Well Being

Gym Classy Lady: How I Learned To Love Aerial Yoga (AKA Hanging Upside Down In Silk Hammocks)

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Gym Classy Lady Elizabeth Ford doing aerial yoga at the OmFactory Studio in NYC

Well, they say the third time is the charm. And not to ruin the end of this, but when it comes to aerial yoga, I think they might be right.

I'll back up. You see, two years ago, while researching fun workout classes, a friend and I stumbled upon Aerial Vinyasa, a hanging yoga class at the OmFactory Yoga Studio in New York City. We glanced at the pictures, saw hordes of people hanging with orange silk hammocks suspended from the ceiling, read that the class ended in a nap-like swing in the hammock and immediately signed up.

And then we went and hated every second of it.

My friend couldn't breathe hanging upside down. I was hot and nauseated. It wasn't fun, we didn't look like the silky folks from the pictures, and I didn't want to return.

But then I realized that I'm not really a traditional yoga person, anyway, and maybe my dislike for yoga was ruining the Aerial experience for me. I decided I really should give the silks—that's what they call the orange hammocks—another try. I eased into it by dragging another friend to Om for an Aerial Restorative class. I was told the hammocks would be a foot off the ground for this one and it would be a little calmer. And it was, but I still wasn't a fan, and neither was my friend.

If I were reading this, I'd be wondering around this point: Good lord, woman, why do you keep trying this if you don't like it? I get it. But this weekend, another friend was in town (yes, I have many friends) and she put in a request specifically for aerial yoga. The regular kind, with a side of inverted nausea. Yipee.

This time, however, it totally clicked. I can't figure out precisely why, but I loved it. Go figure. So here's what I've concluded about Aerial Vinyasa at OmFactory.

EFFECTIVENESS – Overall, was it a good workout? How sweaty was I at the end (from black tie ready to drowned rat chic)? 

4 – I was sweaty enough to know I'd worked out (a nice glisten) but still looked good enough to go out to dinner afterwards (ok, fine, a milkshake stop and THEN dinner, stop judging!). The class never felt too hard or overwhelming, even when I was quite literally in over my head (see photo from my class with two friends, I'm on the left). Within five minutes of all three classes I took, we were upside down, and everyone in the class did it without much drama.

OmFactory Studio aerial yoga. Photo via https://www.facebook.com/OmFactoryNYC/photos_stream

It was definitely scary at first, but the silks really helped me to get deeper into stretches and test my limits without having to worry so much about balance and spine compression, like in a normal yoga class. In addition to inversions, typical yoga poses like downward dog and warrior were done using the silks, and even planks with your feet suspended by the silk (tough!). In a true test of a class, I left feeling like I'd gotten a good but not super challenging workout, but the next day I was pretty sore. Surprise! I had a tough Pilates class the next night, and I couldn't do some of the leg work.

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