A Beginners Guide to Aerial Yoga

aerial yoga for beginners

The world of aerial yoga can seem a little intimidating sometimes, especially for beginners. If all you have seen of flying yoga is students hanging upside down or doing what looks like a summersault into the fabric. You might be a bit nervous about committing yourself to a block of lessons.  But this style of yoga that takes you up into the air, at times, does not need to be that extreme for newcomers. However, once you have taken your first swing, you’ll probably find yourself hooked!

To help you get started, we’ve condensed our years of anti-gravity yoga knowledge into this handy beginner’s guide, filled with our tried-and-tested tips for aerial yoga for beginners.

Overview of Aerial Yoga for Beginners

“Is aerial yoga suitable for beginners?” is a very common question that potential students ask. 

The answer to that question is yes, all of the aerial yoga poses can be adapted for any level of student. There are of course poses that are more suited to those that have been taking floating yoga for some time. But there is no shortage of moves that beginners can do. 

Some schools will offer a class where mat based poses are mixed with aerial yoga moves to get students used to the hammock. But in our experience there are plenty of moves that aerial yoga beginners will be able to do with very little effort. 

Classes for beginners will often feature postures that get you used to gripping and holding the fabric, learning to trust it and developing a relationship with it. 

What Happens at a beginners aerial yoga Class?

https://www.mindful.org/how-to-meditate/When thinking about taking your very first Aerial Yoga for beginners class it’s totally normal to feel nervous. Those new will often have many questions such as is it safe, is there an upper weight limit, how hard will it be, what should I wear and what will happen in class? 

In this section, our aim was to talk you through what happen before and during a class. 

Health Survey

When you arrive at your first class, or even before you arrive you might be asked to complete a form just to check that aerial yoga is suitable for you. Whilst most people will be fine with the classes, there are a few contraindications.

Setting Up The Hammock 

After the survey has been completed, the instructor will set up the hammock so that it is just right for you. The hammock needs to be hung so that the bottom of the loops is set to the correct height for your hips. The bottom of the loops should be at hip height. This is so that students can reach the hammock to sit in it and when they invert there is enough space so that the head doesn’t hit the floor.

Breathing & Warm Up 

The class will start with some simple breathing exercises to get the student in the right time and space for the class. A series of simple exercises will the be performed to mobilise and warm the body up. This may feature some sun salutations or yoga sequences that are suitable for new comers. 

The Work Out

The work out will depend on the intentions of the class as well as the style of the class. But in general you will be taken through a series of postures such as a basic invert so you can decompress the spine followed by flows and sequences that aim to improve flexibility, strengthen the legs, arms or abdominals and then you will invert again into a simple invert. These inverts may get progressively more advanced over the weeks and eventually turn into fun tricks. 

Relaxation & Meditation

You will then climb or flip into the hammock for savasana and perhaps a guided meditation. You will immerge from your womb like cocoon relaxed and refreshed. 

You will leave your aerial yoga beginner class wanting more!

10 beginner Aerial Yoga Poses You Need to Know

These 10 poses are a complete aerial yoga workout for beginners. Move slowly through each pose, remembering to breathe as you move. Pause after any pose you find challenging, especially if you are short of breath, and start again when your breathing returns to normal. The idea is to hold each pose for a few, slow breaths before moving on to the next one.

  • Chair with a back sling – this can be transitioned to a backward lean and then to a forward lean.
  • Cresent lunge
  • Warrior III
  • Warrior II
  • Standing pigeon pose
  • Downward dog
  • Wide leg bend
  • Standing in the hammock. Once students have mastered simply climbing to stand in the loop they can try transitioning between sitting and standing. 
  • Floating Butterfly Pose
  • Savasana

These are very popular moves that will frequently pop up in aerial yoga for beginners classes, but there are actually over 100 aerial yoga moves. There are some brilliant resources available to buy that teach all of the poses a beginner would need. Some resources such as online lessons have put all of the beginners moves into aerial yoga sequences for beginners to follow. 

How Have Aerial Yoga Beginner Poses Been Developed?

Well, if you pick any posture from traditional mat-based yoga forms and you can do it in on the aerial yoga hammock or swing. The great thing about using the fabric is that it enables the yoga poses to be performed in more than one way. The arms or legs could be suspended or the fabric could be used as a backpack for support.

Think about a warrior III pose. The hands could grip the fabric to help a student balance, one foot could be suspended in the hammock for support or the asanas could be completed whilst the hammock is wrapped around the shoulders like a backpack. 

Another example is a pigeon pose. This can be done whilst standing with the fabric is worn like a back pack, on the floor using the hands for support, the one leg behind us could be suspended or the move can even be performed whilst inverted and suspended in the air. 

As you can see from these two examples the use of fabric means three are are multiple options when using the hammock to help students who might find a pose hard on a mat without assistance or it adds variety to a practice. 

Then after all of the mat based poses have been tried, practitioners can then look towards new moves that are perhaps more acro yoga based or circus based.

downward dog

What Class Is Right for Me?

Aerial yoga is a relatively new concept that has emerged over the last 10-15 years. In that time several aerial yoga schools have emerged including Air Yoga, AntiGravity Yoga, Xpert Hammock Yoga, Yoga Body and Unnata Aerial Yoga to name but a few. 

