I always wanted to be Tarzan. Though he always struck me as a bit of a blockhead, I envied his abilities to swiftly navigate the jungle as fast as the birds and look pretty cool doing it. I was once convinced to try pole-vaulting under the pretense that I would feel Tarzan-ish. Not true, and I actually hurt my back in the process. Alas, I arrived at Anti-Gravity Yoga.
Anti-Gravity Yoga is basically a combination of regular yoga and aerial acrobatics and performed in a cushy hammock that hangs securely from the ceiling. Since I can’t do the full experience justice, here is the complete spiritual description from my yoga studio, OmFactory:
AntiGravity Yoga helps students realign their body and spirit with the tool of gravity that serves to achieve physical and mental decompression. You will learn to fly, hold and balance in challenging yoga poses longer, gain better kinesthetic awareness, build cardiovascular and muscular strength, become more flexible, increase joint mobility, decompress the vertebrae of the spine without strain and utilize the agility you’ve gained from yoga to play with gravity!
The first thing I noticed during class was flood of childish enthusiasm that I used to get when swinging or doing anything on the playground to tempt the fates of gravity. Once we started our inversions, however, that enthusiasm slowed a bit because instead of crashing into a sea of pebbles on a playground, I’d be crashing into a hardwood floor if I performed it incorrectly. Luckily, there was no crashing involved as the instructors are incredibly detailed in their explanations of how to set up each pose. From there, it was just a matter of trusting myself to let go and the physics of the situation.
The main goal of this practice, I was told, is to decompress. Decompression is something I thought I did in regular yoga or over a glass of wine, not hanging upside down. Like many things, I was wrong. The sensation of freely hanging and letting every vertebrae fall towards the earth was pretty relaxing, and my neck hasn’t popped once today, whereas usually it’s like bubble wrap in the morning. Yoga teachers are always preaching the benefits inversions provide for muscle strengthening and the circulatory system, but a lesser known benefit is that inversions simply make you happy! And one more thing— you leave class a quarter-inch taller from decompressing. (I wish I was a bit taller, I wish I was a baller…)
If you’ve ever had aspirations of joining the circus, then AntiGravity Yoga is definitely for you. For me, it falls somewhere between yoga and meditation and though some say it is a full-body workout, there are other higher-intensity classes out there. The full-body workout bit seems to be working for people like Pink though, who showcased her buff body using an AntiGravity routine at the Grammys, which was put together by the same people who designed the class at OmFactory NYC. Here is her performance if you missed it, which carries the same fundamentals learned in class, just a little closer to the earth and sans water.