Christopher Harrison, creator of AntiGravity fitness, has a motto: “When you open space in your body, you open space in your mind.” He developed aerial yoga in 1991 as an outlet for retired gymnasts who still wanted the feeling of flipping without putting stress on their joints, and today, Long Islanders are flocking to studios like Emerge Yoga and Wellness in Bellmore to get nimble, loose and relaxed.
“AntiGravity Yoga is good if you don’t like the gym,” said Karen Corrente, an AGY instructor at Emerge Yoga and Wellness in Bellmore.
AGY blends athletic power and the creativity of dance to establish a relaxing fitness practice that is physically and mentally restorative and so much less soul crushing than a 60-minute run on a treadmill. Studios like Emerge Yoga and Wellness offer classes for all ages, levels and body types.
Aerial yoga is a great choice for people with injuries because the zero compression inverting gives yogis control of their own resistance, allowing the body to stay active with little to no strain. Using muscles while in a hammock is also much easier on joints. Fear of falling shouldn’t get in the way of mindful conscious conditioning: each hammock is rigged with hardware to support more than 1,000 pounds. Aerial yogis say regular practice helps align their spines, strengthen and massage muscles and increase blood circulation, agility, flexibility and even self-esteem.
Corrente referred to aerial yoga as a “happy hormone cocktail” because of all of the endorphins released in the detoxing inversions.
“The tourniquet effects on joints allows fresh blood into the joints,” she said.
That fresh blood flow contains serotonin, oxytocin and melatonin that promote a happy and relaxed state of mind. Bonus: the synovial fluid in your joints allows you to stay nimble and lose. In other words, you may want to trade in happy hour for some meditation and flying once in a while.
If you’re in, Corrente recommended snug clothing, shirts with sleeves, no jewelry or socks and a mat for class. Have something small to eat beforehand, but avoid big meals and perhaps most importantly: enter with a fearless mindset so you’re ready to fly.