I never knew how relaxing hanging upside down could be until I tried aerial yoga. With the help of a hammock that was suspended from the ceiling, I spent an hour stretching and strengthening the muscles in my arms, legs and core—sometimes while completely off the ground.
The experience was fun and challenging and, thankfully, ended up being a whole lot easier for me than I expected.
I would not describe myself as coordinated, and neither would my loved ones. They routinely laugh at me when I walk into furniture that has been in the same place for years.
I also never have done any yoga, unless you count some of the funny stretches I make up when something hurts after I go for a run.
But I do own several pairs of yoga-type pants—it’s a required part of the weekend uniform if you’re a woman in her 20s—so I tugged them on and headed to the hourlong aerial yoga class at Barre Fly at the Marketplace at Nobles Pond in Jackson Township.
Barre Fly has several yoga-in-the-air options: There’s beginner’s aerial yoga and regular aerial yoga, high-intensity interval training in the hammock, anti-gravity core training and an aerial lyra hoop class that uses a metal hoop that’s hanging from the ceiling.
I took the regular aerial yoga class, which had a mix of first-timers and veterans (who were really flexible and looked like pros). We used the hanging hammocks for support as we held planks and did lunges, and we climbed in them for different kinds of hangs.
My stress started to dissipate, which was a result I hadn’t anticipated.
We hung from our hips, by condensing the hammock into a band and leaning forward into it until our ponytails were sweeping the ground and we could pick up our hands and feet. We hung from our lower backs, bending over backward into the hammock band and wrapping our feet through the part still hanging from the ceiling, so we could rest our arms on the floor.
And then we spread our hammocks out, wrapped ourselves in and hung from our shoulders with our heads pointing to the floor and our feet pointing to the ceiling, like bats. We moved our legs over our heads and out to flip ourselves into different positions.
Throughout the class, our instructor gave step-by-step directions and walked around the studio to make sure we were doing the hangs properly. She also offered modifications for some of the stretches so we could tailor them to our ability levels.
I was able to do everything, but it wasn’t easy. My ankles weren’t always strong enough for me to hold poses without wiggling, and I definitely felt the burn in my legs on some of the stretches.
We ended the class by cocooning ourselves in our hammocks and lying quietly in the dim room while soft music played. I’d started my day before dawn with a run, and the evening yoga session was the first chance I’d had to take a breather. Wrapped in my hammock, I felt a lot better—and not just because my muscles were less tense. My stress started to dissipate, which was a result I hadn’t anticipated.
It’s definitely something I’d do again, though less for the workout and more for the sense of accomplishment and calm.