Crash Course: The Aerial Basics class at Spark Yoga is a 75-minute introduction to the fundamentals of aerial yoga. It’s a required class for anyone walking through the door for the first time. The class focuses a lot of attention on learning to get in and out of the hammock, and also how to master some basic yoga moves while in the silks. But don’t think that means it’s a walk in the park – aerial yoga requires a lot of upper body and core strength. For a full list of class times, check out the Spark Yoga schedule.
[line] [left]where: 2201 N Pershing Dr. | Arlington
bring: open mind
perks: very small class size, free parking, locker service, showers, changing room
sweat score: 6 out of 10[/left][right]wear: solid colored clothing with no “dizzying” patterns and no zippers
cost: $30 drop-in [/right][line]
I have never been one of those people who walked out of a yoga class (hot or not), and said, “wow that was a good workout.” Rather, “I pick things up, I put them down” has generally governed my fitness methodology. That isn’t to say that yoga isn’t challenging. I am made of corners, not curves, and frankly look like Frankenstein’s monster when performing any of the standard yoga poses. Additionally, the energy flow bit is difficult for me to wrap my head around as I am more accustomed to friends of mine speculating on my lack of manliness because of failure to complete a lift.
Sufficed to say, aerial yoga at Spark Yoga was certainly a new horizon.
The studio itself is worth noting, because it does separate itself from other studios I’ve visited. Most of the yoga studios don’t have much beyond the space itself. Spark Yoga is different in that it includes FREE 4 hour parking, FREE locker service, showers and changing rooms.
Aerial yoga focuses on alignment and core stability, and has been recommended by many as a way of dealing with lower back issues. It uses a large, silk hammock suspended from the ceiling a few feet above the ground, lowered or raised depending on your hip height. Making sure that the hammock is adjusted properly prevents injury and provides you with the appropriate amount of assistance or resistance (depending on the pose or stretch).
It’s been popularized by many celebrities, most notably Pink, whose 2010 Grammy performance of Glitter in the Air utilized a lot of aerial yoga. Stop reading if you think that I did any of that.
First timers must take the Spark Aerial Yoga Basics Class, which teaches the fundamentals. It’s not complicated, but there are some important things about getting into the hammock, its placement on your body, and how to stand up, that are key to understanding how aerial yoga works. As I am a first timer, I took the basics class on a Sunday afternoon at 4 PM.
We started the class with the fundamentals: getting in and out of the hammock, some beginner poses, and a meditation session. Once inside the hammock, you’re basically in this silk cocoon suspended from the ceiling. [pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]I am made of corners, not curves, and frankly look like Frankenstein’s monster when performing any of the standard yoga poses.[/pullquote]As I noted before, the energy and flow piece is hard for me to partake, but once inside the hammock, I found it very relaxing and easy to detach from my surroundings. Most of the yoga classes I have taken lack the weightlessness of the hammock, and it’s easy to notice others around you, making it more difficult to focus on the meditation portion of the class.
I assumed that using the hammock would assist me with the poses, making them easier.
Spoiler alert: it didn’t. Yoga poses are difficult enough, but doing them while suspended in the hammock makes them even harder because of how much you are required to balance your own weight.
What was really unexpected is the focus on upper body and grip strength. Look forward to a lot of pull ups in and out of the hammock. In my own training, I have used towels to perform pull ups as a way of developing grip strength. Gripping handfuls of the hammock in “true grip” provided the same resistance.
While I didn’t get to look as graceful as Pink, I was able to do some cool things with the hammock. Poses like swan allow you recruit a lot of your core, and I saw a lot of similarities between that and some of the static holds that are being used in advanced calisthenics classes.
The hammock allows you to progress at your own pace, recruiting as much or as little assistance as possible. For me, I could definitely use the hammock to work on my front and back levers.
So if a lot of advanced yoga poses are somewhat intimidating to you, you might want to give aerial yoga a try. It allows you to focus on the basic poses while trying other, more advanced moves, and developing the “kinesthetic awareness” needed to complete more difficult moves on your own. On top of all of that, it looks really good on Instagram.