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Have you heard of aerial yoga? It’s the technique of using a hammock to deepen your yoga practice. While there are many different types of aerial yoga ranging from circus-like to fitness and dance-based styles, there is one constant in aerial yoga practice: the hammock.
The hammock is a prop for your practice, like a block or a strap. If you can’t reach an asana in traditional yoga, the hammock will hold you, so you can do it in the air. If you’re already an efficient yogi, the hammock can deepen your practice and make postures more challenging. In AIReal Yoga™ we use the hammock for alignment; not so we can do that pretty yoga pose, but so we can do it properly and safely for our body. When we’re aligned, we are more efficient. We can do more, using less energy. The hammock is also a spotting device for inversions, helping decompress the spine and relieve pain and swelling.
There is also an element of fun to it. You’re lifted in the air, floating, feeling free and light, helping you deepen your connection to the mind, body and spirit. Savasana is also done in the hammock. Being wrapped in silk, and held, feeling safe and supported, is pure bliss.
While many first come to aerial yoga classes just for fun, they leave surprised by how good they feel: pain-free and happy. Because the hammock allows you to decompress the spine and safely do inversions aerial yogis see incredible benefits like increasing circulation, decreasing inflammation and pain, anti-aging, increasing the level of serotonin in the brain, decreasing stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Inversions calm the mind, allowing you to think more clearly, see yourself more clearly and help you focus.
Before you start your aerial yoga practice, you need understand the differences between the classes that you take, just like in traditional yoga. Get to know the brands and different styles of aerial yoga and what they offer. It’s not just the teachers that are different, the teaching differs as well. Because there are aerial yoga classes for all levels and styles of yoga, it is important to take classes that are right for you, your goals, and your skill level.
When looking for an aerial yoga class, be sure that the teacher is certified in both yoga and aerial yoga. I also recommend checking that they were certified by a reputable brand and have their 200-hour certification from a Yoga Alliance-accredited school.
Be sure to verify that the aerial certification they took involved training in safety and rigging. After all, the hammock is your lifeline and your teacher needs to manage and properly set this prop for you.
Even though there are many types of aerial yoga, your aerial yoga practice is about you. Once you find your studio and first class, prepare to relax and soar!
If you’ve ever taken a hot yoga class, you know it’s always going to be one thing—outrageously hot. Not the “let’s hang by the pool and get that sun-kissed glow” kind of hot either. I’m talking that “I can't believe I have this much sweat in my body” and “I may or may not pass out” kind of hot. It’s nothing to mess around with, and after a year or so of not being able to go, it’s easy to forget just how serious that heat can be.
To get the maximum enjoyment and benefits out of your heated yoga classes, you need to prepare yourself before and take care of yourself afterward. Luckily, I’ve been taking some classes (sweating enough for the both of us) and I’ve listed my five favorite must-dos to help you readjust to your heated classes and get back to the hot yoga summer that we all want.
Heated classes are difficult in nature. The normal difficulty of regular poses is mixed in with the added challenges of sweating and dealing with the humidity and the heat (at times, I’ve seen the thermostat climb to 108 degrees—yikes!). Depending on what type of yoga class you’re taking (sculpt, Bikram, power vinyasa), the difficulty level and temperature are going to vary. It’s also important to remember that each person in the room is going to practice in a way that’s unique to them. Hours slept, hydration levels, food intake, and different lifestyles are all contributing factors that make our practices different. What you practice on your mat is your own––trust your body and only do what feels right to you. And remember, it’s okay to take breaks!
The rise in temperature mixed in with the humidity that we all know and love creates the perfect recipe for sweating—like A LOT. You go into a heated class dry and come out feeling like you just took a dip in the pool. Before heated classes, I had no idea it was physically possible to sweat that much. If you’re going to a heated class, especially after a long break, it’s easy to forget just how much you might sweat. Is it possible to lose that much water if you haven’t consumed it first? Trust me, going into your heated class super hydrated is going to make a world of difference and help you feel good throughout your practice. And don’t forget to take some sips of H2O while you’re practicing!
Heated classes are challenging, but I can’t stop going. Nothing quite compares to overcoming the challenge— and experiencing the cleanse my body feels after I’m done. It’s the perfect blend of hard and rewarding, but I couldn’t do it if my body wasn’t properly nourished. On the days I know I have a heated class booked; I like to make sure I am eating right. I make sure to take my vitamins and fuel my body with fruits, vegetables, and my favorite superfood shake. I hold off on food about an hour before my practice, so I feel comfortable. After the class, I like to replenish with a big protein shake (boosted with collagen to aid with muscle recovery and skin elasticity). There is no one-way path for properly nourishing your body but making sure you’re fueled for the challenge of a heated class is essential for getting the most out of your practice and feeling good on and off your mat.
Increasing and maintaining your water intake on the days you take a heated class is important, but sometimes you need something a little extra. If you’re sweating that much, you’re basically an athlete (at least in my book) and if you’re performing like a rockstar yogi, you need to hydrate like one as well. That means replenishing those lost electrolytes. Reward yourself and your body for the hard work and treat yourself to your favorite drink. I switch off between electrolyte-boosting drinks and coconut water depending on what I’m in the mood for that day. Adding these to my post-practice self-care routine has helped me feel more hydrated after and ready to take on the world again after especially sweaty classes.
Usually, a yoga mat is all you need for your practice––but heated classes are a different ballgame. I’ve gone with just a mat, and I’ve slipped all over the place. Let me tell you, there’s nothing worse than having sweat drip all over the place while you’re trying to hold a pose that makes you grip your mat for dear life (never again). Make sure you bring a towel to place over your mat, this will help with support and grip. Bringing a smaller towel is also a good idea. You can use the smaller towel to dry yourself off during water breaks or whenever you’re feeling just a bit too sweaty. This is a small step that makes a world of difference during those super-hot classes.
So, there you have it. Five of my favorite tips (more like lifesavers) that have helped me readjust to those heated classes I love so much. Getting back into it is a challenge for us all, so know you’re not alone. No matter where you’re at in your practice, remember to be kind and gentle to yourself––celebrating your health and your body’s ability to do what you love. We’re all just getting back out there, together.
Ready to jump back into your hot yoga routine? Browse Mindbody to find the perfect class for you.
While you’re at it, check out some Intro Offers near you that can help you get back to your cadence of hot yoga classes.