Exercise routines are becoming shorter, yet more effective.
If you like the combination of yoga, Pilates and gymnastics, you should try suspension yoga, also known as anti-gravity yoga.
This is a hot new fitness trend that people are exploring. As its names suggests, this form of yoga is done upside down.
This workout was invented by aerial performer Christopher Harrison - a former gymnast and Broadway choreographer.
It involves performing a series of exercises inspired by yoga, pilates, callisthenics and aerial acrobatics in a hammock-like apparatus, in order to achieve a total-body workout.
We caught up with Virgin Active’s master suspension yoga trainer, Geraldine Anderson, to find out about this new trend.
What is suspension yoga?
Suspension is an acrobatic performance troupe that was founded in New York City in 1990 by Christopher Harrison.
The technique of working on hammock (fabric) is mostly used by circus performers, athletes and dancers. The hammock is a great workout for the core and upper body, and it allows a deeper stretch.
The technique was created by gymnasts for the sake of exploring the air and has been modified and enhanced to cater for the everyday athlete by reinventing techniques from yoga, dance, pilates and callisthenics.
What is the difference between “Aerial Yoga” and “Suspension Yoga”?
Aerial Yoga has many more yoga postures during the class. Here you are supported in your hammock and you get a deep stretch and are more “chilled” or relaxed.
Suspension Yoga, on the other hand is a full body workout.
Combining yoga, stretch, fitness, strength and pilates while using a hammock.
We bring in the body and the mind aspect. We start off with warm-up, cardio, strength, core, stretch, hanging upside down and end with relaxation.
What are the benefits of suspension yoga?
It increases the body’s flexibility, and it also releases tension in the body. It increases kinesthetic (tactile) awareness and increases joint mobility. Low impact cardio exercise improves confidence and helps people overcomes fear. It improves mindfulness. It improves lymphatic, digestive and circulatory systems which helps digestive problems.
What to expect at a suspension yoga class?
Walking out with a feeling of “you have worked hard as well as relaxed.”
Expect to hang upside down. Feel like a circus performer.
What is a class like? Are there warm-ups and cool-downs? Is it fast or slow?
It focuses on breathing, calming people down, getting them comfortable with the hammock.
Warm up back, legs, chest, arms; and core movements.
Cardio varies... depending on the instructor, but generally is about getting the heart rate up, strength, core, stretch yoga-based postures.
How popular is this yoga class among yogis?
It is popular among most yogis, however our “purists” or traditionalists are not as keen.
A lot of yogis find that they are able to go deeper into postures as they are supported. They also build incredible strength that complements their normal yoga practice.
I’m a beginner. May I try it?
Of course. We are trained to accommodate and assist everyone.
I’m advanced. Will it be boring?
No, there are so many aspects to focus on... for example as an instructor you can base your class on a specific part of the body.
Is this something that should be done indoors or outdoors? Is there a benefit to one or the other?
Definitely indoors from a safety point of view. One needs to have a proper rig or support system to carry the weight of members and a hammock.
Any precautions for suspension yoga?
There are definite limits. This is not for you if you are pregnant, have glaucoma or have recently had surgery or you have heart issues and high blood pressure.
If you have any of the following seek advice from a doctor before attending a session: head injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, severe arthritis, a recent stroke, cerebral sclerosis and if you had botox in the past 24 hours.