What is the deal with Suspension Yoga?

We’re excited to feature OmGym Suspension Yoga classes at all of our festivals this summer. Suspension yoga is…

We’re excited to feature OmGym Suspension Yoga classes at all of our festivals this summer. Suspension yoga is similar to Aerial yoga, with a few added bonuses. We sat down with OmGym to learn all the ins and outs of this fascinating practice.

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Wanderlust: What is the difference between “Aerial Yoga” and “Suspension Yoga”?

OmGym: Both “Aerial Yoga” and “Suspension Yoga™” have combinations of aerial and grounded asana, although the equipment is very different and therefore the movements associated are different. In aerial yoga, there is a hammock-like sheet of fabric used (usually tricot), providing the support for the asana practice. In Suspension Yoga™, there is an adjustable sling of supportive fabric used, and there are added handles that further expand practitioner’s experience. In a Suspension Yoga™ class, these handles are used separately or in conjunction with the sling to help to modify and further enhance each posture. The OmGym® Suspension System now has added cushioning and adjustment features that create exceptional comfort and versatility.

Wanderlust: Where did all this Suspension Yoga come from anyway? It’s clearly a new invention, right?

OmGym: Traditional yoga asana in suspended form has been performed for thousands of years, although OmGym® coined the modern term “Suspension Yoga™” and has developed the framework for teaching and integrating ancient yogic practices into a strategized, user-friendly method. Within this framework, known as OmGym® Suspension Yoga™, OmGym® aims to augment the benefits derived from each asana using uniquely applied suspension-based techniques. These techniques help the practitioner to self-direct his/her own journey into the asana and beyond.

Wanderlust: So, what is the deal with going upside down? How is it actually good for us?

OmGym: Going upside-down is the most important movement anyone can do and OmGym® Suspension Yoga™ includes it in every class. Our bodies were designed to reverse the force of gravity using regular postural variation. Because most people today generally avoid any movements that deviate from sitting, standing and lying, the force of gravity is not properly opposed. This creates an imbalance of force generated on our entire physical structure. With the force of gravity being strong and constant, its long-term cumulative effects can be extremely damaging, particularly when repetitive movement patterns serve to exacerbate the circumstance. When we reverse this gravitational pull, the associated impact on the body immediately begins to reverse. This is why inversion (hanging upside-down) is referred to as an ancient anti-aging secret, a great mental boost, as well as a powerful tool for reversing back pain and other postural issues.

Wanderlust: Are there other movements that are important in OmGym® Suspension Yoga™?

OmGym: Definitely. Performing backbends, forward-bends, twists, side-bends, and hip-openers with combined traction are all extremely delightful and beneficial. Like traditional yoga, the practice of OmGym® Suspension Yoga™ includes a balanced mix of asana. The suspended yoga postures, however, focus on using gravity to the body’s advantage, counteracting its compound effects and encouraging the practitioner to open more deeply into each of poses. In practice, this is generally a source of great pleasure for the practitioner.

Wanderlust: I’m a beginner. Can I try it?

OmGym: Absolutely. We have an Easy OmGym® Suspension Yoga™ Class, specially designed for beginners which we’ll be presenting at Wanderlust this summer. Even if you have never done yoga before, we can guide you through suspended poses that help your body to reap the benefits of popular asanas, while you are comfortably supported. It’s like accelerated yoga, as it’s easier for beginners to find balance in challenging positions, conquer related fears, and really enjoy the practice.

Wanderlust: I’m advanced. Is it going to be boring?

OmGym: In OmGym® Suspension Yoga™ Classes, traditional asana is supported and built upon, often with a large shift in spatial orientation. Asanas suddenly become multi-directional with varied elevation and added dynamic motion. The practitioner’s center of gravity is repositioned, challenging repetitive movement patterns, igniting new neural connections, and recreating the experience within each asana. This multi-sensory immersion into suspended asana is both stimulating and soothing, creative and strategic, playful and developmental. The practice can often feel a bit surreal, as suspended asanas are innovatively explored with seemingly weightless motion. So no, it will not be boring!

Wanderlust: Is it safe? Like really, really? I’m asking for a friend. I—I mean SHE is scared of falling out.

OmGym: Haha! Of course your friend is scared, as we all are at first! OmGym® makes sure to guide classes step-by-step, moving through related grounded poses before elevating practitioners off of the ground. We help students to perform important wraps and handling techniques when they are fully supported and encourage further challenge only when each student is ready. Additional assistance in class is also available whenever needed.

Wanderlust: What is a class like? Are there warm-ups and cool-downs? Is it fast?

OmGym: Each OmGym® Suspension Yoga™ Class is a great adventure. Classes start with a short intro to acquaint the new practitioners with the OmGym® Suspension System. Once students are oriented, a warm-up begins, which generally includes mental visualization, vestibular/sensory orientation, breathwork, and a flowing rhythmic sequence of heat-building motion to prepare the body for the deeper work. Practitioners then progress through the class with a mix of grounded and aerial asana that stretches, strengthens, and balances the entire body, especially the core and stabilizing muscles of the body. Classes wind-down with deeper movement, like deep backbends forward bends, inversion and relaxing motion before moving into a floating savasana. A typical OmGym® Suspension Yoga™ Class is uplifting (literally!), empowering, challenging and relaxing all at the same time.

Wanderlust: Is this something that should be done indoors or outdoors? Is there a benefit to one or the other?

OmGym: The OmGym® Suspension System is designed for use inside a yoga studio, inside a house, or outside. Because our mission is to inspire joy within movement and to create full-body happiness, we recommend doing any movement routine outdoors whenever possible, however. It is proven that moving in natural environments is associated with greater feelings of revitalization and positive engagement, while leading to a decrease in tension and depression. Having a controlled environment in a home or class studio definitely has its advantages, although nothing beats the great outdoors!

Wanderlust: What are you doing at Wanderlust and which ones will you be at?

OmGym: Everyone at OmGym® is extremely excited to be partnering with Wanderlust Festivals and to contribute to such extraordinary events. At each Wanderlust Festival, we will have Certified OmGym® Suspension Yoga™ Teachers presenting a special selection of OmGym® Suspension Yoga™ Classes, including Elevating the Asana™, Meditative Levitation™, Your Brain on Suspension Yoga™, and OmGym® Handstand Training. We expect classes to fill up quickly. We will also be offering OmGym® Suspension Systems and accessories for home use and taking registrations for upcoming OmGym® Teacher Trainings. For anyone who already has an OmGym® Suspension System, Wanderlust would an ideal place to learn more on evolving the personal practice. We’ll be appearing at all of the Wanderlust Festivals in North America in 2014 and will be offering many classes over the course of the four days. We plan to celebrate hard with all of our friends at each event (celebrating in all possible suspended positions, of course). We’ll be collectively aspiring to high elevations and hanging around in full-body decompression, all while fully blissed-out in the magic of Wanderlust’s collaborative retreat-experience. We invite all who are ready to release, expand, and fly…

Want to meet OmGym at the festivals? Pick your festival to learn more:

Answers: © 2014 OmGym® International LLC