If you're already a fan of yoga, you might be thinking of ways to take your practice to the next level. And you might think your only options are to drop in on a sweaty, humid hot yoga class or sign up for private lessons. But you're wrong! There's another option that will allow you to take your yoga practice to greater heights—literally.
Enter: aerial yoga classes. Half yoga class, half aerial arts instruction, these classes see students performing yoga stretches and poses while suspended roughly three feet off the ground. But aerial yoga is about much more than just acting out dreams about joining the cast of Cirque du Soleil. Read on to discover why this unique fitness form might just be the thing you need to take your workout to the next level.
Those silk hammocks hanging from the ceiling don't just look beautiful—they're actually super strong. A typical aerial yoga hammock can support as much as 2,000 pounds, so you can twirl through the air with total confidence.
Aside from being really fun, the real benefit of using the hammock is that it allows your body to move and stretch in ways it couldn't if you were stationary on the ground. That adds up to deeper stretches since the silks support the majority of your body weight for you.
While the yoga hammock helps support your body weight during inversions and other difficult to hold poses, it also forces to you engage your muscles in a different way in order to hold your balance and stabilize each move. As a result, aerial yoga classes offer a much more intense core workout than a typical yoga class.
Even if you never dreamed of running away to join the circus, swinging from the ceiling is bound to tap into other childhood memories. One of our editors likened her aerial yoga experience to swinging from tree branches and playing on monkey bars.
Every aerial yoga class is different, but many incorporate elements of other fitness styles, such as Pilates or barre. And some will also incorporate a cardio workout into the routine. Michelle's class at AIR, an aerial yoga studio in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood, has participants doing push ups on the floor, before they swing themselves into a hybrid pull-up/jump using the aerial silks above them.
Photos by Stephanie Bassos, Groupon.
This article was originally published in a different format and has since been updated by our editors.