Though traditional yoga is an ancient practice, aerial yoga has only been around since the early 1990s and really only gained significant traction over the last 20 years.
This out-of-the-box workout takes place in a sling-like hammock that supports your full body weight, allowing you to master poses far beyond what your abilities would normally be when supporting your own body weight.
At first, aerial yoga was only available in big cities like New York or Los Angeles, but its popularity has spread, blossoming into well over 100 aerial yoga studios in the United States alone and many more around the world.
You can even do aerial yoga at home with some basic equipment!
Aerial yoga is a beautiful and ethereal workout, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it is not a challenging one.
In fact, ACE (American Council on Exercise) researchers discovered that a 50-minute aerial yoga session burns an average of 320 calories.
Their research also concluded that three of these classes a week can boost VO2 max (a measure of fitness) by as much as 10 percent in just one month, making aerial yoga a true cardio workout that also includes strength training and stretching.
The style of aerial yoga you choose will determine whether it is more rigorous or tantric in nature, but either way, the question remains:
Does aerial yoga actually get results?
Here are some of the results you’ll see and feel after a month or more of aerial yoga workouts:
- Muscle toning/sculpting and weight loss
- Relief from joint and back pain
- Improved circulation
- Improved mood and confidence
- Increased range of motion and flexibility
- Improved core strength
- You’ll have fun!
Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect.
Muscle Toning/Sculpting and Weight Loss
Aerial yoga is a full-body workout that strengthens and tones every muscle in your body, particularly your stomach, arms, and booty!
While the hammock is supportive, you will have to engage your muscles deeply to secure and hold poses.
The connective tissue and muscle fibers get longer, and the resistance created in holding a pose causes tension that develops the muscles and helps you maintain a toned appearance.
You’ll feel the difference in this type of muscle development within the first few weeks.
The deep muscle work begins first, and then from the inside out, you’ll notice the weight loss.
It will more likely be noticeable in inches and shape rather than in pounds, but with just 3 classes a week, you will see the results in the first month.
For the best toning results, you’ll want to clean up your diet in addition to your workouts.
With the right nutrition and exercise program, most people find it’s possible to lose about 1-2 pounds per week.
Relief from Joint and Back Pain
As mentioned earlier, aerial yoga is a zero-impact workout.
The benefit of no impact is no pressure, strain or stress on your joints.
That in itself is beneficial, but an aerial yoga workout goes a step further to actually help improve joint and spine health, so you not only avoid contributing to joint and back pain, but you can actually relieve pain already present.
The decompression of the spine and joints during suspension creates space in the joints, which helps them heal.
When the joints and spine are compressed, those spaces are deprived of healing elements like sufficient blood and oxygen flow.
Chronic knee and back pain are a major issue for a significant number of people.
Whether from being overweight, too sedentary, previous injuries or accidents or even working out too hard with high-impact exercises or improper form, most people experience one or both of these common conditions.
Aerial yoga workouts are a gift to knees in particular and beneficial for most pain associated with spinal compression.
The knees are moved and stretched in a way that allows the spine to decompress gently.
During any aerial yoga class, you will experience a number of positions in which the head is below the heart in an inverted position (referred to as “inversions”).
These positions promote blood circulation, which in turn increases overall circulation.
After a few classes, the benefits reach beyond the times during which you are practicing active inversion and into your daily life.
Improved circulation impacts overall health, respiration, digestion and brain function.
Literally every organ in your body, every cell, every process benefits from better circulation.
Wounds heal faster, thought processes are sharper, memory is more precise, energy and performance are increased.
While all forms of exercise can improve circulation, most do not offer the unique improvements you get as a result of inversion.
Traditional yoga offers these benefits, but very few people can hold inverted positions on their own without the aid of the hammock.
Improved Mood and Confidence
Aerial yoga classes yield benefits in these areas that are truly distinctive from other forms of exercise.
Whether you are in an advanced or beginner class, you will be challenged physically in ways you have never experienced.
