A mix of aerial arts, classic yoga, and principles from several other domains, AntiGravity Yoga is a hot new form of yoga practice as well as artistic performance. Those interested in a unique yoga experience or seeking relief from chronic back problems might enjoy this type of yoga. Currently only taught in a few studios worldwide, the concept of this aerial brand of yoga is spreading. Teachers are earning certification and bringing it to new yoga centers each year.
Roots of AntiGravity Yoga
The concept of AntiGravity was created in 1990 by Christopher Harrison when he founded his dance troupe, AntiGravity, in New York City. At the time, the focus was on impressive performances. With the advent of the aerial art evolving into a type of yoga practice, the benefits of suspension are becoming more popular. Harrison combined the knowledge of his BFA in dance, his study of kinesiology, and his accomplishments as a Broadway dancer to create a type of exercise that produces amazing fitness results while being a lot of fun. In addition, the therapeutic value of aerial yoga makes it attractive to many more people.
Harrison developed a unique type of yoga inspired by the equipment he used with his dance troupe, namely, a hammock. This hammock suspends the dancer or yogi in the air. For performance purposes, the hammock helps the performer achieve impressive feats; for yoga purposes, the hammock allows the practitioner to perform supported backbends and inversions that decompress the spine, open the chest, strengthen the core, and promote relaxation, relieving stress. The physical and mental benefits of this type of yoga are often felt immediately
This special type of yoga is only taught in select studios where teachers have completed specific AntiGravity teacher training. While the principles of yoga are present in AntiGravity Yoga, the physical practice is very different from more traditional and more common types of yoga. Aerial yoga also has special safety considerations since students are suspended in the air, often upside down, for the majority of the 90-minute class.
Students can attend aerial classes for many different reasons. AntiGravity is a type of yoga that:
- Is a fun alternative to traditional yoga classes. For daily practitioners, variety in class types is often welcome.
- Is athletic and produces excellent physical results. Building muscles and becoming more flexible are inherent results of the class.
- Offers challenges to accomplished athletes. While anyone can attend the class, those with considerable athletic ability will experience new challenges with this type of yoga.
- Has therapeutic benefits. As hinted at with the name, aerial yoga fights the effects of gravity. Modern daily life has adults bent forward and hunched over much of the day; AntiGravity Yoga compensates for this posture and its effects with inversions and backbends.
- Feels more like play than exercise. For those who cannot seem to make themselves stick with a weekly gym schedule, aerial yoga may be the answer to this problem since it seems more like playing on a jungle gym than running on a treadmill.
The number of studios offering aerial yoga classes is still relatively few. Classes can be found in the following U.S. cities, as well as in a few international locations:
- New York City: Om Factory Yoga Center and Crunch Fitness
- San Francisco: Crunch Fitness
- Los Angeles: Crunch Fitness
- Orlando: AntiGravity Training Center at Orlando Sports Center
- Miami: Crunch Fitness
- Chicago: Crunch Fitness
- Long Hill Township, New Jersey: Core Connection Studio
- Albuquerque: Exotica in Motion
- Salt Lake City: Imagination Place
Expect new locations to pop up as more certified instructors and studios start offering AntiGravity classes. Check the AntiGravity Yoga website for the most current list of class locations.
As more people make a commitment to regular exercise, and yoga becomes even more popular than it is today, expect aerial yoga to be featured in increasing numbers of yoga, fitness, and artistic centers. For yogis looking for a new class type, this is a fun one to try. For instructors looking for a cool new certification, check out this yoga and fitness craze and considering joining in the movement.