You have likely seen the hilarious TV scenes of people trying to exercise while hanging from pieces of fabric. It is called Suspension Yoga, and it’s now being offered at health clubs and specialist studios around the country. I decided to try it out at my local Virgin Active.
WHAT IS SUSPENSION YOGA?
Whether you are an expert yogi or haven’t ever heard of a downward dog, Suspension (or anti-gravity) Yoga accommodates all levels of flexibility and fitness. Suspension Yoga isn’t all about the aesthetic poses that you see on Instagram. Instead, it is a crafted combination of traditional yoga, Pilates, gymnastics and aerial aerobics. This may sound intimidating, but I find that Suspension Yoga isn’t necessarily more ‘difficult’ than traditional yoga. The hammock, which the class is centred around, supports your practice. If you are a beginner, you will find that the hammock helps you to get into a pose. If you are an expert, it allows you to push your practice further by working with gravity to deepen your stretch.
It may take time to get used to the piece of material from which you will dangle. That’s why the first fifteen minutes of the class is spent meditating inside the hammock, doing variants of savasana and the “raindrop”. This allows you to get used to the feeling of being held, while zoning out completely. If you’re still nervous about putting your life in the hands of an oversized scarf, take comfort in the fact that the hammock is made from nylon fibres that can support just under 1000kg of weight. This means it is very unlikely that you will break it, despite your winter gains.
Although I have been practicing traditional yoga for a while, my mind still wanders every now and then. Often, I will glance around the class and compare myself to the expert yogis. Not only is this bad for confidence, but it also goes against the principals of yoga which is to reconnect with yourself. Suspension Yoga forces you to focus purely on your own practice. This is partly because the hammock acts as a visor and partly because the fear of falling preoccupies your mind! Just kidding, it’s not that scary. But at first, the thought of hanging upside-down is a bit daunting. Soon you will realise that the fun-factor of an inversion outweighs the fear factor. It’s liberating. Once you get more confident, you can play around changing between poses.
Transition from the “falling hero” to the “monkey”.
Although I practice yoga frequently, I am not yet at the level where I can do handstands or headstands for a long period of time. Suspension Yoga is a great way to get into gravity-defying poses, so that you can still reap the benefits of full body inversions without straining the upper body. The benefits of inversions are huge, including increased circulation and brain activity, lymphatic drainage and strengthened diaphragm and lungs, to name a few. Besides this, turning upside-down gives you a fresh, creative perspective.
After Suspension Yoga, the aches in my back mysteriously disappear. Hanging freely allows elongation of the spine which eases tension in the back and hip joints. If you’re lucky you may even experience the best back click of your life. The movements and stretches related to Suspension Yoga also aid digestion. As someone who battles with bloating, this is a huge win. Like traditional yoga, suspension yoga also increases flexibility and strength.
Suspension Yoga is something that I will continue to incorporate into my workout routine. Not only does it compliment my traditional yoga practice, but the support of the hammock makes it less intense on the body. This makes it perfect for when I need a bit of a rest. Plus, you get the bonus of playing around with different poses, while feeling as majestic as ever!
WHERE TO FIND SUSPENSION YOGA
Virgin Active clubs which offer Suspension Yoga in Gauteng include Alice Lane (collection club), Menlyn Maine (collection club) and Loftus (health club). In the Western Cape, the Silo District Virgin Active (collection club) offers suspension yoga. There are also a variety of independent yoga studios which offer suspension yoga such as Living Yoga in Craighall and Be In Movement in Bryanston.
Here’s another taste of what’s to come.
(RELATED POST: Virgin Active Gravity HIIT Pilates)
THIS IS NOT A SPONSORED POST