June 21 is International Day of Yoga. View Today spoke to Candice Baker from Bedfordview-based business Zero Gravity Yoga about the benefits of yoga as well as their exciting fusion of aerial skills and traditional yoga.
1. Why is yoga so popular and what are the benefits?
People are moving away from traditional religions and becoming more spiritual, and yoga and meditation are great spiritual practices. Yoga is good for your body, for stretching and toning and both yoga and meditation are great for stress relief. In meditation, there is a nice quote: ‘To pray is to talk to the universe, whereas to meditate is to listen to the universe’. So I think that is why yoga is becoming increasingly important as people are learning to listen to the universe and using it to find direction in their lives.
2. What are the benefits of aerial yoga compared to traditional yoga?
With aerial yoga, you’re doing postures supported by fabric, so it literally turns traditional yoga on its head. Doing poses in the hammock provides a lot more health benefits as opposed to those done on the mat. Aerial yoga allows your spine to decompress as if you’re in traction because you get to hang upside down – only a few feet off the ground. You could pay a physiotherapist to do that for you at triple the price.
Every pose that is difficult on the mat becomes effortless in aerial yoga because you’re being supported inside the fabric. So with headstands, handstands, any inversion or difficult posture, you have the fabric wrapped around you and it really helps you to achieve those poses while still being supported.
This also applies to your basic poses, like the warrior pose, which is a lunge. If you elevate one leg while suspended in the hammock, you’re achieving a much deeper stretch because the leg is elevated. So you’re getting a similar stretch to what a gymnast or ballerina would with their leg on a chair.
The session ends with a relaxation session where you’re lying down in a hammock instead of on a cold floor or a hard yoga mat. You’re actually floating in the air in a hammock while you relax and meditate. It is an amazing benefit and will probably be the best 10 minutes of your day. It’s very therapeutic and restorative.
3. Is aerial yoga beginner-friendly?
Yes, it accommodates all fitness levels. In any yoga class, the participant performs the yoga to the best of their ability and improves from there, and the same applies to aerial yoga – it’s for everyone. It’s also an individual journey – you will take the pose as far as is comfortable for you. As you get better, you get to do some cool aerial moves similar to those you see in a circus.
Zero Gravity Yoga also has studios in Benoni and Germiston.
Contact details: +27 (0) 83 361 3255 www.zerogravityoga.com