Research into alternative sports therapies is becoming increasingly popular, but it is not surprising that the focus is primarily on injuries and disabilities. After all, sick and (physically) disabled people would like to do something active and fun.
One such activity gaining ground these days is aerial yoga – a combination of slow movements in an elevated, hammock-like structure. The best thing? People can do it in front of the TV at home!
What Is Aerial Yoga
Aerial yoga is growing in popularity mainly because it brings a new perspective on human anatomy and what was previously thought possible. This begins with improved awareness and knowledge about the body itself. One of the ways to achieve this is by using hammocks to perform acrobatic movements, which thus far were considered impossible – also known as aerial yoga.
The trend is still relatively young but keeps growing rapidly. It’s an exciting new development that is already getting a lot of attention among yoga enthusiasts worldwide.
Pushed by celebrities such as Madonna, Demi Moore, and Gwyneth Paltrow, aerial yoga involves hanging from a silk hammock and using it to challenge gravity with a series of acrobatic poses.
The creative freedom within the hammock adds an element of fun to yoga. By adding new twists, turns, and angles to traditional poses, you will work all parts of your body while improving your spatial orientation – not to mention it’s an excellent workout for your core!
What do you need to practice aerial yoga
All you really need is a hammock and a space to attach it. While the hammock has to be specifically designed for the purpose, the relatively low cost of entry means that aerial yoga can easily fit into most yogi’s budgets (notwithstanding any optional accessories).
There are many brands on the market. Most hammocks are suspended from the ceiling or wall-mounted structures and hold up to 200 pounds. Hammocks made from silk are the most common, but a cotton is also an option if you prefer something more affordable. And when they say hammock, they usually mean baby-hammock, which is stretched between two points and not intended for swinging.
If you’re going to start practicing aerial yoga, look out for the following features:
- Space. The higher it is, the better. Best suspend your hammock from a beam or a sturdy branch of a tree!
- Sustainability. It might sound silly, but take care that your baby-hammock (or whatever you choose) won’t break while you’re in it. If you’re not sure, check out the reviews online. Otherwise, you might end up on the ground right after rocking your world!
- Size. You want to change poses often, and many require lying down. So make sure that the hammock is wide enough for this purpose – otherwise, it will be next to impossible.
- Weight capacity. Most hammocks are designed for people weighing up to 200 pounds. If you are heavier, make sure that it can support your weight before buying!
- Accessories. Although not necessary, you might want to complete your hammock with straps or loops, which will allow you to attach various yoga accessories such as straps, blocks, or other objects designed to enhance the practice.
Now that you know what’s essential while choosing a hammock for aerial yoga check out our favorite models!
Aerial Yoga Set for beginners – QYK Yoga Hammock, Trapeze Swing Set
This set is perfect for aerial yoga beginners as you don’t even need a ceiling buckle to start! You can simply attach it to your door.
QYK Yoga Hammock is an excellent choice for beginners as it’s a complete package. It doesn’t cost much either, so if you would like to experience the joy of aerial yoga without investing too much cash on your first try, this is your best bet.
The stretch band is made of a silky fabric that does not irritate or burn your skin by friction and is both strong and soft. The maximum weight capacity is approximately 100 kg.
The only thing is that you need a solid and stable door to use this set. Make sure that the door will support your weight as well.
Aerial Yoga Sets with handles
Handles are for people who want to try some therapeutic poses – they provide extra grip and balance. Below sets come with straps and loops included!
This aerial yoga hammock is made of 210t nylon silk – the material that is breathable, soft, durable, cool, and has a good touch. NACHEN Aerial Yoga Hammock is comfortable, fully adjustable, and adapts to your body curves for a comfortable lay.
The hammock comes already pre-knotted, allowing you to start using it immediately. There are 6 loops on each extension strap, allowing you to adjust the length quickly. Although you will probably want to tie it according to your height, the 6ft 6in maximum size should be plenty for most people.
When not in use, this hammock can easily be folded into a small carrying bag so you can take it with you wherever you go.
Capacity: up to 200 kg
This is a professional trapeze for aerial yoga and acrobatic exercises. It’s made of high-quality materials and is very easy to install. The heavy-duty carabiners and swivels provide safety, while the foam padding allows you to transition from one pose to another easily.
Rubber handle grips add extra stability and comfort. Adjustable straps allow you to customize the trapeze to your height. You will also receive video tutorials and pose charts in pdf format. A full package!
This trapeze is meant for people who want a professional set that will last for many years, even decades!
Capacity: up to 600lbs
The Yoga4You Aerial Yoga Hammock is made of high-quality silk nylon fabric, which makes it extremely light and long-lasting. It does not stretch. Foam handles are comfortable and flexible, making them ideal for aerial gymnastics.
