Every time one of my fitness enthusiast friends attempts to drag me to one of these yoga studios, I’d just as soon storm out of the door and run away as fast I could. The thought of those impossible and seemingly bone-breaking poses scare me to wits. After all, I am what you can call a ‘dancelexic’, never the cheer-dancer in school, and always the last one to hit the dance floor in a rave, that is, after chugging five shots of alcohol.
But then, here comes AntiGravity Yoga, a new yoga fitness practice that actually uses a hammock. The hammock is a silk cloth hung from a ceiling that acts like a soft trapeze, from which one can perform yoga poses. Seems scary at first, but as Beyond Yoga instructor and co-owner Anna Carbonell explained, it’s actually easier for yoga newbies because the hammock supports the body along the way.
Anna assisting a student during a cocoon pose.
“The difference between the traditional and the AntiGravity yoga is the (use of the) hammock. You’d feel light and buoyant,” Anna says.
Lest you fear of tearing the silk and falling, the silk hammock apparatus is a structural fabric that can safely hold 2,000 pounds.
According to Anna, merely swinging can exercise your abs.
For starters, one can sit on the hammock comfortably. Remember our childhood, when we went swinging in the playground? Pulling your weight and swinging on the hammock can develop one’s abs.
If you have a bad back, Anna recommends doing the cocoon position, where you can just lie on your back – in mid-air. This results in zero compression spine, where you get to stretch your back and alleviate some of the pressure. That position sounds good to me. Can I do that the whole day, I asked Anna, to which she replied with a laugh.
Hooked on yoga
As Anna shared, AntiGravity yoga instantly became an addiction. She has been practicing traditional yoga for more than 10 years when she trained in AntiGravity teachers’ class in New York.
“(On) my first try, I said, ‘This is fun’ On the second try, ‘Oh wow’ The third, ‘Oh my God, I’m loving it,'” Anna says. And to add to the fun that comes with it, she was finally able to resolve her lower back pain, which has troubled her for years. Suddenly, she was standing straight with grace and without strain.
AntiGravity allows students to realign their body, build strength, increase flexibility, and relieve compressed joints. But for me, what sealed the deal is actually being able to suspend in mid-air, as if flying, ala-Cirque du Soleil – this, while reaping the health and fitness benefits. Yoga has never been as exciting and as graceful. If movie buffs are reading, think fight scenes using cloth that were executed in “Ju Dou” (1989) and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000).
From New York
AntiGravity instructors coined this the Spiderman pose.
AntiGravity is a revolutionary, new exercise technique developed by Christopher Harrison, a Broadway aerial choreographer, former-world class gymnastics specialist and elite coach in New York City.
His two passions being aerobics and yoga, Christopher found a way to fuse these two disciplines together. In the US, among celebrities that have defied gravity so to speak are Pink (famous for her 2010 Grammy Awards AntiGravity Performance), Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, Richard Branson and Nathan Lane.
Celebrating its 20th year, AntiGravity is now in Manila. Partnering with Beyond Yoga, AntiGravity’s founder Christopher Harrison is flying in to conduct two days of masters’ class on Dec. 3 and 4, and teacher training from Dec. 6 to 9.
“The masters’ class in open to everyone. The hammocks will be provided and are already set up at The Farm, Lipa, Batangas,” adds Anna. Come February, Beyond Yoga will offer regular AntiGravity classes in their studio, where a student can choose to have either a one-on-one session or a class with fellow students.
As Anna promised, one can easily do the inverted pose on the first try. With a series of simple moves, one can do the “Spiderman” position, where you are literally hanging upside down. This is called an inversion, which can revitalize one’s body and release the kinks in the muscles. While defying the laws of physics, AntiGravity is great for those who want a great core and an upper-body workout.
“You have to trust yourself first,” Anna advises first-timers. Trust issues aside, a student who is now in tune with the hammock can advance from basic moves to more difficult poses. In jest, Anna adds, “The inverted position is actually a natural facelift. Observe the people who do yoga. They look younger than their years.”
Beyond Yoga offers yoga and dance classes at Il Terrazzo, Tomas Morato corner Scout Madriñan Streets, Quezon City. Learn more about Beyond Yoga and AntiGravity Yoga by visiting www.igobeyondyoga.com or call (+63917) 5BEYOND (5239663).