Aerial Yoga Coming Soon!
That's right! Within the next month, we will begin offering Aerial Yoga classes at Yoga Art Space in addition to all the regular classes you've come to love! Because of that, this week we've decided to share a special blog post talking about the benefits of Aerial Yoga! Aerial yoga is the fusion of traditional yoga movements with modern postures using a silk hammock. Is aerial yoga just another trendy yoga thing? Or can aerial yoga allow us to access a different kind of benefit that isn't as accessible in a regular yoga class? Keep reading to find out!
Because of the support of the hammock against the body, Aerial Yoga can make certain difficult yoga postures such as inversions and heart openers become much more accessible to practitioners. Because of that, Aerial Yoga can allow us to access the unique properties of inversions. Here are a few of my favorite (out of MANY) benefits of inverting:
1) Improves Circulatory System
The circulatory system consists of the heart, the lungs, and all of the vessels in between (including aveoli, arteries, capillaries, and veins) which are responsible for bringing fresh oxygen to the cells of the body and removing waste products such as carbon dioxide.
Inversions help maintain the health of the lungs. This occurs because in our normal upright standing or sitting postures, gravity pulls our fluids downwards and blood thoroughly saturates the lower lungs. The lower lung tissue is thus more compressed than the upper lungs. This means that the air we inhale moves into the more open aveoli of the upper lungs where, unfortunately, there isn't as much blood exchange. This makes the process of respiration relatively inefficient. Unless we actively breathe in very deeply, we do not raise the ratio of air to blood in the lower lungs. However, during inversions, blood is able to surround and profuse the entirety of the lungs, especially the upper (better ventillated) lobes. This ensures more efficient oxygen-to-blood exchange and healthier lung tissue.
Inverting has the additional benefit of giving the heart a chance to rest. About 20% of the blood pumped through the heart goes upward to the brain because the brain needs a constant flow of nutrients and oxygen. As it is harder to pump upward than downward, a great amount of the energy of the heart goes into making sure that the brain gets enough blood. During inversions, the blood pressure differential across the body is reversed and the blood is able to flood to the brain with little work from the heart.
2) Relieves Pain
There is an important truth about back and neck pain that we don't always discuss. There are dozens of pathways that can lead to pain in these areas of the body, but the physical reality is almost always the same. Namely, there is some sort of compression taking place in the discs in between the vertebrae. This compression can cause the bones of the vertebrae to press against one another or it can cause the discs to put pressure on the nerves passing through the area. Due to compression being the cause of the pain, you can try to fix it with means such as massage, medication, and sauna, but through these means, you tend to be only treating the symptoms and not the core of the problem.
Thus, one of the basic advantages of inversions is that it can relieve spinal pain. When we hang down from a hammock, gravity pulls on the spine to allow it to elongate and create more space in the discs. When practiced over time, the spine takes on more of the healthy features such as full and resiliant disc tissue which allows for a complete range of motion.
We remember that things that interfere with spinal health are situations all too common in our society such as sitting all day long in a chair or car, exercising without stretching, a lifetime of poor posture, carrying heavy objects, and wearing certian unsupportive shoes. These are often the roots of the problem. So when we begin inverting, we begin to treat the root of the problem. In so doing, we initiate a true and lasting healing process. The person is able to correct their posture and then as they develop strength in the core and the back (other benefits of aerial yoga!) they are well on their way to a pain free experience.
3) Relieves Insomnia
Not getting the proper amount of sleep quickly begins to eat away at the quality of life, causing irritability, depression, anxiety, and many other health issues. Often times, along with insomnia comes an increase of the tension in the body resulting frequently from increased stress in life. This creates a self-perpetuating cycle where things only seem to be getting worse. Productivity decreases and feelings of hopelessness may ensue.
We remember that the body impacts the person and the person impacts the body. We can use that detail to our advantage. In other words, when we find ways to help the body relax, it naturally follows that the person can begin to take on the relaxation. Interestingly, during inversions, muscle tension is decreased by 35%. Through regular practice, this reduction of muscle tension has been shown to relieve the symptoms of insomnia and even help with depression.
4) Improves the Lymphatic, Endocrine, and Immune Systems.
The work of the lymphatic system is to clear toxins from the tissues. Inversions naturally aid in the circulation of the lymphatic system, helping to drain toxins from the body and move them towards the lymph nodes. As inversions also help promote rapid circulation of lymph through the nodes, the detoxification of the body is able to ensue at an increased rate. This can help reduce conditions of swelling in the legs and can also relieve pressure in vericose veins and hemorroids. The added benefit here is that any detoxification the body can receive will boost the health of the immune system!
Finally, the endocrine system deals with the correct balance of hormones being able to flow throughout the body. Several of the key endocrine glands are found in the brain and in the throat (such as the pituitary glad, the pineal gland, the thyroid gland, the parathyroid gland, and the hypothalamus). In inversions, the blood flow to these areas is increased because blood is able to easily travel in the direction of gravity. With the blood comes oxygen and nutrients that maintain great health through the glands.
These are but a few of the great benefits that are derived from inversions that are accessible in Aerial Yoga. Remember to check out our FAQs on our new Aerial Yoga Page here to learn about what aerial yoga will look like at Yoga Art Space! Also, take a minute to fill out the survey at the bottom to help us determine the optimal aerial yoga schedule for our space!