Aerial yoga combines traditional asana (the physical postures of yoga) and yoga philosophies with the aerial arts. Silk fabrics and/or ropes are hung from above to aid practitioners in forming shapes.
You can be fully supported by the silks — even lying down entirely, like in a hammock — or wrap the silks around particular body parts, keeping other parts on the floor.
Hanging fully or suspending individual body parts is believed to create traction and open your body more gently and intuitively than when you’re on the floor. The silks and ropes can also be helpful for balance.
While many aerial yoga classes have an acrobatic element, a growing number of classes and teachers are also using the aerial silks much more therapeutically.
The versatility and support of the fabric allow people to access new movements. It can also reduce the load on wrists and knees, which can sometimes limit mobility in a floor-based practice.”
For people with knee issues, getting to the floor can be challenging.
The practice of yoga with props is largely credited to B.K.S. Iyengar (1918–2014), who developed the Iyengar type of yoga.
In addition to using the blocks, straps, blankets, and rope walls you may see at many studios, Iyengar would hang his students from the ceiling in yoga swings (1).
The original swings were not like the colorful silk hammocks we see today. They were often made solely of ropes and would be padded with yoga mats or blankets.
Antigravity yoga, as it was originally called, began to gain traction in the late 1990s. The first yoga swing, a collection of silk harnesses connected to handles and foot holdings, was purportedly created in the U.K. in 2001 (1).
The yoga hammock — which is one long piece of fabric — and the style name “aerial yoga” started appearing around 2011. Today, aerial yoga studios and aerial yoga-trained teachers can be found around the globe.
A combination of the arts and athletics, aerial yoga offers several physical and psychological benefits: