IF there’s one thing the roller coaster ride that was 2020 taught us, it’s that sometimes turning your world upside down isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We’ve been given the opportunity to become more flexible with work, we’ve started to prioritise our health more than ever and we’ve managed to adapt to new ideas around fitness and exercise (even if it is within the close confines of our own bedrooms).
Maybe the blood-rush of a 180° flip was just what I needed to wriggle out of a rut and change my perspective? I decided to give aerial yoga a try.
Aerial yoga instructor, Pilates instructor and dancer Marisa Smuts explains the very recent origins of this form of exercise. ‘One of the earliest records I’ve found of aerial yoga is in New York,’ she says. ‘Christopher Harrison, a gymnast, Broadway dancer and choreographer from the 90s who infused elements of yoga, Pilates, dance, and aerial acrobatics using hammocks, was a pioneer.’
Marisa’s been a dancer her whole life, so after acquiring her teaching qualification in Pilates, aerial yoga seemed like the next thing to master. ‘What I loved about aerial fitness was how challenging it was, and how satisfying it was when you learned to do a move that you never thought you could do! It allows you to be creative and really challenge yourself.’
The challenge of aerial yoga is something you won’t necessarily find in other forms of exercise because it’s unique in three aspects: the support, safety, and strength in suspension.
While it may seem risky doing somersaults like a circus acrobat, the hammocks actually provide a comforting reinforcement and depth that you wouldn’t have if you were limited to the usual mat on the floor. When at least a part of your body is suspended, you have no limit as to how far you can stretch, working your body deeper than ever before.
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