Downward Dog takes on a whole new meaning when you’re suspended above the floor by a silk hammock. AntiGravity Yoga was developed by gymnast and dancer Christopher Harrison as a way to heal his own body and introduce yogis to a new way of looking at the world. Pondering life while hanging upside down is an experience that might alter your world view, while sculpting some serious muscle.
Christopher Harrison followed up a career as a competitive gymnastic specialist with a stint on Broadway as a dancer. He combined his love of acrobatics and dance and created an aerial performance, which he dubbed AntiGravity in 1991. Just five years later, while performing in India, he fell in love with yoga. That, along with the invention the silk hammock apparatus, allowed him to open his mind to the possibilities of taking a yoga practice off the mat - literally.
What’s In It for You?
AntiGravity Yoga has very similar benefits to regular yoga; but when it comes to taking the pressure off your spine, there’s no comparison. Less compression of your disks means less pain and less potential back trouble as you age. Being suspended above the floor also allows you to find more grace in a pose. That may not be an important component for all yogis, but for those of you who struggle with weight issues or low self-esteem, feeling graceful is a huge draw. Inversions become less scary when you know you won’t fall because you’re supported by the hammock, and the same goes for advanced back bends like Wheel.
What’s Up with Those Poses?
Yes, you have your Down Dog, albeit with a hammock slung across your pelvis, but that’s where the similarities end. Instead, you perform the Skirted Star, the Swoosh, the Swan Dive and Skirted Monkey, among dozens of others new poses. The Washboard Pushups sculpt your core, Plow pose has been renamed Angel Flip and even the Sun Salutations have been re-vamped. Mountain pose is now performed on a slant with the hammock supporting your back ribs, and then instead of folding into Standing Forward Bend, you lean forward into T-Plank pose with a heel raise.
One of the most blissful aspects of any yoga practice is when you take a break during a strenuous routine with Child’s pose or end your class with Savasana. But, imagine being fully enveloped by a blanket of silk that supports you as you gently sway to and fro. Stretching out in the hammock for Cocoon pose is the perfect end to an invigorating, innovative brand of yoga.
Linda Kaban is a certified yoga teacher and professional life coach who specializes in helping people achieve their fitness goals. With a bachelor's degree in the humanities, Kaban has been writing since 1998 and has been published in YOGALife magazine along with other healthy living publications.