-by guest blogger & Yoga Instructor Ami Aria
Looking for an extremely blissful workout experience? Try Antigravity Yoga – a new kind of workout that may be hard to find, but that is quickly becoming popular all over the world. I googled “yoga nearby” (my hotel) and didn’t know what to expect when I signed up for my first Antigravity Yoga class while visiting New York a few years ago. All I knew was that I was interested in trying something new and exciting. The class description said this style of yoga was founded by a man named Christopher Harrison, who aimed to “increase one’s overall health and physical agility while having fun and creating beauty.” (AGY’s official site)
Reviews of the class were mostly of people saying how much they loved this new style of yoga, and how it was indescribable without actually experiencing it for yourself. It promised to be “challenging…fun…effective…. and revolutionary” (AGY site) Some other noted benefits were spinal and joint decompression, assistance with correct alignment in postures with the ability to hold them longer (and being able to stretch further without strain), support in mastering simple inversions, and more ease in progressing to more advanced yoga poses. The coolest promise was that it would add an entire new dimension to a yoga practice. I did some research and watched a few videos while contemplating whether this kind of class was for me. I guessed that it could be really relaxing, OR that it could be a challenge unlike any other I’ve experienced. I had also heard it was the most extremely blissful experience I might ever have… and to my pleasant surprise, it was a perfect balance of all of these things.
The class started and ended with gentle meditations, hanging in “womb” and “cocoon” poses, which were in and of themselves incredibly peaceful and at the same time invigorating. Both at the beginning of class I was both peaceful and excited, with the anticipation of new things to come; and then again at the end I was filled with with the sense of accomplishment and feeling like I could do anything after all of what my body was just able to do in the previous hour – at the same time my muscles were worked to the point of exhaustion which allowed me to relax into a “corpse” pose unlike any other I’ve experienced in yoga. Even with over 12 years of experience in different kinds of yoga (even the “extreme” styles like Hot Yoga and Bikram), this style of yoga was definitely the most interesting, challenging, intoxicating and fun!
At the class’s peak, I was flipped upside down in “chandelier” pose, hanging by one leg from a loop of silk fabric suspended from the cieling – the other leg bent and hanging heavy behind me, toes reaching toward my head. I caught a glimpse in the mirror and thought how cool it was actually to be doing some of the same things I’d seen before in Cirque Du Soleil shows. Then, the instructor lead us to reach down to the floor, and wind in circles to twist our fabric and then hang in the same position while we let go and spun around and around, upside down in “teardrop”. This was the intoxicating part… I wanted to do this over and over. It felt so amazing! And while I was in this awesome state, I was having such a great time, smiling and observing as others in class were also giggling at the incredible things they were doing, I barely even remembered I was in a “fitness” class and that I was working nearly all the muscles in my body while holding myself up in this pose. (Although my body did seem to remember the next day, when I was sore in places I’d never been before!)
After so many years of experience in this type of mind-body fitness activity, it was absolutely refreshing to discover something new and so incredible. I’m now “hooked” and attend Antigravity Yoga classes a few times a week. The coolest thing is that there are progressively more challenging poses offered to students who are at intermediate and advanced levels, so classes never get boring. AND, you’re using your own strength, resistance level and your own body weight, so it’s like the workout is tailored exactly for you. I can’t wait for my next class. What’s next? Aerial Silks, where the silks are hanging straight down from the ceiling, not attched in the center like the Antigravity hammocks – which requires tons more leg, arm and core muscle strength! I know I’ll be glad to have worked my way up with the help of Antigravity Yoga! I think I’m going to install one in my home too! (The site actually sells everything you need to create your own Antigravity Yoga practice at home! how fun…)
Oh, and one last thing – for those of you who aren’t sure that Antigravity Yoga (or any yoga) counts as an extreme sport: please try a class for yourself and then get back to me… Or, you can talk to some of my friends (who are olympic athlete fighters-in-training) who I recently had the pleasure of teaching a yoga class with. One comment during a pause-between-poses and between heavy breaths during class: “Man, you yogis are some serious athletes!” (Enough said.)