Defying Gravity

Twisting, floating, hanging upside down, flying yoga is physical fitness ‘lifted’ to another level…

I’ve been practicing yoga on and off for the last three years – well okay, more off than on and getting back on the yogi track has been something i’ve been itching to do for some time now.

In Phu My Hung there are plenty of gyms and private yoga instructors offering classes but laziness always got the better of me, that is, until I heard about flying yoga also called aerial yoga. And when i learned that the youngest student in the class was three years-old and the oldest was 77, I suddenly felt motivated.

If you’re wondering what the key difference is between your regular yoga and this form, it’s the hammocks hanging from ceiling. In flying yoga, this fabric acts like a swing or soft trapeze, allowing flexibility and easy movement. It is used to change one’s ‘dynamic relationship’ to the ground, allowing the user to understand their body better and its relationship to being suspended.

According to Dr. Chandra, the founder and director of Universal Yoga (35 Duong Noi, Hung Gia 4) in District 7, this form of yoga was introduced about two years ago and involves performing a series of exercises inspired by yoga, dance, pilates, calisthenics and aerial acrobatics in order to achieve a total-body workout, while being suspended two to three feet off the ground.

He advises those who want to try flying yoga to build a foundation with floor yoga first. Basically, poses that are done on the floor can be replicated in the flying yoga studio and according to Dr. Chandra, “It’s easier because you have support when doing flying yoga.”

Watching one of his students effortlessly tangle and untangle herself from the suspensions made me a quick believer. The tangling I can handle, but reverting back to the untangled position is mind boggling, and fear of the cloth tearing under my weight came to mind. I was assured the suspensions can withstand 1,000lbs (454.5 kg).

Fear of Flying

“Flying yoga attracts people who are into dance and who want a good strong workout,” Dr. Chandra shares.

He adds that with flying yoga, inverted and advance poses can be easily achieved and holding a pose is easier and requires less strength compared to floor yoga. Once you get over the fear of flying, you reap its benefits. inverted poses help in decompressing the spine which relieves the back from pressure (as in slip disc). It actually helps in strengthening the spine. Younger students who practice flying yoga regularly may become taller, and people with high blood pressure or hypertension should seek medical clearance first.

Some poses that Dr. Chandra effortlessly demonstrated were:

− The Bow: Similar to a backbend, but your hand grabs on to your ankles from underneath the cloth instead. This pose helps in flexibility and stretching the spine.

− Splitting: You stand on two cloths and lower your body into a split as low as you can. This gives the hamstrings a good workout.

− Inversions: This can be done on the flying yoga suspension or on the wall which helps decompress and strengthen the spine.

Jelda, who has only been practicing flying yoga for three months, revealed that she has noticeably become slimmer and felt more relaxed at work. Her favorite pose is the sleeping position but she has yet to master the splitting one. She admits that in her first session she experienced dizziness which, Dr. Chandra confirms, is normal while the body is still adjusting to the exercises. He insisted I try some poses and so I gave in to the beckoning orange cloths. I attacked it like a child on a swing but when it was time to bend back and unite my hands with my feet from under, all my bravado flew out the window. Let’s leave it for another day, shall we?

Image by NAM QUAN

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