This week's feature
This week I got to try something new and exciting: Aerial Yoga.
The yoga studio Yoga Factory in Hellerup, just north of Copenhagen city, offers aerial classes several times per week as well as hatha, astanga, vinyasa and mediation variations.
My lovely friend, Suzaan, and I went together to try the class for the first time. We were there 15 minutes before the class to make sure we got registered and changed in good time. The studio itself is nicely decorated, clean and with lots of natural light. We were greeted by a very friendly and smiley yoga instructor named Julie Sichlau. She spoke fantastic English and was very approachable and enthusiatic about her class.
Suzaan and I found 2 spots/hammocks in the front of the class and rolled out our mats. The studio also has mats you can borrow, but we had brought our own. The instructor, Julie, then asked who was new and went through some few basic good-to-know info and also adjusted the hammock height for those whose hammock was either too long or short. She then guided the hour-long class in English through a series of flows, some included the hammock and some without.
I realized that I was initially quite afraid of falling from the hammock, but quickly realized that it was both sturdy enough to carry my weight and that as long as I followed Julie's instructions, I couldn't go wrong. Some of the core exercises were similar to a TRX class - we did planks and pikes, for example. The flow that included these core exercises also incorporated downward-facing dogs with one leg up in the hammock which not only added the challenge of balancing but also thoroughly worked your upper-body.
My favorite positions during the class were the ones where we were suspended in the air, hanging from the hammock (like in the picture). It was scary at first to just let go and allow yourself to just hang there, but once you do let go, it's fantastic! I could feel my spine being elongated just by gravity alone. I did feel a bit dizzy once I came up from the upside-down positions, but Julie also asks you to do it slowly and then rest in a bent-over position before moving on to the next flow.
When you hang from hammock, as a first-timer, you do feel some pain in your hips from the hammock material tightening around you to support your weight. It isn't too painful, it just takes some getting used to. I didn't find it too uncomfortable actually, but perhaps I have some good "padding" around my hips. :-)
One of the unique highlights of the class was the Shavasana in the hammock. Shavasana takes place at the end of the yoga class. You usually lie on your back on your mat, focus on your breath and attempt to reach a state of total relaxation. This usually lasts anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes with or without some relaxing background music. In aerial yoga you lie in your hammock with your arms at either side or gently crossed over your heart. I found it so relaxing and it felt so natural to me. I loved it!
I've gone to yoga on and off for over 10 years now and have tried different variations. I found Aerial Yoga to be a challenging and exciting variation that I think could be a great way to add another dimension to your practice. I think that even a yoga beginner can do it and feel like they get a lot out of it.
The wonderful thing about yoga is that it isn't a competition, you set the tempo by listening to your body and do the best you can. With a great instuctor like Julie keeping a watchful eye, you can relax into your poses and give it your best.
I would definitely go back to Yoga Factory due to the lovely surroundings, the wonderful instructor and the fantastic practice of Aerial Yoga.