Ready for take-off! Aerial Yoga at AYI®
On 9 July 2016 it will finally be the big day: we will not only celebrate the AYI® summer party but also offer you the opportunity to practice yoga, try new things, experiment, have fun, enjoy delicious culinary highlights.... At the same time, the new colorful yoga hammocks will be set up for the first time in the AYI® practice room. With their help, we will "take off" together, discover unimagined heights and experience the ease and lightness of Aerial Yoga.
What is Aerial Yoga?
Aerial Yoga is a new and innovative invention: with the help of a yoga hammock made of a slightly stretchable silk cloth, exercises from acrobatics, dance, yoga and Pilates will be combined in a "dancing" fashion and put into practice. The result is a play with gravity, release and letting one's own body weight be born by the yoga hammock. In the process, the hammock always supports you, increases strength and flexibility, relieves your back, is a lot of fun and boosts vitality. In other words, it is on the one hand a piece of equipment in the classical sense, but on the other hand also a tool that helps you release and relax.
Where does the idea come from?
This new trend originally developed in the USA: inspired by B.K.S. Iyengar, US-American Christopher Harrison, was on the lookout for a new tool and thus started doing dance exercises with a piece of cloth hanging from the ceiling. To some, this idea may be familiar from the circus, where acrobats use aerial silks to float down from the dome just to raise themselves again to great heights. This approach is adopted and modified in Aerial Yoga with the silk cloth now serving as a kind of hammock fixed to the ceiling on both ends. Thanks to gravity, the loop created in this way allows you to perform a number of yoga positions - backbends in particular - with much more ease than on the ground. Moreover, it opens up exciting new perspectives.
From the US to Ulm – Aerial Yoga at the AYI® Institute
So the trend from the US has by now also reached AYI® and our two teachers Ingrid are Madeleine burning to get going. For Ingrid, it is especially the aspect of winding down that is important to her in her teaching. Having lived in Ulm for 7 years, she has been teaching Asthanga Yoga here for almost five years by now. In her free time, the qualified teacher for vocational schools is into stand up paddling, aerial silks and handstand acrobatics. In her upcoming sabbatical, she wants to dedicate her time, next to traveling, to all that. As well as to teaching yoga, of course. Therefore, she will soon be teaching Aerial Yoga together with Madeleine, who will assist her and take over classes when Ingrid is away.
A playful discovery of the dance with the cloth
Madeleine was also the one who initiated the whole thing. Already back in Frankfurt, where she was living at that time, she had discovered the yoga hammock for herself in a gym and spontaneously decided: "This is something I want to have at home as well!" After moving to Ulm, there was no longer any use for the hammock, mainly because of the lack of ceiling hook. Until the by now yoga teacher in training found a new home both in Ashtanga practice and the AYI® Ulm, which made the start in the new town a lot smoother. Moreover, this "second home" also offered plenty of space and high ceilings... Initially just for fun, Madeline put up the hammock in the AYI® practice room and started playing and experimenting with it.
A new concept is found
Inspired by Madeleine, all of a sudden more and more yogis fancied playing and experimenting with gravity with what was at that point in time the only yoga hammock available. This development, in turn, was received with great enthusiasm by Ingrid, who had for quite some time participated in workshops and trainings on Aerial Yoga. The idea for a new project thus was born. What followed was a conversation with Melanie and Ronald on whether the two could imagine integrating Aerial Yoga into AYI® and the new project was ready to become a reality.
Aerial Yoga at AYI® – what are the next steps?
After the kick-off at the summer party on 9 July 2016, AYI® Aerial Yoga will be offered on a regular basis on:
Thursdays from 18:00 to 19:30 with Madeleine and Ingrid. A first small "trial flying" will take place on Thursday, 7 July 2016 at 18:00
All in all, there are 17 yoga hammocks, which can be used on a drop-in basis, i.e. you do not have to sign up beforehand. We will regularly inform you about additional sessions on the weekend on our homepage. For hygienic reasons and to protect your own skin, we ask you to wear long pants and a t-shirt and to take off any jewellery and watches.
For whom is Aerial Yoga suited? In principle, anybody can do Aerial Yoga. There is only need for caution in case of problems with the inner ear, increased intraocular pressure, pregnancy or heart conditions.
