Imagine dangling four feet in the air on a flimsy silk-like fabric as an instructor says “Okay, now fall forward.” Everyone around me dives right in as I second guess the intentions of the exercise (I am a compulsive over-analyzer). As the Antigravity Yoga hammock is tightly wrapped around legs, I let go and plunge to what seems to be a concussion waiting to happen. Surprisingly, my head didn’t even touch the hardwood floor of the yoga classroom, rather my frizzy hair grazing the ground. Sweet baby Jesus! Who would have thought Antigravity Yoga would be this thrilling? So here I am, a freelancer for a local magazine, covering this class as my first ever assignment. (Some of this post is what I wrote in the final article).
Out of the six Yogi’s in the class, I am by far the curviest. One of my thighs is bigger than two of the instructor’s, who is a petite, understated guy who comes alive while flipping in the hammock and teaching the class. Plastered on a mirrored wall of the classroom the words, “Monitor your Resistance, Trust Your Hammock” are the inspiration to successfully completing an AntiGravity Yoga class at Raffa Yoga Studios (in Cranston, R.I.). This unique yoga practice has been blossoming over the past decade and is considered the quintessential leader in aerial yoga.
There is no yoga mat needed for this class. Instead, a structural fabric is suspended from the ceiling which is connected from two overhead points. Each hammock is measured to your height to ensure your safety. For a girl like me, I thought there was no way it could hold me up. Skeptical at first, the fabric is a lot stronger than it looks; in fact, each hammock holds up to 2,500 pounds.
After lighting incense to add to the calming environment, the fun commences. Being upside down was the most relaxing part of the class. The flow of blood rushing to your head creates a zen-like mental state allowing one to become aligned with mind and body.
The newest position, called the Chandelier, was created by Christopher Harrison, the creator of Antigravity yoga, for pop star Pink. She used the position in her 2010 Grammy Awards performance. I watched her performance before coming to the class and holy shit was it intimidating. There was no way I could do that, I thought, even without the water pouring down on me like she did. (Check out the performance in the link below)
The position involves a moderate amount of stretching. In order to do the position, the gathered hammock is securely placed above the tailbone with one leg wrapped around the fabric, while upside down. The other leg is bent behind the body while both arms reach and grab the foot. Although it is challenging, the pose pushes the body’s flexibility threshold while stretching the hamstrings and glutes. Holy crampage! My hip abductors got a serious workout. I never realized how little I used those muscles until then.
Needless to say, if you are thinking about taking the class, do it. It has my stamp of approval. And for the bustier babes, don’t be afraid. However, there were some positions that were KILLING my thighs because it was wrapped so tight. I would say a thinner person would have an easier time contorting their bodies but overall, a great workout and fun experience. I felt like I was in Cirque Du Coleil. I have been trying to get in shape, especially with the new year approaching because if I don’t have a resolution, I’ll feel like a useless human being. At least I can sound ambitious by having some sort of fitness goal. Anyway, the lame, repetitive classes at my gym are losing my interest so this alternative workout is the way to go. Let’s just hope I stick with it.