Ground 6 Ways to Make AIReal Yoga Your Physical Therapy Take flight with these six poses designed to make you feel amazing. By Carmen Curtis Photo by Diana Gerstacker Catch Carmen Curtis or one of her trained AIReal Yoga Instructors at any of our upcoming Wanderlust Festivals and Wanderlust 108s. For more about AIReal yoga, click here. Are you hungry to fly? Aerial yoga looks fun (and it is!), but there are also a myriad of therapeutic benefits that can do wonders for your precious body. AIReal Yoga Creator Carmen Curtis, shares aerial yoga basics, and how everybody and every body can access these awesome poses. Carmen Curtis is no newcomer to either yoga or flying freely through the air—her credentials are stacked. A national champion gymnast for UCLA turned aerial artist for Cirque du Soleil, Carmen found yoga as a means to heal her overtrained body after years of elite competition and performance. She studied diligently with renowned instructors and pioneers of yoga, including Gurmukh (Kundalini and prenatal), Shiva Rae (prana vinyasa), and Bryan Kest (power) ultimately, blending her practices into one brainchild, AIReal Yoga. Carmen emphatically opens every conversation, ensuring that folks understand the accessibility of AIReal Yoga. This unique style is not simply about tricks or drops, but rather having fun, opening a space for experimentation, and developing a stronger relationship with your physical self. Carmen’s ultimate goal is to bring the mental, physical, and emotional benefits of the yoga postures to everyone, regardless of age, skill or physical limitation, by using the hammock as a prop. In her latest phase of AIReal Yoga, Carmen has been partnering with professional therapists and trainers to integrate the hammock in their recuperative programs and works with athletes, performance artists, moms and moms-to-be, children, and adults worldwide to ensure they can reap the benefits of her suspension-based yoga practice. We asked Carmen to focus on the common pain areas of tension, soreness, and injury—the hips, back, and shoulders. Read on for specific poses to help nurture your physical ailments. Hips Pigeon Variation, “Attitude” and Resting Stretch are great for those with tight hips. This can be especially pertinent if you are a “Weekend Warrior”, or someone who pursues running, biking, skiing, surfing. You also likely have tight hips if you have a job that requires extended periods of sitting or standing. It’s pretty common to store stress and blocked emotions in the hips, causing tension and limiting range of motion. To make matters worse, tight hips are often the root cause of lower back pain. In Pigeon, the hammock provides added support and helps create additional space for those with tight hips to get into a safe and deep hip opening with proper alignment. In Resting Stretch with the back leg alternating between straight and bent, you can open the hip flexors and quads. Both of these areas are common places to develop an imbalance in flexibility which can lead to injury and pain. Shoulders The shoulders are a common area to store stress and hold tension, especially for those at the computer or sitting at the desk all day. Both Shoulder Stretch in Wrist Wrap and Cat/Cow in Wrist Wrap begin to unravel this tension through concentrated shoulder, chest, and heart opening movements. Shoulder Stretch in Wrist Wrap while standing creates space around the full expanse of shoulder girdle allowing you to expand the full back body and actively draw the shoulders away from the neck and ears. Cat/Cow in Wrist Wrap is one of the most effective and accessible shoulder, chest, and heart openers. This simple posture helps correct posture, lubricate the spinal column, and relieve tension in the back body. The fluid undulating movement in this posture keeps the spine supple and initiates the release of happy hormones. Releasing stress in the body removes blockage, both mentally and physically, allowing you to think more clearly and move more freely. The expansion of the rib cage, chest and heart provides profound emotional benefits. Heart openers help release sadness and anger allowing us to be more open to love —love of self, love of others, and allowing others to love us. Expanding the full upper body, from shoulders to chest to back, allows for deeper breaths and more oxygen rich blood to circulate throughout the entire body and invigorate our being. Back Cat/Cow and Layback in Cross. The back is a common area of pain. Those who do a lot of lifting, twisting, and sitting without core stabilization or employment of other major muscle groups are especially prone to back pain. When the spine is aligned you are more efficient and more resilient. Stretching the spine in Cat/Cow in Cross can help prevent and relieve pain and can also help restore emotional balance. The hammock offers traction in this posture and creates space for mindful movement. Layback in Cross allows for the extension and decompression of the spine, a heart and chest opener helping to improve posture and alignment. Spinal traction and decompression help calm the mind, increase circulation, decrease inflammation and pain, and reduce stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia. Do these daily to aid in your personal healing process and experience alleviation of pain and strain. Dare to take flight! Try these Hatha based yoga postures in the AIReal Yoga hammock to reap the benefits of suspension based yoga. In just one practice, you will feel the exhilaration of flight paired with soothing support. Learn more about the benefits and healing properties of aerial yoga on the AIReal Yoga website or AIReal Yoga YouTube Channel. Carmen’s home practice videos guide you to release tension; alleviate aches and pains; achieve proper alignment and balance in the body; increase flexibility and range of motion; develop strength and durability; recover from and prevent injury; and, more. Need a hammock to start your practice? They’ve got that too. Check out the shop to pick out the silk that suits you. — Carmen Curtis is flying high as one of the premiere experts in the world of aerial yoga and fitness. A zealous practitioner for more than two decades, Carmen first found yoga as a way to heal her body from the extreme sports of gymnastic and Cirque performing, and has been teaching it ever since. More than a teacher, a visionary, Carmen is also the founder of AIReal Yoga™, the first and only brand of aerial yoga accredited by the Yoga Alliance.Follow Carmen and the AIReal Yoga tribe @airealyoga on Facebook and Instagram.