Thursday, April 2, 2015

Aerial Yoga review

So as previously mentioned, I bought a Groupon for aerial yoga classes.  They were held at a studio called Yin Yang Yoga and Wellness.  I had never heard of this yoga studio but it was close to my house in Maryland and the price was right, so I bought the groupon for both myself and Mike.

 So, what is aerial yoga?  According to the studio's website: 

In an Aerial Yoga class, students of all levels can use gravity as their greatest tool to access their individual goals. By implementing simple poses, students learn to release muscular tension, increase joint mobility, build balance and coordination, and slow down the aging process, while having a great time!
 Aerial Yoga is Suitable for most bodies regardless of age or physical abilities. The applications of this unique device are endless an adjustments can easily be made to suit the individual's specific needs.

Sounds great, sign me up!  Well, let's talk about the studio first.  It is located in the suburbs and has a parking lot which seemed to have plenty of parking for the most part.  The only time we had difficulty with parking is after one of the many snowstorms this Winter because piles of snow were still taking up some of the spots.

The studio is upstairs and you do have to climb a steep staircase to get up there.  But once you're at the top, it opens up and is welcoming and cozy.  There is a sign directing you to the left for wellness services and to the right for yoga.  Once you go to the right, there is a reception desk as well as a little tea stand stocked with various types of teas and a section where they sold some yoga goods.

There was an area where you could leave your coats and shoes, but it was small.  This area definitely felt tight in the transition period between classes. The studio itself was beautiful.  There are straps hanging from the ceiling to let you know where to set up.  Everyone would then get a backpack which had your hammock, which is what you suspend yourself from for various moves. 

Mike testing the height on his hammock - you can see the straps and backpacks in the background
The hammock is made of parachute material and hangs from the straps using S hooks.  Initially, I was a little worried about the sturdiness but the teachers started each class letting us know that the set up was graded to hold up to 1000 pounds.  That definitely made me feel safer.

What the hammock looks like without anyone in it

The practice itself was a lot of fun!  After the first class, Mike turned to me with a huge smile on his face and said that he had forgotten how much fun it was to be upside down.  There were definitely a couple times when I laughed and felt a bit like a kid playing around :)

Just hanging around

But it was also a good workout.  I initially thought it would be good for getting deeper stretches, back bends, etc. but I didn't think it would be much of a strength training workout.  Well, I was wrong.  There was a lot of core and thigh work.  Planks were done with hands on the ground and feet in the hammock. Warrior moves were done with one leg in the hammock and one on the floor.  All of these moves with parts of your body in the hammock definitely made balance tougher and forced the use of more muscles. It was also great for practicing handstand as part of your weight could be held by the hammock wrapped around your legs.

So what are the normal prices like?  The website indicates it's $20 for one class but there are various class passes that do lower the per class prices a bit.

Here are some other thoughts I had about the aerial yoga class at this studio: 

1. Schedule ahead - The classes were often full and we had to schedule all four of our classes about a month in advance to make sure we got in before the Groupon ran out.  The annoying thing was that the classes were never actually full when we got there.  It seems like they had a lot of no shows or last minute cancellations :(
2. Wear sleeves - I wore a tank top once and had bruises under my arms. There are several moves where the hammock is under your arms and you are hanging from it, which can be a bit uncomfortable.  Sleeves definitely help!
3. Know your potential for feeling motion sick - I had to make sure I went on an empty stomach because there were a couple times when I felt a bit nauseous.  I heard other people in the class comment on the same so it wasn't just me.
4. Falling - For the most part, it is hard to fall if you listen to what the teacher says.  The fear of falling was real and several times the teacher would come around and say, you can lift your hands off the ground, I promise you won't fall. But there were two incidents where someone did fall.  They were small falls and they caught themselves, but I advise caution.  The first time in class, I would definitely wait to invert until the teacher is watching so she can caution you if you're doing something wrong.  I think both falls were when people had their legs on the inside of the hammock instead of the outside.
5. Different teachers - It was strange but there really didn't seem to be a set teacher for the class.  Out of four classes, we had three different teachers.  I liked some more than others so it was a good opportunity to try out different styles but I would have liked the option to stick with a teacher I like.

Mike is thinking about sticking with it even now that our Groupon has run out.  I have a deal for barre classes so I'm going to try those next and then probably decide between the two.  But overall, I really liked these classes.  If you have aerial yoga near you, I definitely think it's worth a try.