Antigravity Yoga for body and mind
A style of yoga growing in popularity in Australia is “antigravity yoga.” My first experience of this yoga style was in Byron Bay. I was a part of an all girls group called, Getaway Girls (1)
Based in Byron Bay, Getaway Girls are all about health, fitness, and relaxation. The perfect combination for me and a big plus it was based on one of the most beautiful coastal towns in Australia.
Our group of girls met at the shed at Shooter’s pass in Byron’s hinterland. Kaylene Napoli, owner of Getaway Girls assured us we were about to “experience something very unique.”
Antigravity yoga is designed to increase health and physical agility, while having fun.
Key to Antigravity yoga is the antigravity hammock, made from a soft, stretchy, silky fabric connected to the ceiling or overhead beam. The fabric provides a soft support. Advocates suggest this style of exercise provides relief to any compressed joints and helps with re-aligning the body.
Our instructor, Arianne Schreiber describes this style of yoga as “a combination of dance, pilates and calisthenics techniques.”
We line up in front of individual red hammocks, unsure of what to do next. “For today I will show you some basic uses of the hammock, nothing too complicated,” says Arianne.
There was a collective sigh of relief.
Arianne gently coaches the Getaway Girls through the first moves. Initially it feels strange and a little awkward using the fabric as a soft trapeze to support your limbs. After a few attempts, (accompanied by plenty of giggles and a few curses) under Arianne’s expert and patient guidance, we master simple inversions. Our confidence grows and we try more complicated poses. It becomes less daunting and is actually fun. At varying times we alternate using the hammock like a swing, then a trapeze.
When was the last time you found yourself suspended upside down?
In Byron Bay’s Shed, as an adult, I’m swinging inverted style. The blood rush to the head felt quite intense but Arianne reassured the group, “there are health benefits to hanging upside down and your blood flowing in the opposite direction.”
My head felt heavy but following a few spins, twists and stretches effectively supported by the soft silk I gave in to the sheer bliss of floating with a gentle body stretch.
“Aerial yoga is the closest thing to flying.” says Jayne Bernasconi, teacher of aerial dance at Towson University, Baltimore, USA. (3)
“By bringing the yoga philosophy into the aerial world, it helps people better understand their bodies,” says Jayne. “It also helps people get over their inhibitions, like getting their feet off the ground.”
One of our Getaway Girls, Megan had a lamindectomy (back surgery) some years ago. She was understandably hesitant about getting her feet off the ground. With gentle encouragement from Arianne and our group support, Megan overcame her fear. By conquering her fears and trusting her teacher Megan experienced something she never thought she would do again – hang upside down.
We were sweating by the end of the class. Rock star Pink’s trainer Dreya Weber says antigravity yoga is a great method to achieving fitness. “Antigravity yoga is a gentler approach to aerials, where you can do all the moves, without needing a tremendous amount of upper body strength.” (4)
The class was over. I didn’t want to leave my silk cocoon.
We felt an incredible sense of achievement. The sensation of floating is fun and relaxing at the same time. This is something we should all try. But be prepared to step outside of your yoga comfort zone.
what we can work up to!
(1) Getaway Girls http://www.getawaygirls.com.au/
(2) Pink photo courtesy: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
(3) Jayne Bernasconi – Aerial Yoga- Baltimore, USA
(4) Pink’s youtube video training aerial dance