Along with these different schools, there are many different styles. We have listed some of them below but we are sure there will be more springing up in the future. There are often blurred lines between the different styles 

Due to its infancy, there may not be different styles, they may be just put under the umbrella of aerial yoga. 

A full aerial yoga class will typically include warm-ups, core-work, inversions, legs and some restorative work. Other classes may build on one or more of these areas or focus more on trips and flips. 

Restorative

Practised close to the floor, in this style of aerial yoga postures are passively held for 3-5 minutes. It works on the deep, dense (Yin) connective tissues and joints in the body. Some find it to be a profoundly healing practice. Restorative aerial yoga poses are where the mind, body, emotions & spirit are re-aligned. 

Gentle Flow

mprove your flexibility, strength & balance by adding this aerial yoga class to your weekly schedule. This slower moving class, designed to complement a mat-based practice, is accessible to those just starting their journey as well as experienced aerial yogis! It includes suspended stretching, zero-compression inversions (held for short period of time) and FUN! 

Invigorating

The advantage of the fabric is that poses can be taken up into the air, so for example a warrior II could be performed in the hammock – this will give the legs a really good workout. 

In this category, you may also see vinyasa style flows popping up. These really get your heart pumping and build strength in those upper arms and chest.

Deep Flow

A class of this nature would help students to build flexibility and strength with the assistance of the aerial silks. You could expect postures to be held for 4-7 minutes, awakening your body and clearing your mind. Expect deep hip, back and leg openings with longer holds to gain increased mobility

non Inversion Flow

If inverting is just not for you, then this is the class for you. The aerial hammock will be sued to assist in building balance and strength, improving alignment in a variety of poses and enhancing relaxation. Think mat-based yoga with the fabric used to aid balance and help you hold strong postures for longer.

acrobatic

In this style, a studio will teach you how to use the hammock for more advanced and more acrobatic tricks. You will gain strength and flexibility while having fun with flips, tricks and inversions. At the end of most classes, you would flip yourself into the hammock and the class cocooned in the hammock!

Trapeze Yoga

Depending on where you take a yoga trapeze class the equipment used may vary. Some schools may employ a circus style trapeze, a horizontal bar made out of wood. Although it is more likely to be a yoga swing which is a hammock made out of nylon parachute material. In addition to the hammock there are 1 to three sets of handles which can be used 

What Gear Do You Need

Clothes

You should wear form-fitting clothes made from breathable cotton that cover the underarms and the legs. Ideally wear a T-shirt and leggings, although once you are experienced and used to the fabric around your legs you may want to wear shorts. 

It’s a good idea to avoid materials that are shiny and slippery as they may make it harder to stay in the fabric. 

Avoid non-breathable fabrics as these could become uncomfortable and stimulate sweating. 

Women may want to want to wear a properly fitted sports bra, as wardrobe issues during inversions and other upside-down poses and transitions are not uncommon. 

No Socks,  No Shoes

Socks or yoga socks are optional and will depend on your and the teacher’s opinion on wearing socks in class.

What Not To Wear

As well as wearing the correct clothes, there are some things you should NOT wear. This is for safety reasons and to protect the fabric from tears and snags. Your teacher will probably ask you to remove shoes, jewellery of ANY kind, including earrings, clothing with zips, gems, sequins, glitter, or other sharp or abrasive surfaces.

If you are thinking of investing in some of the best aerial yoga clothes to wear to class take a look at our post on this. 

Yoga Mats

Most studios will provide yoga mats and crash mats for those doing more advanced moves, or they did before Covid. Mats prevent you from slipping and sliding so that you have a stable base for transitioning from one pose to the next.

Since covid, other hygiene reasons and because some students develop a strong preference for a certain type of mat many choose to or are required to take their own mat to aerial yoga for beginners classes.

If you are looking to buy your own yoga mat, we have done a complete review of your options.

Anything Else

You don’t need to take much to a class but usually, you are asked to take water and maybe a sweat towel.

Some more advanced classes may suggest you invest in resin to help with gripping the silks. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Whilst it’s not a good idea to have a big meal before you go to an aerial yoga class it is a good idea to have something in your stomach so that you don’t get dizzy. 

Eating something small 30-45 minutes before class like yoghurt, cereal and fruit; smoothie can be peanut butter, milk, bananas, and oats; apple with almond butter and raisins; or sports drinks and cereal bars. These small meals will provide protein and energy essential for building muscles and having enough energy to take part in the class. 

Some people do get dizzy during a class. To prevent this eat a small meal before class and don’t invert immediately after doing any moves like jumping lunges or running on the spot. 

If you do get dizzy you can sit in a seated child pose or lay on the floor until it has passed. 

To prevent dizziness, when you come up from an inversion it is a good idea to adopt a position where the head is level with the knees and hang out there for a few seconds until the dizziness has passed.  When you come out of a move where you flip in a summersault like manner come up to standing very slowly. 

You will feel refreshed, taller and lighter.  Your muscles will have a worked.

No experience of yoga is required. In fact, many people who take up aerial yoga have never taken a regular yoga class. 

Whilst the maximum weight that has been made by a reputable company and not mass-produced in China are designed to hold up to 250lb, there is no reason why a plus-sized person should not take part in an aerial yoga class.