THE BASICS: I’ve been trying to organise an anti-gravity yoga class for ages, but been reduced to scrapping around on big-named gym websites, who like to make it really difficult to book a class without being a member. It was so frustrating that I’d given up. And then, thanks to a recommendation from HB Dione, along came Aerial Yoga London – independent, small, and accessible for everyone. Love these hidden gems!
Aerial Yoga is a magical little 4 person studio, 10 minute walk from Whitechapel tube, nestled in a very zen room with a glass roof; the light floods in as you swing and stretch on your little hammock made of parachute material. £12 per class. To book in, you need to pay online via paypal an then email the studio to reserve you a spot at your chosen class. They will allocate your payment and confirm your reservation via email.
THE BITCHES: Carly and Dione
THE CLASS: So, the clocks went forward without telling anyone. I realised with horror that my 10am aerial yoga class was actually now taking place at what my body considered to be 9am, and nearly killed myself on the old Boris Bikes to make it down to Whitechapel in time on a sleepy Sunday morning.
Miraculously I was the first to arrive, and Richard our instructor padded to the door to let me in. His quiet, calm voice and gentle presence made my boris bike fury melt away, and I followed him down the stairs to the little hidden haven of an aerial yoga studio at the back of the house.
Dione, the Hot B who had originally told me all about this place, arrived next. Bless her, she had been out partying the previous night and so was slightly nervous about hanging upside down for any lengthy periods of time due to her ladylike hangover- what a trooper for turning up! Seriously, this girl’s enthusiasm knows no bounds.
Our final two class attendees turned up. As they did, I’d already hopped up into my little hammock and was lying in it, swinging and chilling without a care in the world.
First up, stretches. The height of the hammocks was adjustable and so we went through a series of swinging stretches that encouraged us to feel free and happy as well as warming us up for the class. We took several different poses, one on our knees with our body, arms and head leaning forward, supported by the hammock. Here we took big circles and leaning our weight on the material.
Richard then told us to hang, freestyle, with our legs on the ground but in whatever way felt most comfortable for the hammock to support our body weight. He encouraged us to close our eyes at this point (he did this a few times during class) so we could feel our own way into our pose, and not get influenced by shapes other class members were forming. I found myself hanging completely folded forwards with the hammock supporting my middle, my arms dangling free and my head heavy. It was very relaxing!
Richard had mentioned that aerial yoga pupils fell into two categories in terms of how they learned- listeners and watchers. So, some people could follow his words, and others needed a visual demonstration in order to replicate the poses. I fell into the listener camp, and was able to follow his instructions without looking at his actions too much. The fact that he was able to explain poses using just words that I – as a listener- was able to easily follow, illustrated that Richard was very good with simple, clear instructions to help us manipulate our bodies into poses.
During the main part of the class, we did as many acrobatics as we did yoga poses- in fact the two often crossed over. He’d say things like “and when you get into this pose. Just hang. Just enjoy hanging. Like a chimp. Just chilling.” and you’d then find yourself embodying a chimp and swinging from your hammock feeling mischevious and free. Every movement really did seem enhanced by the aerial aspect.
After chimp, came angel! Richard guided us into lengthening our our bodies, supported by the hammocks, and stretching from our fingers tips to our toes. It felt very graceful and again the aerial aspect meant we could really concentrate on our form, without gravity getting in the way.
This wasn’t flowing in any way (I think the Dynamic classes offer a more flowing style of aerial yoga), instead it was us watching, listening, and being instructed into a pose, and then just moving with it for a few incredibly enjoyable moments- whether that movement be swinging, rocking or wiggling. Without gravity getting in the way, each pose saw us swinging into it, enjoying it, exploring it.
Richard was calming, helpful and made the class feel playful. He would crack jokes and have a laugh with us, and his descriptions were funny. Never in a class have I been called a chimp, an angel and then encouraged to do a wiggly spider dance- it was unique and a hugely enjoyable.
The final savasana (lying very still and relaxing pose) saw us cocooned up in our swings, where Richard started us all rocking gently and then left us for a 5 minute chill. I felt like a little caterpillar in a chrysalis, it was so cosy and comforting- a whole new way of experiencing savasana.
Unfortunately I didn’t work out a way to hide in the hammock and stay in the studio all day, but I already have my next session booked in! This is definitely one for the must-visit list, girlies.
THE VERDICT: Really good fun, relaxing, explorative…. and surprisingly easy to pick up! A completely unique type of yoga that enhances the internal relaxation you get from a usual yoga class, but allows you to do so many more cool things thanks to gravity not being an issue. I would say this was bordering on acrobatics. I didn’t ache afterwards either; it was easy on the old bod and made me feel supple!
THE EXTRAS: I am taking three HBs from the Day Job along to a class next week! We’re going to have the whole studio to ourselves! Hopefully our employer will forgive me when we all leave to form a circus group to rival Cirque du Soleil…