5 Ways Aerial Yoga Can Lead to Gains in Your Mat Practice

If you’re looking for a new way to take your mat practice to the next level, consider aerial yoga. Aerial yoga gives you the space needed to challenge balance and strength in a new way.  The fabric is used as a prop, just like a strap or block, and will help you gain the skills needed to make progress on your yogic journey.  Read on for five ways aerial yoga can lead to gains in your mat practice.

5. Gain Confidence in Your Own Ability

One of the first things you’ll learn in an Aerial Basics class are the various locks which keep you safe and secure in your hammock.  Even with this new knowledge, it will still take time until you feel comfortable in the fabric and begin to trust your new skills. Many new students are amazed at their ability to get into a pose for the first time and it’s always a great moment to see people go from “I could never do that” to “I can’t believe I’m doing it!”  This newfound trust and confidence in your own abilities carries over to the mat practice, too.  Soon you’ll have the confidence to attempt (and nail!l) difficult poses, like Scale or Bird of Paradise.

4. Improved Balance

Aerial yoga is a major balance challenge. Tree pose, for example, can be done standing entirely in the hammock. While you’re completely secure in your locks, the hammock still moves around and can throw you off center.  This will challenge your balance in new ways. As you become more stable in moving, aerial variations of poses, you’ll notice greater stability in the mat version, too.

3. Gain Strength for Better Chaturangas

During an aerial yoga class, you’ll use the fabric to explore different variations of exercises like fabric-assisted pull-ups and planks.  Other aerial movements will require you to pull yourself up to get into the full expression of the pose.  All of this work will challenge your muscles in a new way and help you to become stronger overall.  After a few aerial yoga classes, you’ll notice mat postures like downward-facing dog and chataranga are easier to maintain.

2. Difficult Poses are More Accessible

Handstand, Scorpion, and Standing Splits are all difficult postures that become more accessible in aerial yoga. All of these poses are done with the hammock secured around the waist and legs.  Through this secure lock, you are able to enter the pose with the knowledge that the hammock will catch you and stop you from falling in all directions.  By practicing the postures in this way, you are able to build the foundation needed to nail the pose on your mat.

1. Reminds You Not to Take Yourself Too Seriously

Aerial yoga classes carry a different vibe then mat yoga classes. In a mat class, the room is laser-focused on the flow and yogis rarely make a sound outside of the Ujayi breath. This isn’t the case in an aerial yoga class where sounds include cheering (as other students support your efforts to get into a challenging pose for the first time) and giggling (as you find joy in movements you probably haven’t done since you were a kid).  We can bring this lighter energy back to our mat to remind ourselves that it’s ok if we aren’t where we want to be today.  Each day is different and we improve our lives and our practice when we remember to honor where we are in each moment.

 If you want to try aerial yoga and live in the Denver area, try out Unlimited Yoga partner, Atherial Fitness! Their supportive community and amazing instructors earned them the Best Place to Learn to Fly award from Westword this year. As an added bonus, all Unlimited Yoga subscribers get $12 classes at Atherial (40% off!). Use the code “UYFALL2018” when you sign up for class to get your discount. 

About the author: Jen Callahan is a Denver-based yoga instructor, Marketing Manager for Atherial Fitness, and aerial aficionada.  She currently teaches yoga to climbers at the Denver Bouldering Club and will soon be certified to teach aerial yoga. Connect with her on Instagram at @jendoesaerial