Meeting those challenges and overcoming them is a major confidence booster!
Most people experience at least some level of fear being suspended in air for the duration of a workout.
Will the hammock hold me? What happens if I fall out of a pose? Am I strong enough to get into the pose and hold it?
There is a level of trust to establish and confidence in yourself to face new challenges.
In addition to the regular flow of adrenaline and endorphins and feel-good chemicals that all workouts bring, aerial yoga poses give an extra boost to these because of the additional challenges involved.
It’s the kind of high that can make you want to go back again and again, challenging yourself further and reaching for new heights.
Increased Range of Motion and Flexibility
Here again, the hammock and those inversions set aerial yoga apart from other forms of exercise.
You just can’t get the same level of increased flexibility and range of motion from anything else as quickly as you can with aerial yoga.
The hammock supports your body and can also be used as an aid to help stretch when you are not in the hammock, giving you a tool that allows you to perform stretches more deeply than you can on your own.
Your muscles and tendons are actually lengthened as a result of repetitive aerial yoga practice, and this happens more quickly when compared to traditional yoga or other workouts.
If you think flexibility is not really important to you – think again.
Flexibility is not just about being able to stretch further after a workout. Flexibility = Functionality.
Functionality includes all the movements we make throughout the day and take for granted being able to do, like walking, reaching, bending, squatting, etc.
In fact, the most common injuries come from lack of functionality.
Not only will everyday life and motion become easier and more enjoyable with increased flexibility, but so will your workouts.
You’ll experience fewer injuries, less pain, soreness and recovery time the more flexibility and range of motion you acquire.
Improved Core Strength
One of the greatest benefits of aerial yoga is the deep core development.
It is impossible to secure and hold aerial yoga poses without relying heavily on core muscles. You will feel it after the first workout.
Sure, everyone wants a flatter, stronger-looking tummy, but the benefits of well-developed core muscles go far beyond aesthetics.
Your core is the biggest support system for your spine.
You might think it’s your back muscles, but it is actually stronger core muscles that contribute most effectively to preventing spinal injuries and common, everyday back pain.
A strong core protects vital organs, improves posture and promotes confidence, too.
Well-developed core muscles contribute to overall health and strength across the entire muscular system and help to prevent injuries in other areas of the body.
(Learn about other pros and cons of aerial yoga here.)
This is probably my favorite, simply because there is so much value in engaging in activities that are fun for us.
Many people view their workouts as something they have to do, need to do or should do – something akin to avoiding sweets or paying taxes.
Because of the innate negative connotation often associated with working out, it is easy to find justifiable excuses to avoid it.
We are biologically programmed to avoid things we do not like. It’s perfectly normal, natural and human to do so.
On the flip side, when we find something fun or enjoyable, we tend to find ways to make time for it, even if it’s difficult to do so.
Aerial yoga is unique in so many ways, and it really is fun to challenge yourself and discover new physical experiences.
The fun factor seriously increases the likelihood of you making time to do it, allowing the chance for you to enjoy all the other benefits.
(Having fun during your workouts is one of the best ways to stay motivated to keep exercising.)
Aerial yoga is worth consideration for a myriad of reasons.
You don’t need any prior experience with yoga or any special skills. Beginner classes are very popular, and the zero-impact nature of the workout makes aerial yoga a safe choice for many.
If you’re still hesitant about trying it out, go visit a class and observe.
You’ll likely want to jump in and join before the end of the session. If you do try out a class, be sure to wear fitted clothing, and don’t be afraid to ask questions!
For more, check out:
- Results from SPENGA
- Results from CycleBar
- Results from Burn Boot Camp
- Results from Orangetheory
- Results from rock climbing workouts
Hope this helps!
As a former fitness and nutrition coach, group fitness instructor and personal trainer, Melissa has helped many people realize their goals. Now, she pairs her decades of experience and love of writing to share her passions with a wider audience. Visit MDealWrites.com to learn more.