“Can I Practice my Aerial Yoga outside in the winter?” is a very good question – one that I have been asking myself as I face my first winter in the UK for 7 years, living in a tier-three area preventing me from making it to my studio of choice with ease and I want to use my own equipment. I have been practising during the cold autumn months outside (when it’s not raining) – but it’s beginning to get a little cooler now, a bit damper and the fingers and toes are beginning to complain a little.
The great thing about aerial yoga, sling, silks and other aerial arts is that you can be fully clothed to do it. So I started layering up with thermal wear, big jumpers and hats. But then I felt that I had an excessive number of layers on, and began thinking how can I keep this up during the colder winter months…….I investigated and came up with a ton of solutions based on winter gear for runners, hikers and even skiers.
Practising postures and asanas during the winter months is looking a whole lot more doable. With a good warm-up session (some of which could be inside), some professional warm gear and some warm juice in a flask I think we might be able to practise outside all year round. Which is brilliant – nobody wants to be kept from doing a sport they love just because it’s a bit cold outside. The rain may be a bit of a hindrance but so far winter seems to be being quite kind to me and is staying dry.
There are plenty of reasons to make sure that we hang upside during the dark winters months, during a year that has been a little bit unusual.
Benefits of Practising in the Winter Months
Apart from the benefits of doing aerial yoga at any time of year – which we list elsewhere on the site, there are some great reasons to set up your equipment in December, January and February. Exercise in winter can provide more benefits than exercise during the rest of the year because it specifically answers our winter body needs.
Here are the 16 benefits of aerial yoga outside in the winter –
- Increased Blood flow and circulation to all the arteries and veins – the body has to use and switch on its internal radiator.
- Burn more energy and fat stores – due to more energy being required to heat up the body’s core temperature.
- The body’s immune system is tested against the cold and therefore has to improve itself.
- Cooler temperatures than summer for outdoor exercise = less sweat/smell!
- We can offset and balance the damage done by Christmas treats and family meals.
- Embracing the outdoors and remembering nature is our friend, not the enemy.
- Reducing the risk of injury for trips and falls on icy paths – by strengthening the body, using daily workouts.
- Improved cardiovascular system – from breathing in the cold, crisp air and using outdoor training workouts.
- Increased mental strength and robustness.
- New beliefs about working out can be achieved “when the going gets tough”.
- The body will be ready for skiing / active holidays at a moment’s notice.
- Improved chances of better workout – because you have to push yourself physically harder to get warmer in the cold.
- Increased chance of enjoying an indoor gym and the benefits of this type of training e.g. weights / TRX/ group classes.
- Increased resting metabolism – due to tapping into the bodies reserves in the cold.
- Improves the mind by lifting the mood when it’s darker or cloudier in winter.
- Get to feel like Rocky training outdoors in the snow in the movie Rocky 4 in Russia!
Warm Up First
Warming up before exercise prepares your cardiovascular system for physical activity, by increasing the blood flow to your muscles, and raising the temperature of your body. It also helps to lower the risk of getting injured — when your muscles are adequately warmed up, the movements, stretches, and strain you put on them during your workout is less severe. This also minimizes muscle soreness. Obviously, when it’s cold we need to take extra care to warm up those muscles as we don’t want to injure ourselves or put undue stress on our cardiovascular system and heart.
Benefits of Warming Up
- Improved Performance
Warming up improves your athletic performance in the following ways:
- Improved Blood Flow — Warming up for 10 minutes with an easygoing activity improves blood flow to your skeletal muscles, and opens up blood capillaries. Your blood carries the oxygen needed for your muscles to function, so increasing your blood flow is one of the best things you can do to set your muscles up for a workout.
- Improved Oxygen Efficiency — When you do a warm-up exercise, oxygen is released from your blood more readily, and at higher temperatures. Your muscles demand higher amounts of oxygen while exercising, so it’s important to make this oxygen more available through a warm-up activity.
- Faster Muscle Contraction/Relaxation — Warming up with physical activity raises your body temperature, which in turn, improves your nerve transmission and muscle metabolism. The end result? Your muscles will perform faster and more efficiently.
- Injury Prevention
Warming up prevents injuries by loosening your joints, and improving blood flow to your muscles — making your muscles less likely to rip, tear, or twist in a harmful way during your workout. Stretching also helps prepare your muscles for the physical activities you’re about to perform.
- Mental Preparation
A side benefit of warming up is that your brain will become focused on your body and your physical activity as you go through the process. This focus will carry over into your training session to help you to improve your technique, coordination, and skill.
But as we are outside in the cold we may need to lower our expectations of what we can achieve – but some training is better than no training, right?
What To Wear
What you wear will of course be somewhat dependant on where in the world you live. In Northern England, it’s not going to be quite as cold as it is in Canada or the Northern US states of course. But being a nesh (unusually susceptible to cold weather 🙂 ) kind of person you will see me wearing almost as much gear as someone practising outside in Alaska.
Thermal layers, thick socks, hats and gloves spring to mind when you think outside exercise. I’d say put on whatever you have, there is no need to spend extra money on special gear. But if you get to the stage where you are wearing everything you own it might be time to invest in some special winter gear. No one has designed gear especially for aerial yoga in the winter but there are plenty of sports we can steal ideas and gear from.
Thermal, fleece-lined leggings, Sticky American football gloves, thermal or even electric heated socks, vests, thermal long-sleeved tops, thick woolly jumpers, aerial yoga socks or even ski boots if you don’t plan on standing/wrapping your feet in the hammock.
We have written a post on the best thermal gear of aerial hammocks. Take a look and discover the best things to buy for practising asanas and postures in the winter months.
Obviously, if your fingers are falling off and you are hating it – pack up and go inside…..get some hot chocolate and snuggle in front of the fire. Get back to outside training when it warms up a bit.
Sophie Green has been pole dancing and aerial arts at home and in studios around the world for over 13 years. She’s taken a number of instructor courses in pole and aerial. Plus attended a course on rigging. She takes part in lots of exercise.