Frequently Asked Questions about Aerial Yoga

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+ Can I do aerial yoga?

You don’t need to have done either aerial or yoga before to do these classes! Your weight isn't important either - the hammocks are rated to hold up to 500kg.

However, it does help to have enough mobility to be able to stand one one leg and raise the other to just under a 90-degree angle in front of you (you don't have to be able to do this with a straight leg, or be able to hold it there for any amount of time - but we do often stand on one leg and put the other foot in the hammocks, which are approximately hip-height.) If you find yourself hopping about a bit in class while doing this - don't worry! It's totally normal and all part of the process of improving strength and balance.

These classes are NOT a 'feel the burn' type of class. Some of the moves and postures can be challenging (elevated foot planks, anyone...?) but I'll always encourage you to come out of the pose and take a break if you want to. It's better to take things gradually rather than force yourself and risk doing a move with incorrect form that could lead to injury.

Please note that aerial yoga is not suitable for you if you have high or low blood pressure, glaucoma, hernias, osteoporosis, or have recently had surgery or botox.

+ Is there a class for complete beginners? Which class should I do?

Classes for complete beginners will start on 10 September 2018, at 8.30pm. You don't necessarily have to go this class - the other sessions are mixed ability and still very much open to beginners.

However, if you've never done yoga before or if this is the first exercise that you've done in a while, the complete beginners class would be more appropriate for you. These classes will be partly ground-based and partly working with the hammocks, which are rigged lower to the floor. Unlike the other classes, there's no inversions (suspending yourself upside down) and no planks or demanding upper body work.

+ Do you have to be strong / flexible to do aerial yoga?

Nope. That's why you come to the classes in the first place! However, it's worth noticing that if you haven't exercised in a while, you may feel a little achey the day or two after. This is a good sign!

+ What happens during classes?

Mobilisation: Normally we’ll start with gentle mobility exercises to get you slightly warmed up and get all the joints used to moving. It involves dynamic stretching as opposed to passive stretching. Moves here often involve having the fabric looped behind the back and underneath the shoulders to take some of your weight and help with balance. Occasionally we’ll do sun salutation inspired flows that link standing movements together. If you practise yoga already, you’ll already be familiar with the likes of Warrior 2, trikonasana and cat/cow.

Strengthening: Some conditioning and strengthening exercises then follow. While the aerial hammock makes some movements like planks more challenging, squat poses become easier as the hammock can be utilised to maintain balance and an upright torso. There’s absolutely no pressure to do a certain movement if you don’t want to, and I always try and cater them to different levels of strength and mobility.

Inversions: This is the upside down part! We do both backwards (with the hammock wrapped around the back and the top of the thighs) and forwards inversions (you bend through the loop, which is placed just below the hip bones). You might feel slightly bizarre your first time upside down! It’s quite normal - and if you need to come right-way up at any time, please do. Inversions combine both strength and flexibility, which leads nicely into...

Stretching: Stretching is a pretty big part of aerial yoga. Stretching is performed both in the hammock, standing next to the hammock (often with one leg suspended in it), and underneath the hammock, lying or kneeling on the ground. These stretches are more passive, and are held for longer amounts of time than those in the warm up.

Mindfulness/meditation/breathing: You don’t need to be a Buddhist monk, religious or spiritual to get benefits from a bit of mindfulness. And after all the strengthening and lengthening, being able to float in space, fully suspended, just feels marvellous.

+ Is it safe?

The fabric hammocks may look soft and colourful, but the material is made to hold 500kg, and each carabiners and daisy chain, 200kg.

While there's a risk in any physical activity, it's fairly minimal in aerial yoga. The hammocks are not placed very high from the ground, and for new or challenging moves, I'll walk around and spot people to make sure they feel secure and are performing the pose correctly. While we often work with standard yoga mats underfoot, thicker "school PE"-style mats are placed underneath during inversions.

These classes are NOT a 'feel the burn' type of class. Some of the moves and postures can be challenging (elevated foot planks, anyone...?) but I'll always encourage you to come out of the pose and take a break if you want to. It's better to take things gradually rather than force yourself and risk doing a move with incorrect form that could lead to injury.

Aerial Yoga with Ali takes place in the sports hall of Grove Junior School in Harpenden, which was surveyed by structural engineers Austin Trueman in March 2018 and found to be structurally sound.

+ What does it feel like?

That depends what pose you’re in. Lying on your back fully enclosed in the hammock is wonderful because all your weight is supported evenly and the hammock contours to your body.

Other times, you might have the hammock looped round your ankle or wrists. If you’re not used to it, you can feel a bit of pressure - but you’ll be surprised by how quickly you get used to it.

Backwards inversion poses can sometimes be slightly uncomfortable your first few tries owing to the tightness of the fabric round your back. However, often it’s just a matter of finding the best placement of the fabric for your body - and again, it’s something you’ll get accustomed to.

+ What are the benefits of aerial yoga?

See About Aerial Yoga, here.

+ Can I bring my child?

Children aged 14+ can come but only if accompanied by an adult who is also taking part in the class.

+ When are the classes?

Currently 10.30am on Sundays and 7.15pm on Mondays for mixed ability, and 8.30pm for Low and Slow classses. Can't make either one? Get in touch and if there's enough demand, I'll put on more classes.

+ How much are classes?

£15 for a one-off - however, if you want to see the benefits of regular aerial yoga, it's better to purchase a package of either 6 lessons for £75 (which is £12.5 each) or 10 for £120 (£12 each). These don't have an expiry date. Over September, there is a 20% discount on all class packages.

30-minute taster sessions are free!

+ How do I get to the classes?

To get to Grove Junior School, drive all the way up Dark Lane (up the single-track road), and then turn right into the staff car park (the gates will be open). Facing the building, walk right and then take a left turn to get to the entrance.

+ What should I wear to classes?

Something stretchy and comfortable. Leggings are always a good idea. Beware of jogging bottoms that are too baggy as they may bunch up or get caught in the fabric. A tight-fitting top or t-shirt that can be tucked in is recommended - you don't want to be blinded by your own clothing when upside down!