5 Surprising Benefits Of Aerial Yoga

Guest blog by Yogini, Michaela Ravasio from California.

When you think of aerial silks, what first comes to mind?

For many, it’s something along the lines of an elegant dancer twirling through the sky, performing superhuman feats of strength and grace… No wonder so many are intimidated by aerial yoga!

But if you’ve never tried, it’s probably not what you think.

Just like mat yoga, the practice meets your body right where you are, only taking you as deep as you’re ready to go. And when you are ready, the silk is an infinite tool for exploration and growth.

Most importantly, aerial yoga is really fun, and can alter your perspective in ways you might not have known possible…

Here’s how:

1. Deepen your mat practice

In aerial yoga, we practice the same ancient system of yogic postures, but from a new perspective of fluidity and freedom through space. This brings awareness to deeper, more dynamic elements of our bodies we might never have noticed before. When we return to the mat, this newfound body awareness permeates every shape, and in our life off the mat as well. Subtle refinements open the body to a greater free flow of prana, or life force, increasing overall health, vitality, and energy levels.

2. Out of your head, into your heart

In this practice there is no space for the demands of the linear thinking mind, we naturally shift into the intuitive feeling space of our hearts. This internal center is what we are constantly tapping into and strengthening through the holistic science of yoga, which includes not just asana (physical practice) but meditation, pranayama (breathing practices), ethics, philosophy, a whole system of living to continually transform and thrive. The practice redirects the natural flow of our minds from seeking outward satisfaction toward inward tranquility and inquiry. In aerial yoga, we intuitively begin to explore this seat of our hearts, as the strict regimented lines of the mat dissolve.

3. Balancing effort and ease

Aerial Yoga is a constant dance of embracing the fluidity and ease the silk inspires, while still maintaining a safe container of core control to explore from. In this way we get to know the deeper energetic pathways of strength that run through our whole body, instead of overexerting the grosser, more surface level muscle groups. The silk sheds light on where we tend to dump or cheat in a pose, and how we can safely redistribute this energy for holistic strength and growth. Over time we cultivate a more intuitive sense of balance between strength and flexibility, effort and ease, from the inside out. This again subtly permeates our lives off the mat as well.

4. Flip it upside down

Inversions are powerful preventative medicine for aiding circulation and flow throughout the whole body. Aerial yoga empowers us to invert with little to no muscular exertion, so the spine can fully decompress and reset. Think of the exertion required to practice headstand or downward facing dog on your mat. On the silks, we can experience the same benefits of the inversion, but in a state of total relaxation and releasing fully into it. Then when we want to bring the strength back in, the prop allows us to explore more challenging balancing postures safely, right at our edge.

5. Deep Tissue Release

Aerial yoga is similar to the release of deep tissue massage, as the pressure of the silk works into deeper layers of connective tissue running throughout the whole body. This sensation can be quite intense when you first begin practicing. Most of us have many layers of built-up scar tissue, or fascia, to work through and open up, especially in sensitive areas such as our hips.

Using supplemental props such as blankets to pad sensitive areas is a great place to start. With continued practice, you might find that what was once a sensitive or painful layer is suddenly comfortable and open. With practice we can find freedom and space in our body we didn’t even know was possible.

Aerial yoga is an endlessly expansive practice—one can never master it fully, there is always space for new growth and insight. It should always be learned from an experienced teacher in a safe and comfortable setting. Just like mat yoga, deep conscious breathing is the key to experiencing the full benefits of each shape and creating space in the body from the inside out. Always drink plenty of water after practice, to flush out the internal release and stay hydrated and grounded.

This final video is a compilation of some free flowing practice. The possibilities of aerial are infinite!