Practice 8 Essential Aerial Yoga Poses You Have to Try Want to get in on the aerial yoga movement? Check out these postures—they’re great for newbies and experts alike. By Carmen Curtis AiReal Yoga is a form of aerial yoga using a hammock on a single swiveling point as a prop for yoga asanas. AiReal Yoga is yoga in the air, and it really is yoga. The hammock is a tool for all levels and styles of yoga, from beginners to advanced, from yin to vinyasa. It’s a tool to hold on to for balance, help refine postures, assist in alignment, deepen stretches, and safely invert without compressing the spine. Some of the greatest benefits come from the therapeutic aspects the hammock offers: reducing pain, finding alignment, decompressing the spine, overcoming fear, building confidence and strength, and giving you the opportunity to do postures you never thought personally possible. Not to mention the magic of a floating savasana… Here are eight essential poses to get you started: 1. Layback in the Cross Position A deep heart opening posture Stretches and opens the chest and shoulders, lungs, and abdomen Stimulates the nervous system Improves posture Relieves stress Therapeutic for asthma 2. Chair in the Cross Position Spinal decompression Relieves lower back pain and sciatica pain Improves posture A moment of ohhhhhhmyyygooooodnesssss ahhhhhh. 3. Shoulder Stretch in Wrist Wrap (variation on Extended Puppy Pose/Uttana Shishosana) Stretches the shoulders and spine Improves posture Helps reduce lower back and sciatica pain 4. Plank with the Feet in the Hammock (variation on High Plank) Strengthens and tones core, legs, shoulders, wrist, spine, and arms Helps relieve lower back pain (you must engage the glutes in this variation since the hammock raises the legs higher than in traditional floor yoga plank) Improves your posture and confidence Increasing balance and stability 5. Low Lunge in Wrist Wrap Stretches the hip flexor and sciatica. Relieves emotional and hormonal stress 6. Pike and Pull with the Foot in the Hammock, with a “Wanderlust-Finding-Your-True-North-Twist” Point your arrow in the direction of your dreams Stretches the hamstrings, thighs, and hips Relieves sciatica and lower back pain Improves balance and focus Improves digestion 7. Star Inversion Decompresses the spine Helps relieve stress, anxiety, insomnia, and mild depression Calms the mind, allowing you to think more clearly Increases circulation and decreases inflammation Regulates temperature Allows gravity to naturally align the spine Relieves menstrual cramps and menopause symptoms 8. Floating Savasana with Assisted Foot and Back Massage Surrender, feeling light, sensations of floating, a deep meditation Calms the brain, relaxes the body and mind Hugged by silk, feeling secure and safe Ease of sinking and melting into a deep relaxed state Reset and Renew Try AiReal yoga at a Wanderlust 108! Photos by Neil Gandhi — AiReal Yoga is the first and only brand of aerial/hammock yoga accredited by the Yoga Alliance, offering 200-hour teacher training programs, 50 hour immersions and hammock installations. Check us out at airealyoga.com. Carmen Curtis is the founder of AiReal Yoga. She is a former NCAA National Champion gymnast. Carmen has been traveling the world creating aerial acts, teaching harness and aerial, and performing for clients such as Cirque Du Soleil, LA Philharmonic, and Lady Gaga and appears on MTV’s show BEYOND DANCE. In 2010 she opened The AERIAL STUDIO, in Ventura, CA, and began teaching aerial arts, gymnastics, dance, and yoga.