Lifestyle

Genevieve Vieira
2 minute read
2 Nov 2013
7:00 am

Anti-Gravity Yoga: View exercise from a new perspectiVe

Genevieve Vieira

Exercise is a weird and wonderful thing. Just as there are different types of personalities in the world, there too are various forms of keeping fit.

Typically, the four basic categories of physical activity are divided into endurance, strength, balance and flexibility, which each hold a variable level of appeal for different people.

Fitness trainers are constantly tweaking exercise programmes to improve and offer new and interesting ways of keeping in shape. As someone who tends towards endurance activities those that involve cardio and are known to get the heart rate up I need a challenge to make a workout session worthwhile. I require something that will get the blood pumping and yoga had never ticked that box; it’s exercise without effort.

In my line of work, however, I am always trying new things. Granted, everything needs to be given a fair chance before dismissing it based on preconceived ideas. Walking into an anti-gravity yoga class, also known as aerial yoga, you may think you’ve just stepped foot into the circus.

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Think Cirque du Soleil with people suspended from lycra hammocks, hanging upside down and attempting various twists and turns, with position names such as The Mosquito, The Vampire or The Monkey. This was the challenge I was looking for. Far from the common yoga practices, Hatha, Bikram or Iyengar, anti-gravity presented something enticing. The fabric swings hanging from the ceiling were adjusted to hip height and the class was underway.

It took a couple of minutes to get comfortable and trust that you weren’t about to fall flat on your face, but the feeling of weightlessness was an instant charm. In no time, the entire class was hanging upside down, legs wrapped around the fabric and blood rushing to the head. The first inversion already gets your blood flowing – who needs cardio?

It was liberating at first, but an extended period of inversion resulted in some serious muscular cramps in the legs. People weren’t just hanging around like fools; they were getting a decent workout. And to think this was just the intermediate class…

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Using your own body strength to pull yourself back up, and with fear of falling as suitable motivation, this workout is a real confidence booster. For someone who can barely touch their toes, I was twisting my body into shapes I never knew were possible. Imagining a trapeze artist suspended in the air: this sort of yoga allows you to feel like a kid again, playing on the jungle gym and unaware that human beings can not actually fly.

Although a relatively low-intensity workout, the moves are challenging and will leave you feeling stretched and energised. Anti-gravity yoga classes are not widely offered in South Africa yet, so if you get the opportunity to try one of these classes, do.