Discover the difference between a MAT Yoga Practice and and AERIAL Yoga Practice.
GRAVITY: BENDING TOWARDS THE EARTH
An accumulation of years carrying a heavy backpack and most recently excessive hunching over a computer to complete my graduate degree bring me to a challenged place when it comes to opening the heart, opening my front body and arching my back in convex form.
Laybacks, backbends, and heart openers are transformed in the hammock. The fabric can support the upper back, lower back, and thighs. The lift of the heart happens in a variety of ways, where elevating the body away from the gravitational pull of the Earth is no the primary expression of the posture. Curving down to Earth, invites a larger range of motion in what might otherwise be a strength or muscular challenge.
SPINAL FREEDOM: GOING UPSIDE DOWN
A number of years ago I attended an arm-balancing workshop at the Yoga Journal Conference in Estes Park, Colorado. Hidden in the mystery of going upside down, I discovered that not only arm strength, engagement of the core, and line of sight played a role in inversions, but that open hips and mobility in the torso/ lower body connection improved my chances of lifting my legs above my head. Years later, I am still exploring my capacity to experience the benefits of inverting with the strength and openness I need to remain more than a few moments upside down. As a partner in inversions, the hammock expands my ability to flip my point of reference, to practice arm balances with an aligned spine, and for the benefits of reverse blood flow to take hold for extended periods of time.
Practicing inversions can be an intimidating practice for many. The hammock, as a partner, allows any body type with any physical strength to safely go upside down. The myriad of forward folds and backward inverts lengthen the spine, freeing the vertebrae to realign themselves. The blood flows in a reverse direction re-oxygenating the body with fresh blood and perspective. Whether building and arm balancing practice or introducing the concept in shifted vision, the hammock brings new possibilities to what some might consider a lifetime of practice in strength building. Finding freedom for the spine opens the gateway to therapeutic potential in reducing back inflammation, shifting physiological and psychological aspects of brain function, and in growing taller.
PARTNERSHIP THROUGH MOVEMENT
Partner yoga was introduced to my practice through a Valentine’s day offering at my local studio. The assistance from my partner(s), men and women, throughout the evening awakened my body to its potential in finding depth within my postures and in recognizing the dance between holding, extending, and breathing with others. Too few offerings in this style of practice leave me wanting more, hoping for a teacher assist with every class.
The hammock offers itself up to each student as a personal partner of sorts that will bend, flow, breath, challenge, hold, and move with them as the practice unfolds. Aided by a swivel, for a 360 degree range of motion, the hammock provides assists that uniquely support a student in their individual needs for lengthening, strengthening, and surrender into each posture. Whether with hands wrapped, feet wrapped, or body wrapped, the hammock is anchored in a way to move the body into its potential. Sometimes soft and sometimes stiff, the suspension of the hammock helps move with each breath and body movement.