Anti-gravity yoga, also called aerial yoga, is a hybrid regimen comprising traditional yoga postures and Pilates that has witnessed a growing number of takers in recent times. From Hollywood celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow and Natalie Portman to Bollywood divas like Jacqueline Fernandez, Sara Ali Khan, Alia Bhatt, Elli AvRam and Malaika Arora, many fitness buffs have taken up this tough regimen on a hammock.

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The benefits

According to experts, it helps decompress and stretch the spine and improve posture. This, in turn, helps get rid of back and spinal problems and promotes great health. Tota Roy Chowdhury, a known fitness buff, says, “I’ve done aerial yoga and it really helps decompress the spine. It also improves body balance. It’s good to stay fit, release stress and increase flexibility.”

Sitting in a wrong position for hours while working or standing for hours at a stretch has an adverse effect on our body. In aerial yoga, one has to maintain posture, even upside down, on a hammock, which is completely safe and can support up to 200 kilos.

Manisha Shroff, who owns an anti-gravity yoga centre, says, “We spend a lot of time compressing our backs, either by sitting or performing tasks that reduce the space between the spinal disks. In anti-gravity yoga, the inversion helps realign the vertebrae to relieve tension in the spine.”

Says Neeraj Surana, a strength and conditioning trainer, “This form of exercise helps your body to explore its range. As your body is suspended, it helps in blood circulation and also tones up muscles and improves flexibility.”


Who can do it?

According to Manisha, anyone between 16 and 50 years can do it. “Anti-gravity yoga makes for a great full-body workout and can also be used as an alternative to strength training. People with back problems and those who are advised to stay away from strenuous exercises can also try it,” she says, adding, “But people with high blood pressure and heart-related issues should avoid it.”

Madhusatta Chaudhury, a yoga trainer who has been doing aerial yoga for a year now, says, “One starts engaging the core immediately while doing aerial yoga. A strong and stable core promotes better balance and posture and reduces back pain. It is also one of the most effective abs workouts. Even the thrill of doing it is high. In an hour, one turns into an acrobat from an absolute beginner. If you have been dreaming of doing a headstand or a handstand, aerial yoga makes it possible. Intermediate to advanced aerial can also be excellent cardio. The core engagement, pull up into a vertical sit-up, assisted toe touch, back bending, swinging to and fro and flips are excellent for strength building and calorie burning. You do a vigorous one-hour workout with your knees, back, shoulders, fully supported by the hammock.”


How difficult is it?

“Though it might seem a bit intimidating at first, aerial yoga is for everyone. The hammock acts as the main prop to hold on to for balance, refine postures, assist in alignment, deepen stretches and safely invert without injuring the spine,” says Madhusatta.

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