Floor based yoga has been practised for thousands of years and holds prominent value in developing mind, body and spirit. While aerial yoga is relatively new on the scene, it’s fast becoming an essential element in a balanced yoga practice. Let’s find out why.
The grounding connection to the earth is a feeling we take for granted. I mean, we’re just sitting on the earth (or chair, or bed wherever you currently are), we don’t have to do anything for it to occur. When we take a moment to feel this connection and think only of this, we are practising the art of mindfulness. Mindfulness is a beautiful skill practised in yoga that helps strengthen a deeper connection from our body to our mind. Floor yoga allows us to connect to stillness and secureness of the earth, while aerial yoga allows us to experience the weightlessness and freedom of flight.
2. Back care
While floor yoga offers many different types of inversions, like the strength and focus required for a handstand, or flexibility required for a plough pose, aerial yoga facilitates inversions that alter our body’s position in gravity. By hanging above the earth, our whole body is able to gain traction, rather than contraction. This release is important for spinal health and mobility.
3. Yin and yang
Yin and yang originates in Chinese philosophy to explain the balance of everything in the universe. Everything has an opposing, yet complementary side like day and night, hot and cold etc. With too much of one aspect, balance is unachieved. This philosophy is applied to yoga practice and the need to balance the strong, energetic ‘yang’ flows, with slower, more still ‘yin’ poses. Aerial and floor yoga both provide yin and yang style practices. Aerial fitness and playful classes exhibit a more energetic ‘yang’ style, while aerial restorative gently provides yin. The same can be seen in yoga play (power yoga) and deep stretch (yin) floor classes.
4. Which one first?
No animal is born in the air. Even the most magnificent eagle that soars through the sky is nurtured within a nest that is anchored to the ground. We all need to lay our foundation to scaffold our way up to more challenging ventures. Luckily, we’ve already spent years conquering the skill of grounded movement. However, building a strong floor yoga practice is not a pre-requisite for aerial, rather a recommended co-requisite. This way the two can evolve together.
The beauty of yoga is that it is not a competitive sport. It’s not a team sport. It’s all just about you. By pouring your consciousness inwards, you learn to listen to what your body is telling you. Traditional floor work tends to be quite solitary and serious, which is great for some time with yourself. While still embracing yoga philosophies, aerial yoga, especially at Bend and Fly, has become a light-hearted, playful way of exploring shapes in the air. This is evident by the sounds of laughter coming from within the studio and flyers who have become close friends by connecting through the mutual love of aerial play.
6. Full body workout
Yoga is for everyone. This is because it is so vast in its variations and styles. From still meditative breath work, to hard out hot power yoga, it provides a challenge for every age group and ability level. That’s not to say that every type of yoga is suitable for everyone. For those who are looking to find a balance in their yoga practice, combining aerial yoga with floor yoga offers a whole body workout. Exercises can be classified as having either a ‘pushing’ or ‘pulling’ action with each action requiring different muscle groups. Floor yoga provides a pushing action, while aerial provides a pulling action, thus facilitating varied muscle groups.
7. Your needs, your choice
Some of us are amazing at consistency, no matter what. Every day, every week, every month, their routine is set like stone, no. matter. what…. For the rest of us, we face ups and downs in our moods, our energy levels, our time commitments, everything. By participating in both aerial and floor yoga, we immediately double our variety of classes. Having a wider variety allows us to really become aware of what our body needs and wants on any given day. Some days we want to be challenging ourselves in handstand, or dripping with sweat in a heated class, other days we need to be wrapped in a cocoon and rocked gently.