Aerial Yoga

Charli, a plus size yogi, practices aerial yoga using a red trapeze and wearing black leggings and a black tank top.

Yoga is for everyone. I’m a big believer in that. But what about aerial yoga, sometimes known as trapeze yoga? Who is for and why should you try it?

Aerial yoga. It sounds daunting. Something reserved for athletes – the gymnasts and the circus performers. But what if I told you that it the most relaxing, therapeutic, and endorphin boosting exercise I’ve ever tried? And what if I told you that I’m plus size? A size 18, 5ft10, 15 stone woman. And I practice aerial yoga.

I have to admit that I was terrified when first starting a six week beginners course. I definitely had preconceived ideas of what it would entail. I went with the idea that I would try once- realise it wasn’t for me, and never attend again. I was so wrong. I spent the next size weeks swinging upside down, giggling when getting stuck in a position I never thought I’d accomplish, and walking out of class feeling refreshed, invigorated and more supple than I did just an hour before. I also experienced less headaches – although I can’t promise that will be the case for everyone.

I do have to admit, there were some moves simply beyond me. Even after moving into the intermediate class for more practiced yogis. I struggle lifting my own body weight, a symptom of being plus size and having frozen shoulder. This meant some of the moves were more difficult for me. But there were still a thousand more poses that I loved and mastered quicker than some other people in my class. Handstands were my personal favourite and I could spend hours swinging blissfully in the trapeze for shavasana at the end of class.

Charli, a plus size yogi, practices aerial yoga using a red trapeze and wearing black leggings and a black tank top.

What is aerial yoga?

Putting it simply, aerial yoga is the practice of traditional yoga poses, or asanas, modified to be performed with the use of a hammock or trapeze. These are mostly suspended from the ceiling although you can also purchase a frame to suspend the trapeze from.

The hammock I’m using in these pictures is an aerial yoga swing which consists of four handles (two of different lengths) and a hammock that can be altered to different sizes. Other options are available but this is the type I’ve always used and feel most comfortable endorsing.

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Yoga Trapeze
Ewedoos Eco Friendly Yoga Mat with Alignment Lines
Aerial Yoga: Combine Traditional Yoga Poses, Pilates, and Dance with the use of a Hammoc
Trapeze Wall Mount
Yoga Trapeze
Ewedoos Eco Friendly Yoga Mat with Alignment Lines
Aerial Yoga: Combine Traditional Yoga Poses, Pilates, and Dance with the use of a Hammoc
Trapeze Wall Mount
Yoga Trapeze

The benefits of trapeze yoga

Lengthens and re-aligns the spine

We all know that a day hunched over a computer screen leads to tight, hunched shoulders and a compressed spine. The vast majority of aerial yoga poses involves a subtle correction of this posture and form. This is aided by the trapeze which supports and aligns your body – making it easier to perfect those asanas.

Charli, a plus size yogi, practices aerial yoga using a red trapeze and wearing black leggings and a black tank top.

Many poses involve being elevated or even hanging upside down. This allows your spine to decompress, stretch, and align back into a natural posture. The longer you are able to stay in the asanas, the more benefits you’ll feel. When practicing aerial yoga, I find a significant improvement in back and shoulder pain. My tension headaches also melt away and I experience less migraines. It is important to say that not everyone will experience these benefits – but I certainly do.

Strengthens and aids inversions

The asanas performed in aerial yoga mimic those practised in conventional, floor based yoga but with one key difference – your body is supported by the trapeze. This means you’re able to really focus on strengthening the muscles used in these poses.

Charli, a plus size yogi, practices aerial yoga using a red trapeze and wearing black leggings and a black tank top.

The biggest difference, for me, is when it comes to inversions. The trapeze can be used to minimise your body weight, allowing you to practice better form when performing common yoga moves like handstands and headstands. You can also use the trapeze to support you when transitioning into these poses, reducing the likelihood of injury. I’ve found that my practice on the mat has improved through the use of a trapeze, with my shoulder and abdominal muscles strengthening through practice.

Improves flexibility

As well as strengthening benefits, practicing aerial yoga also helps to increase your flexibility. Again, the trapeze supports your body whilst practicing stretches, allowing you to deepen into the stretch and hold it for longer. Again, this improves flexibility both on and off the mat.

It is incredibly relaxing

It is no exaggeration to say that the hammock of the trapeze cocoons and relaxes you, even in the most complex of asanas. You’re entirely supported and, at times, feel completely weightless. I come out of practice feeling floppy, sleepy and (to use a cliche) completely zen. You have not experienced shavasana until you’ve tried it swinging gently from a trapeze.

It’s for everyone

The support offered by the trapeze means that everyone is able to practice the asanas of aerial yoga. The class I attended was also the most supportive of classes. Filled with all ages, sizes and abilities. Like so many other yoga classes that I’ve attended, there was only support. And that is the beautiful thing about all types of yoga, it is about your own journey and your own ability – not that of anyone else.

Charli, a plus size yogi, practices aerial yoga using a red trapeze and wearing black leggings and a black tank top.

I’m now determined to get my own trapeze to practice aerial yoga at home. To improve my flexibility and strength and also for the upper most relaxation opportunities. And I hope that I’ve convinced you to give a class a try – it really is the best exercise I’ve ever tried.

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14 Comments

  1. February 5, 2020 / 12:23 pm

    This look amazing and I have heard of this before, I know it is something I would not be able to do as would end up caught up or a heap on the floor

  2. Joanna
    February 5, 2020 / 5:32 pm

    I have never seen aerial yoga before. Reading about it in your article I can see that it might be a solution for my back pain, that I struggle with a lot.

  3. February 5, 2020 / 7:36 pm

    I have not yet got my head around Yoga, but this is something else!!

    You make it look so easy! Maybe I should finally give Yoga my all because I am really intrigued by this!

  4. Valerie
    February 5, 2020 / 11:01 pm

    I’ve never heard of aerial yoga before. My back and neck is a hot mess right now, the idea of it all relaxing and feeling any bit better sounds incredible.

  5. February 6, 2020 / 12:25 pm

    This sounds brilliant. I’d love to give it a try because I am really suffering from back and neck issues at the moment due to being on the computer all the time. Thanks for sharing!

  6. February 6, 2020 / 1:45 pm

    My friend does this and swears by. I really must join her and try it for myself

  7. Rhian Westbury
    February 6, 2020 / 2:11 pm

    I really want to try an aerial yoga class, but I know I need to work on my core strength before I can try it out as I won’t be able to move myself around as much x

  8. February 6, 2020 / 2:29 pm

    I’d love to try this. I recently took up yoga and I go to beginners classes once a week but I would like to try out different styles.

  9. February 6, 2020 / 8:28 pm

    I’ve always wanted to start yoga but never thought I could . I’d love to get into it now for sure

  10. Kristine Nicole Alessandra
    February 6, 2020 / 11:51 pm

    I tried doing yoga before but got frustrated because I could not get into the right poses. If I should try once more, I think aerial yoga would be the best for me. I will have to check if they offer classes in our local gym. If they do, I will sign up immediately.

  11. February 7, 2020 / 10:19 am

    Oh wow this sounds amazing, I have recently started beginners yoga (as part of a new years resolution) but had no idea aerial yoga was a thing!

  12. Michelle Twin Mum
    February 7, 2020 / 12:07 pm

    Wow, I struggle with regular yoga, let alone aerial! Lol it does looks incredibly relaxing and I can see why you enjoy it. Mich x

  13. February 10, 2020 / 1:47 pm

    I’ve since this on tv shows before and it’s quite interesting. I’ve never tried Aerial Yoga before but it looks amazing.