expected but with an added bonus! I really enjoyed how much deeper I was able to get into poses because you could use the hammock for support. By pushing slightly into the hammock I was able to lunge deeper, twist through my torso and attempt poses I wouldn’t before. I’ve never been able to hold Half Moon pose before but I moved into the pose without a second thought! Throughout the class we were always given different levels of difficulty to choose from. I was battling a hamstring injury and was able to do about 90% of the class because of the added stability the hammock provided. When it came time to flip upside down it was actually a lot easier than I had expected! She showed us how and I rolled my eyes. There’s no way I was going to make it look as graceful/easy as she just did. To my surprise though I placed my weight here, put my foot there, leaned back and VOILA! I was upside down and felt completely secure. Now here’s what really surprised me! We fully suspended ourselves into our hammocks laying flat and moved into savasana. I got motion sickness!! It never occurred to me that might happen. When I brought it up at the end of class I was assured that it can happen when you first start the practice but it eventually goes away.

I have been helping our current participants work on being more mindful so I was determined to be present in the moment and tune into my breathing and body. Here’s how it went:

“Breath in two, three four. Hold two, three, four. Out two, three, four. In two, three, four….. I feel sick. I’m going to throw up. I can’t throw up in their hammock that would be mortifying. Okay try opening you’re eyes and staring past the ceiling. Phew okay I feel better. Right I’m supposed to be meditating. In two, three, four. Hold two, three, four. What do I do with my arms? I can’t really get them at my sides and I feel like a vampire with them crossed over my chest. Maybe I’ll peak and see what other people are doing. The girl beside me is hanging her arms out the top…How have her arms not fallen asleep?! Oh no I feel sick again. Okay stare at the ceiling. Why am I still swinging? I haven’t moved in five minutes why am I still swinging?! I wish I was better at physics. The answer would be so simple if I tried harder in biomechanics. I should call Mike (my engineer husband) after this and see if he knows why. Oh shoot I’m supposed to still my mind. Out two, three, four. Hold two, three, four. In two, three, four. “

Final Verdict:

Lauren: Lots and lots of fun! I would definitely recommend anti-gravity/aerial yoga! It was a lot of fun and spiced up my regular yoga routine. I would recommend having some yoga experience before joining one of these classes. Having some familiarity with the more basic warrior poses definitely helped me feel more comfortable with some of the crazier new poses. I’m usually pretty competitive and during yoga I find I’m usually looking around and comparing myself to what other people are doing. Being tucked inside the silk meant I had to pay more attention to me and I couldn’t pay as much attention to those around me.

Kelsey: So maybe I’m not the best at slowing my thoughts and being in the moment but I was definitely entertained the entire class. I would absolutely do aerial yoga again and would recommend everyone head over the Inflight Fitness and try it out! This time though I will definitely take the foundation classes to hopefully still the constant thoughts and comparisons with other participants.

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