Just hanging out: mid-air, with the body suspended from a 12-feet-long hammock, yoga becomes much more fun and fluid at Avata Wellness.
Aerial yoga is a hybrid form of yoga that utilises a silk hammock to perform a diverse range of yoga poses. Though a relatively new practice in Nepal, it is quite famous abroad for its health benefits. Wanting to see what the hype was all about, I booked a beginner’s aerial yoga class at Avata Wellness in Baluwatar.
Upon entering the Yogashala, my eyes immediately went to the silk hammocks suspended from the ceiling. There were six of us, complete beginners taking the session. Our instructor, Summit Rana was standing below an aerial hammock in front of us as we placed a yoga mat and took our place below our respective hammocks.
Summit is a certified yoga instructor and corrective exercise specialist with six years of experience with aerial yoga. “Trust your sling and relax,” is all he says before starting with the first pose.
The first pose was called the Half Forward Fold Pose. I stood with the sling in front of me, holding it with my palm. “Take a deep breath and exhale as you bend your upper body while holding the sling,” he showed and we followed. I could feel the stretch in my hamstring, which according to the instructor meant I was doing it right.
After performing some other basic yoga poses including the Lunge and Bridge Pose, it was time for us to fully get on the sling. It did take some effort to sit on the hammock, possibly because of my short height, but our instructor was there to help. After around 20 minutes on the hammock, I started noticing an improvement in my breathing pattern and I no longer struggled to match the ‘inhale and exhale’ instructions. I started getting used to the sling and it took the pressure off my body allowing me to relax and let go.
My personal favourite aerial yoga pose was undoubtedly the Dove Pose. First, we were instructed to sit with our entire lower body inside the sling and keep our knees locked. Then, ensuring that the sling ended at our lower backs, we slowly let our upper bodies bend until our heads almost touched the floor. While doing the pose, Summit shared its health benefits, “This posture is known to allow a deep backbend while simultaneously stretching the shoulders. This pose uses inversion which increases blood flow to the brain, improving mental focus, memory and the state of mind.”
I had a conversation with Summit about what aerial yoga really is and what its health benefits are. “Aerial yoga is simply about defying gravity. We perform the same poses as traditional yoga but using a silk hammock for extra support,” he says. In the traditional form of yoga, it can be challenging to perform poses like headstands that require more strength. However, in aerial yoga, the hammock provides support to your body, making it easier to do such poses. This allows you to go deeper into the stretches and helps maintain stability throughout the yoga flow.
“Aerial yoga is the best when it comes to spinal decompression,” he says. Today, many people struggle with maintaining a good posture from working on a computer or looking at the phone all day. But the anti-gravity nature of aerial yoga allows you to lengthen and decompress your spine with ease.
Aerial yoga was unlike anything I had done before. Being suspended above the ground for an hour-long yoga session was totally out of my comfort zone. But after a few poses, I began enjoying letting go of my body weight. It was a fun, transformative experience and one that I would definitely try again.
Avata Wellness organises aerial yoga workshops twice a week. Each session is priced at Rs. 1000. Though people of all age groups can participate, it should be avoided by those who have recently undergone a surgery or those with knee or abdomen injury as well as by pregnant women.
Avata Wellness Centre
Phone no: 01-4446358