Aerial yoga was developing in the early 2000s. Carmen Curtis began using the aerial hammock as a yoga prop in 2004, then developed the aerial yoga brand, AIReal Yoga in 2009. AIReal Yoga was the first 200 hour aerial yoga teacher training recognized by the Yoga Alliance in the United States in 2014. Michelle Dortignac, created Unnata aerial yoga brand in 2006, using a combination of traditional yoga poses, pilates, and dance with the use of a hammock. Fly Yoga was developed in France in 2009 by Florie Ravinet in collaboration with a physical therapist, and has been "approved by health professionals". AeroYoga was developed around the same time by Rafael Martinez.
Aerial yoga requires a special kind of hammock, a prop designed to support up to 300 kilograms on average. The rig typically consists of support chains, a webbing strap, a silk hammock and carabiners. Two support chains hang from the ceiling to less than one meter above ground level, and the hammock is connected at the height set by the user. There are two styles of installing an aerial yoga hammock, depending on the effects desired: either two anchor points (for more stability) or one anchor point, to give the participant an increased range of motion.
The hammock acts like a swing supporting the hips for forward bends and backbends. Difficult mat-based yoga postures may prove easier to perform through aerial yoga, while the hammock's movement further contributes to adding variety to the aerial workout.
Health benefits claimed
Aerial yoga has not been studied with clinical trials. Anecdotal evidence indicates that by facilitating bending and stretching of the whole body during exercise, muscles and joints will be strengthened and rehabilitated, and the spine decompressed as the body hangs freely. Yoga in general, and aerial yoga in particular is promoted as benefiting emotional, psychological and spiritual health.
Aerial yoga poses include the cross position, leaning back with support just above the waist, arms outspread; the star inversion, the hammock supporting the tailbone with the body bending backwards; and the one-legged king pigeon pose, like the star inversion but with one foot hooked across the front of the hammock. A bound variant has the rear ankle grasped by the hands.
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