Yoga has steadily gained popularity over the past couple of years, but I was more inclined to learn about its elegant cousin: Aerial Yoga. Swinging in a hammock while performing poses that aren’t limited to the mat, seemed like a beautiful (and super fun) way to attain a much needed peaceful state of mind.
I invited/dragged a few from the team to attend an introductory lesson with Gillian from Motionwerkz, who taught us the ropes. And if you’re wondering, yes, guys are welcome to attend these classes too.
Gillian is in her late forties and is a mother of two, but has a body that put our twenty-something year old physique to shame.
When asked where she got her discipline from to get into shape, she said it should never be about aiming for a certain body type, but to focus instead on the process — which is why the words are plastered on the wall as a reminder to her students and to us as we got down to trying five basic poses.
As with any workout, it’s best to start with some stretches. Make sure every muscle is activated, especially your arms and back, as you’re going to be engaging them.
We were already letting out a couple of “ahhs” from the deep stretches.
What sets Gillian’s classes apart is that she’ll go around to adjust your poses until you slay them.
This is her way of making sure the positions are imprinted in your body and mind, so you’ll find little trouble getting back into them during your next class.
You may think that doing planks with your ankles supported by the hammock would be easier, but… it really wasn’t. Your arms, core, shoulders and spine are all engaged, with your glutes bring put to the test.
Advance the plank position by bringing your knees into your chest, and then stretching them out again.
Pull the hammock fabric to the back of the knee, then bend your knee and fall forward, until you feel a good stretch.
Gillian took it further by stretching our hamstrings before bringing the knee to a bend. Remember to breathe while she does that – trust me, it helps relax the muscles.
The chair is one of the easier poses to achieve while improving your posture. Start by sitting in the hammock, finding your balance on the leg handles, and making sure they are not pointing outwards.
Pull the fabric up to your upper back and relish in this brief moment of rest.
Just when you’re entering into zen mode, it’s time to open your legs up into a split.
Push yourself further by removing one of your feet from the handle and cross the leg to the other side. Put on a Chinese opera costume and you’d be close to becoming a floating deity.
The highlight of the class was doing the inversion, which we didn’t dare imagine would happen in our first lesson — but as with Gillian’s motto, “impossible is nothing”, and so we tread into the unknown.
Gather the fabric to your lower back, hold on tight to your sides, bend your knees and join the base of your feet together, creating a triangle.
While you’re doing that, you’ll notice that your body is already tilting backwards, so go ahead and lean further. While you’re hanging upside down, bring your legs to the front of the fabric and join your feet again to secure the position.
“Don’t worry I’m your instructor, I won’t let you fall“, were the assuring words that helped us release our hands from the hammock and allow them to dangle over our heads.
Our minds were cleared, our muscles were relaxed, and we felt like we could stay in this position all day. Apart from that, the inversion is said to relieve stress, decompress and align your spine.
After every class, Gillian will perform a few chiropractic adjustments, cracking the back and head, to further relieve any tensed muscles and joints.
We came out feeling recharged in our body and mind from the endorphins that were released during the workout. As compared to yoga, you’ll have way more room to explore the various poses with a hammock that adds that little thrill factor.
That said, don’t try these positions without an instructor present. Gillian was extremely attentive, engaging and inspirational, and we can’t wait for our next class!
Prices: First class S$15 (newcomers only), various packages