Steel carabiners and triple stitches prevent the yoga swing from breaking under pressure. Thanks to that, the Yoga4You Aerial Yoga Swing can hold up to 600lbs. The yoga swing seat is wide and large – 59″x98.”
This aerial yoga hammock is versatile and can be used for a variety of exercises such as:
- relax and meditate
- stretch and do yoga poses (both aerial or normal)
- practice aerial acrobatics
This yoga swing is made of breathable parachute nylon fabric. The material itself is soft and skin-friendly. It is very durable, breathable, and feels nice on your skin. The double-layered material is sufficiently durable, with a 550-pound weight capacity. The swing seat’s triple-stitched structure provides greater safety and stability.
Other features of this aerial hammock:
- 3 training belts with 3 foam handles on both sides
- adjustable non-slip grips
Hardware is included in the complete kit: There are two daisy chains provided to minimize the trapeze’s height on the ground, making hanging simple for everyone. You may install and alter the trapeze as needed.
With 2 ceiling hooks & 8 bolts, you can install the yoga swing without additional accessories.
Aerial Yoga Sets without handles
For people who are already experienced with aerial yoga, these sets are perfect. They do not come with foam handles and loops, allowing you to perform more advanced and subtle poses and transitions.
You can get up in the air right out of the box with this Firetoys professional aerial yoga hammock! The product is produced and thoroughly tested in the UK.
The hammock is tied using our specially chosen knots to a pair of stainless steel O rings, meaning you can rig them as either a 1 point or 2 point hammock.
The Firetoys Aerial Yoga hammock is 2.8m wide. That allows you to fully layout flat for an entire meditation session or even get into a full horizontal split. The 6m length will enable you to vary the knots on these to a wide range of elevations, depending on the height of the ceiling.
The material of this aerial yoga hammock has a small amount of stretch (about 10% across its length), which is not a bad thing. It allows the swing to support you through your workout and means that any moves that require a thin band of silk across the waist or under the arms are cushioned.
Weight capacity: 379lbs
This premium aerial silk equipment hammock is made of durable material. It stretches but does not lose shape or fall apart after long-term use. The hammock is easy to wash and super-light. The fabric is breathable and does not stick to your body like other materials, allowing you to exercise in comfort.
The NAGT Premium Aerial Yoga Hammock Set includes:
- 1 Yoga Hammock
- 2 Screw-Lock Carabiners
- 2 extended band
- 2 Hanging disc
- 4 expansion bolts
- 1 Manual
Weight capacity: 350kgs
The silk of this aerial yoga hammock is soft, long-lasting, and smooth to the touch with a beautiful subtle sheen. You may rest in the hammock comfortably since it hugs your body.
This set provides all you need to set up home and enjoy the breathtaking experience of aerial yoga:
- 1 Aerial Hammock
- 2 Daisy Chains
- 1 Figure 8 hook
- 1 swivel
The hammock is 38.71 ft long and 9.3 ft wide.
Look at this beautiful gradient! This material is nylon, which is soft and lightweight and has a weight capacity of 500kgs.
The fabric of this aerial yoga swing is soft, durable, comfortable, and skin-friendly. The material keeps its color even after years of usage. The breathable fabric feels nice on your skin and allows for a relaxing experience.
- 1x 10m Yoga Hammock.
- 2x O-Ring
- 2x daisy chain for extending
- 1 x 360° Rotation Swivel
- 1x Connecting Ring
Aerial Yoga and Science
Aerial yoga has been a point of interest for scientists for quite a while. It is a way to practice yoga in a new, creative manner and expand your view of what is possible even without the help of gravity. Let’s take a closer look at research conducted over the last few years to discover the positive effects aerial yoga has on your body.
An international team of researchers led by biomechanics scientist John Porcari at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse has investigated aerial yoga for several years. The group recently completed its third study on how training with a hammock affects strength, power, and muscle activation.
“What we’re finding is that aerial yoga itself is causing muscles to work differently,” says Porcari, who presented the findings at the American College of Sports Medicine conference in San Diego earlier this month. He hopes the research will lead to evidence-based training guidelines for health professionals working with aerial yoga.
The hammock’s effects are similar to those seen when using sports equipment such as Swiss balls, BOSU trainers, and even walking on sand, Porcari says. These situations reduce the force produced by the muscles compared with regular walking or weight-bearing activities like running or jumping.
The findings suggest that many of the postures in aerial yoga may be easier than their ground-based counterparts, Porcari says.
“You do still work your muscles, and you just reduce the amount of force that they need to produce,” he says. “There’s less gravitational disturbance acting on the muscles and joints, so it makes postures easier.”
