Aerial yoga: Benefits and beginner poses for a swinging start

A woman reaches her head back in the King Pigeon pose with her right leg straight out on the hammock and her left leg bent over the aerial silk.

Today, there are more types of yoga than jelly bean flavours.

It’s true.

People can practise downward dog with actual fluff balls in a puppy yoga class, sign up for a Hot yoga retreat and sweat buckets or even plunge into a mental pool of peace on a forest bathing journey.

The options are endless.

But a new style of yoga has emerged that is taking the practice to new heights, Aerial yoga.

Fusing yoga with acrobatics and some pretty hard-core fitness, this transformative style has gained serious traction with aerial yoga retreats popping up around the world.

And with numerous remarkable health benefits, it’s no wonder why.

If hanging upside down and performing gravity-defying poses sounds like your cup of tea, then you’ll want to stick around to learn about its limitless benefits and a few poses even the most uncoordinated yogis can master.

What is Aerial yoga?

Aerial yoga is quite a mixed pot.

It merges traditional yoga postures or asanas with aerial skills to improve balance, strength and flexibility.

Instead of a mat, aerial yoga classes typically make use of a yoga hammock, sling or trapeze which is suspended from the ceiling. 

A yoga swing or hammock supports your body weight and aids balance, allowing you to perform physically-challenging poses like headstands much easier.

Although primarily performed in the air, many beginner classes will also make use of a mat to ground the body and stabilise balance. 

Performing calming movements in mid-air with flowing fabric has also proven to be incredibly soothing and restorative, relieving muscle and joint pressure.

How do you start Aerial yoga?

There’s no hard and fast way to become an aerial yoga pro, but attending an aerial yoga retreat or class is a great way to get started.

During your first aerial yoga class, you’ll start on the ground and use the yoga swing or trapeze to perform a few basic asanas.

As you advance and learn new movements, you may experience a bit of motion sickness and feel off-balance, but that’s only to be expected when you’re twisting and flipping about in the air.

The main thing to remember is to breathe and have fun, you’re flying after all! 

Is Aerial yoga a good workout?

You bet it is!

Much like Hot yoga, aerial yoga classes offer a fantastic workout that helps yogis build strength and burn body fat.

Classes assist with core strength and work on various parts of the body, improving overall muscle mass and helping us shed those weekend calories.

But a gruelling workout is just one great benefit of Aerial yoga.

Benefits of Aerial yoga

Aerial classes are all-round great for your health.

The unique style is even being used as a form of yoga therapy, helping many overcome muscle and joint pain and improve their emotional wellbeing.

Improves flexibility

With a yoga hammock, yogis can push much deeper into challenging poses and stretch parts of their body that they normally couldn’t on a mat.

Although a full-body workout, aerial classes allow yogis to go at their own pace and spend more time stretching tight areas of the body.

Enhances core strength

During an aerial class, your core is almost permanently engaged to maintain stability on slippery aerial silks.

As a result, aerial fitness is one of the best ab workouts you can get, helping you tone and strengthen major core muscles.

With a strong core, you’ll also experience less back pain and tension in your neck and shoulders.

Promotes circulation

Using breathing techniques and the natural yoga flow we see in Vinyasa classes, Aerial yoga can promote circulation throughout the entire body.

As yogis flip from one movement to the next, an influx of oxygen travels through the blood improving joint recovery and the health of your heart.

Bolster mental health

Lastly, Aerial yoga is the best way to increase your body’s daily dose of serotonin.

Unlike normal yoga classes, beginners can perform challenging yoga poses with the support of a sling. This is a great confidence and mood booster.

An aerial class is also an excellent way to push yourself mentally and perform new movements that you would otherwise never dare to try.

Can you practise Aerial yoga at home?

Can a fish swim?

Yes, of course you can practise Aerial yoga at home!

Although it might seem like a tricky practice, with the right equipment and tips, first-timers can be swinging like trapeze artists.

Before you get started on a few basic aerial poses, you’ll first need to get your hands on some essential yoga gear:

  1. Form-fitting yoga clothes
  2. A yoga hammock or sling
  3. Daisy chains
  4. Carabiners
  5. Sturdy ceiling hook
  6. Yoga mat for additional support

Best Aerial yoga poses for beginners

The best thing about Aerial yoga is that it’s for everyone, even beginners.

You don’t need to be able to do the splits or balance on your head. All you need is a quiet spot, your gear and an open mind.

Once you’ve got your set-up complete, you can give these easy aerial poses a try.

1. Chair Pose

An elderly woman sits in the chair pose with a yoga sling wrapped around her upper back to support her body weight.

The chair pose is a simple asana that can help relieve tension in the lower back and reduce stress.

Start by looping your arms through the hammock so that the fabric sits firmly under your shoulders.

Then, take a deep breath in and gently bend your knees until you are in a squat-like position.

Rest your palms on your thighs or straighten them overhead in the upward salute pose.

As you breathe in and out, feel the tension in your back release and your spine lengthen.

2. Aerial lunge

A young woman lunges forward with one leg in a yoga hammock and arms straight in front of her while practising aerial yoga at home.

The aerial lunge is one of our favourite beginner-friendly poses and an excellent way to stretch out your tight glutes and build leg strength.

Standing in front of your hammock, place one foot in the loop and ground the other into the mat.

Once stable, take a deep breath in and slowly start to extend your body forward and your leg back until you are in the warrior 3 pose.

If you feel unsteady, rest your arms on the mat or bend your leg slightly.

3. Aerial Downward Dog

A man and a woman perform the downward dog pose on a yoga mat while in a yoga hammock.For those with joint issues, the downward dog can be quite a challenge, but with the help of a sling, you can give your body a complete stretch without straining your arms or wrists.

With your body in front of the hammock, hinge at the hips and place your hands on your mat so that the fabric is secure around your pelvic area.

Walk your fingertips in front of your body and relax your head between your arms.

Take a few breaths here, kneading your feet into the mat and giving your hamstrings, lower back and glutes a good stretch.

4. Aerial Plank

A woman holds a plank pose on a yoga mat with her feet resting in a yoga hammock.

Anyone that says a minute is quick has never done a plank, but with your aerial yoga hammock, it’ll be less of a struggle. 

Start on all fours with wrists underneath the shoulders and knees in line with the hips.

When you’re ready, put one foot in the silk, and then the other.

Feel your core engage and focus on your breathing.

You can stay here, or if you’d like to take it up a notch, slowly bring your legs forward and push your backside up towards the sky until your lower body is in line with your shoulders.

Gently return to plank and repeat.

If this is too challenging, you can alternate leg raises in your sling or simply hold in the plank position.

5. Half Boat Pose

A man leans back on a yoga hammock with arms holding onto each side in the aerial half boat pose.

The half boat pose is great fun and a fantastic way to get used to hanging from aerial silks.

Standing in front of your hammock with your hands on either side of the swing, lean into the hammock so that the silk begins to support your body weight.

Holding onto the fabric, lean back and straighten your legs out in front of you, as if you’re swinging.

Hold for a couple of deep breaths, feeling your shoulders and lower back stretch.

Once you’ve got the hang of it, it might be time to take it a step further.

Aerial yoga studios and retreats are a great way to take your skills to the next level and master more advanced moves.

With Basubu’s bespoke online platform, you can browse a wide range of yoga retreats from all over the world and experience a new yoga style like never before.

Begin your journey today with Basubu.