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FEATURES – I exhale deeply and feel myself moving deep inside my body as I wrap my arms around the nylon straps and rest my head on my arms. I have been hanging upside down for several minutes in the yoga trapeze. Now, I am taking a rest to let my body adjust to being upright again.
Yoga has been part of my life for the past 15 years, and trapeze yoga has been part of that practice for the past three. Yoga enthusiasts often indulge in yoga toys to enhance their practice; the yoga trapeze has been just such an indulgence for me.
Why would a normal person want to do aerial yoga? I hear an assortment of different rationales: “It looks hard.” “I don’t do regular yoga.” “I’m not that strong.” “I’m not that flexible.” The list of reasons not to try aerial yoga seems endless and can easily discourage someone from experiencing this fun and beneficial practice.
However, consider the history of aerial yoga and its benefits before writing off this practice. Aerial yoga, like traditional floor yoga, has a long history.
In the 1970s, BKS Iyengar, the founder of his own style of yoga, was notorious for his use of yoga props and for fashioning ropes into slings that used yoga mats and blankets. Yoga props are traditionally simple devices, such as blocks, belts or blankets, that help clients to improve their experience of the practice, but the yoga sling is a prop of another sort and can be used as an assist to clients.
The physical and mental benefits of inversions are numerous. Hanging upside down is, in many ways, a method to gaining a new perspective. Research shows that inversion:
- Increases neurotransmission.
- Improves mood and focus.
- Raises the level of self-confidence.
- Improves energy levels and restful sleep.
- Increases muscle strength, flexibility and tension.
- Aids in joint and immune health.
- Reduces nerve pressure, realigns the spine, rehydrates spinal discs and improves traction between the vertebrae.
- Decreases the symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse and pelvic pain.
- Improves digestion.
- Increases lymphatic drainage.
- Improves blood circulation.
Hanging upside down for even a brief period increases blood flow, leading to a healthy, natural glow after a workout.
A good instructor will modify an aerial yoga workout to fit the needs of each client and provide assistance on the trapeze while confidence is gained. The perception that aerial yoga is difficult needs to be dispelled. You have been adventurous enough to sign up for spin class, boot camp, Zumba dance and plyometrics. Isn’t it time you found out how aerial fitness might benefit your wellness routine?
To learn more about aerial yoga or to join an aerial yoga class, please call Unity Health & Wellness at 435-703-6600 or visit 258 W. State St. in Hurricane.
Written by KERRYANN HUMPHREY, OTR / L, IBCLC, owner of Unity Health & Wellness.
This article was originally published in the Jan / Feb. 2022 issue of St. George Health and Wellness magazine.
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