But this reduction can be a good thing.
“[The hammock] may make you feel like you can do more postures than you normally would, which could lead to overuse injuries,” explains Porcari.
Porcari’s team recruited eight healthy women aged 18–40 years with little or no yoga experience for its latest study. It assessed the women’s balance, dynamic muscle strength, and muscle activation in both aerial and ground-based poses. The balance tests involved swaying side to side while standing on a force plate inside a fabric hammock. Postures included triangle pose, mountain pose, downward dog, and a standing forward bend.
The team found that aerial yoga was easier to perform than the ground-based version of each posture. But despite performing the poses more easily, there were no differences in muscle activation between aerial and regular yoga. The results suggest it takes a similar amount of effort to maintain your balance and body control in both types of yoga.
However, says Porcari, “over time, you might have less muscle fatigue when doing aerial compared with the floor”.
Porcari’s team is also analyzing video footage of participants performing common poses in aerial and ground-based yoga to identify muscles that are being used more or less in each type of yoga.
Once completed, these findings will help guide future training programs designed to build strength and reduce injury risk.
Still, it is hard to ignore the silky fabric of your hammock or its potential to make you feel physically stronger. And Porcari says there are also biomechanical reasons why the hammock might reduce the load on muscles and joints.
“The postures themselves are different in aerial yoga because the body position changes due to gravity,” he explains.
For example, in a downward dog, the body naturally sags into a hammock-like position that is easier to support than if you were standing on solid ground. The same may apply for forwarding bends where the hammock’s fabric reduces tension or enhances comfort compared with fixed structures like doorframes or the ground itself.
So should you pack your hammock into your yoga bag? Porcari says that might not be a bad idea. “I would certainly recommend aerial yoga as just one type of yoga to try,” he says, adding that it’s especially useful for people with injuries or who are rehabilitating from surgery. “It may be beneficial for people with arthritis because it’s less weight-bearing.”
But there are still many unanswered questions, including whether aerial yoga offers any unique health benefits compared with ground-based yoga. “That’s something we’re planning to look at now,” says Porcari.
History of aerial yoga
Although the word “aerial” in this context is relatively new, hanging upside down has been practiced for centuries as part of different cultures worldwide. For example, by reading your books on yoga, you can’t help but stumble upon references to how yoga dates back as far as 3000 BC, where Buddhist monks used to exercise this way. Even then, it was believed that holding poses for more extended periods would yield more significant benefits as an increasing supply of blood and nutrients is sent to the brain. More recently, inverted yoga poses can be traced back to at least the 1640s when Mughal emperors ruled Northern India.
The first known hammocks were made from bark or leaves, and it is from here the idea of using a hammock as a means of exercising has emerged. Yogis used to practice yoga in a standing position to avoid touching the ground with their feet.
The idea of hanging upside down to perform yoga poses was introduced by Paul Brunton – a British philosopher who traveled the world in the early 20th century. He lived with Hindu mystics and talked about his experiences as A hermit in the Himalayas.
The book was published in 1934 – sixteen years before yoga pioneer BKS Iyengar first experimented with using gravity boots for inverted poses. It is also worth mentioning that at this time, there were also men who had invented their own equipment for hanging upside down.
The history of aerial yoga does not stop here! It was only in the late 1990s when our story became more colorful. It was in 1998 when Madonna introduced her Reebok yoga line that she promoted inverted poses done with the help of a pole.
Aerial yoga is not to be confused with aerial silks, an art form that uses long fabric strips to create stunning artistic performances – one of which was performed by Madonna back in 2006 during the Confessions Tour routines. The two are very different, yet both have earned their place among other artistic disciplines such as circus arts.
The history of aerial yoga is part of a much larger story that stretches back thousands of years. It aims to bring people together to share their knowledge and help us improve our lives.
Aerial Yoga Benefits: How Can Aerial Yoga Help Me?
When it comes to your health, there are so many different ways to benefit from aerial yoga. By combining exercises with inverted poses, you will improve your spatial orientation while challenging your core and working with all body parts.
What’s more is that there are two ways in which you can practice aerial yoga: a solo routine or a partnered routine! While it may sound rather daring to do aerial yoga on your own, it is more beneficial if you are on your own since there are no distractions.
On the other hand, practicing aerial yoga with a partner has its benefits too! While some may find having an extra person in the room distracting at first, this added support will help you feel more comfortable while you try new moves. Furthermore, it is excellent for working out with your significant other or if you are simply looking to spend more time together.
To sum things up, aerial yoga cannot only be used as a way of relaxing after a stressful day at work but also as an opportunity to socialize and get in shape!