There are different types of yoga. Some promote meditation, while others combine both meditation and exercise. One particular type that is trending lately is aerial yoga. Aerial yoga uses hammocks attached to a ceiling -- allowing practitioners to swing and perform different yoga positions that are difficult to do on a mat. In addition, being suspended in a hammock increases their range of motion and allows for deeper and more intricate poses.
A study made by Dr. Lance Dalleck of Western Colorado University (WCU), together with the American Council of Exercise, found that aerial yoga can be an alternative to traditional exercise. It offers the same benefit as more traditional types of exercise such as running and walking. To prove this, he studied the effect of aerial yoga on the cardiovascular health of women ages 18 to 45. During the six-week study, women had to do three 50-minute sessions of aerial yoga per week. Dalleck found that by the end of six weeks, women had reduced their risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) by 10 percent. Moreover, they lost around 2.5 pounds, two percent of body fat, and one inch off their waistline. Overall fitness also improved by 11 percent, and the participants had reduced their blood pressure.
While traditional yoga has been known to relive back problems, aerial yoga offers the same benefits -- even more. Being suspended in a hammock allows a person to hang freely, easing the tension in the spinal cord and hip joints. Furthermore, hanging upside down can potentially ease back pain. Suspension in the air can also relieve pressure in the bones and muscles. In turn, this strengthens the core and allows greater flexibility.
Like traditional yoga, aerial yoga can help relieve stress and improve focus. Hanging upside down forces people to be more aware of their body, the situation, and the surroundings. It also decreases stress hormones and increases heart rate variability, which measures stress tolerance. (Related: Yoga Takes Away Stress, Pounds, Toxins, Cholesterol and Cravings.)
In an interview in the Phnom Penh Post, Seng Bopha, a yoga instructor in Aerial BhaVana studio in Cambodia, said that the most important thing when it comes to aerial yoga is meditation.
"When we are in the air, we can float in our thoughts, especially when our body is in an upside down position and hangs from the hammock," she said of the experience. "It is very calming."
When done right, aerial yoga is a safe form of exercise. Yoga instructors are trained to teach how to perform aerial poses correctly. Moreover, hammocks are suspended no greater than three feet and can be adjusted accordingly. Foam wedges and other props are used to protect wrists and ankles from scuffs and prevent from bending too much.
MindBodyScience.news has more on yoga and how it helps with stress management.