AYI® Aerial - What precisely is that?
AYI® editor Sandra asks Ingrid and Madeleine a few questions on AYI® Aerial Yoga.
Sandra: When I practice Aerial Yoga, do I need less strength than for the regular asanas?
Madeleine: No, not really, you basically need a different kind of strength, for instance in your fingers so as to hold on to the cloth. The same holds true for the strength in your arms.
Ingrid: It really depends. In Aerial Yoga you can experience highly strengthening but also very calm and relaxing moments. Here at Ulm, we will focus on practicing the asansas in a rather dance-inspired and acrobatic fashion.
Sandra: What are the benefits of Aerial Yoga?
Ingrid: Well, for one thing, the pressure of the cloth stimulates the lymph flow around the pelvis and the abdominal exercises have a positive effect on lymph drainage. Moreover, the exercises are like a massage of the connective tissue with the stretching and slight pressure ultimately working like fascial training. In addition to that, you release the strain in your neck and work with your own body weight. In doing so, the yoga hammock gives you a feeling of safety and trust and even touches your inner core. The partner exercises will likewise contribute to your feeling of being supported and safe as the one doing the exercises. Finally, we also strengthen and stretch individual muscle groups, in particular the back, the abdominals and the thighs. Practice with the yoga hammock can either complement your Ashtanga practice or be performed completely on its own.
Madeleine: What is more, playing with the yoga hammock simply makes you feel good. What's definitely important, though, is that you drink enough after Aerial Yoga because this helps to stimulate lymphatic circulation.
Sandra: Will you use any additional tools?
Madeleine: Yes, maybe some music for relaxation. ;-).
Sandra: Are there any contraindications to keep in mind?
Ingrid: Yes, you should be careful when you experience dizziness since the backbends may under certain circumstances provoke nausea. At the same time, though, you need to practice a couple of times until the body has adapted to the feeling of hovering in the air. Sometimes you also get some smaller bruises from swinging in the yoga hammock. The only contraindications with which you should not practice Aerial Yoga are heart conditions and an increased intraocular pressure.
Sandra: What are the next steps at AYI® with regard to Aerial Yoga?
Ingrid: In the future, we will also offer workshops next to our regular classes. What is more, Ronald has asked me to develop an AYI® Aerial Yoga Basic Series. It will be inspired by the AYI® Innovation Series and for instance also start with Surya Namaskara A and B. We aim for the exercises to be performed in the same count . In addition, bandhas, dristis and the Ujjayi breath will play the same prominent role. And who knows, maybe there will at some point even be a AYI® Aerial practice card. ;-)
Madeleine: The great thing is that with AYI® Aerial you can try exercises which you do not master on the mat yet or which you want to improve. In AYI® Aerial Yoga gravity works for you. In the beginning, this might be a bit unfamiliar but we can work on individual asanas in a flowing and playful way. This is an awesome experience, great fun and certainly addictive!
Sandra: Which asanas in particular can I practice in Aerial Yoga?
Madeleine: Mainly backbends and inversions such as the "waterfall", Triconasana, handstand variations or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, i.e. exercises which you might not have mastered on the mat yet. But which suddenly work in the yoga hammock.
Ingrid: Of course, for most classical asanas, there is also a version in the yoga hammock. In addition you can tackle exercises which require quite some strength such as chin-ups. What is also a possible option are dynamic and dance-inspired motion sequences, probably even an asana choregraphy. At the end of the practice, the yoga hammock also helps you relax in the air.
Aerial Yoga – a further innovation at AYI®
With Aerial Yoga there will thus be yet another innovative way to practice at AYI® . Of course, Dr. Ronald Steiner was among the first to try and he was truly fascinated by it: this kind of body tension and body awareness is something completely new, he says. You feel so light and the exercises work so effortlessly. He is very pleased that with Ingrid, a sports person through and through, and Madeleine, two yoginis have been found with whom we can explore new avenues. The aim clearly is to offer Aerial Yoga as a kind of complement to Ashtanga Yoga. At the same time, however, especially for new yogis, this innovative yoga style inspired by AYInnovation® can also be practiced as a completely new approach offered in addition to Ashtanga Yoga.
We hope that you'll be having fun and are looking forward to taking off together!