Aerial Arts vs Aerial Yoga - The Difference and A Beginner's Guide to Aerial Fitness
With the rise of aerial recreational classes, no longer do you have to be born into a circus family, attend circus school, or travel the world with a bunch of acrobats performing full-time to be able to learn circus skills!
If you’re not too aware of what aerial is just yet (and you will be after you’re done reading this), it refers to any apparatus that’s hung in the air. That’s right - in an aerial class, you get exercise while also being suspended in the air! Because of this unique feature of aerial as a form of exercise, many are keen to give it a go - as they should be, because there’s nothing quite more liberating than swinging around, upside down!
One of the most frequently asked questions we get asked about aerial fitness is the difference between the two types; aerial arts and aerial yoga. Unsure which one to try out for yourself? In this article, we help break it down for you!
Aerial yoga makes use of suspended hammocks to strengthen and stretch the body through a flow of different asanas. If you’re a regular yogi, you may find some of the poses you do in an aerial yoga class looking and feeling pretty familiar to the ones that you'll have done in your traditional yoga practices and classes - the only difference being that you’re doing it with the support of a piece of fabric hanging from the ceiling!
In aerial yoga the suspension of the hammocks, relative to in aerial arts, is much closer to the floor making it a great option for those of you who are afraid of heights and are reluctant to be swinging around too far from the ground (we'll rid those fears, don't worry - baby steps!).
Aerial yoga is suitable for anyone and everyone. With a swath of soft fabric bolstering your body and keeping you off the ground, whether you’re totally inexperienced, a beginner or advanced yogi, aerial yoga is an effective way to challenge and improve your strength and flexibility. In aerial yoga, gravity deepens stretches and challenges you with greater instability. This creates a more intense workout that will build your upper body and core strength, all while reducing stress in the joints and spine, and providing a medium for deep relaxation too. Besides being a fun and intense workout, aerial yoga is also thought to improve mental focus and concentration, while lifting your mood and relieving stress!
A somewhat less self-explanatory term than aerial yoga, aerial arts (sometimes also termed “aerial circus” or “cirque style fitness”) is a broad term covering a bunch of different activities. These activities comprise of different aerial apparatus such as aerial silks and hoops. The techniques of the moves that are done on these suspended silks and hoops are often similar to the techniques used in established aerial arts like Trapeze, a short suspended bar, or Corde Lisse, a soft cotton rope!
Unlike aerial yoga, aerial arts is regarded as a type of dance. It requires a substantial amount of strength, stamina, flexibility, balance, control, and grace to master - so don’t expect to be amazing at it on your first go! Like many other forms of art, it takes consistent training and progression to gain the capabilities to perform more demanding techniques. While we can’t guarantee that you’ll be swinging like a pro within the first session, we can guarantee that the experience of mastering a new skill on the hoops or silks will be an extremely thrilling incentive to keep you wanting to come back for more!
Aerial arts is an excellent full-body workout for building strength and flexibility in the arms, shoulders, back, and core while also conditioning balance. Movements done on the silks and hoops accommodate a wide range of skill levels, whether you’re a beginner or a person with experience in pole dancing or other forms of aerial arts!
What you need to know before attending your first class
Wear form-fitting, comfortable clothing. Loose fitting clothes can make it difficult to move and have a tendency to get in the way of the apparatus that you’re working with.
Go barefoot. You won’t be needing shoes for your aerial workout!
Avoid using hand lotion. Your hands will be doing a lot of work for you as you’re suspended in the air, so hands that can maintain your grip on the apparatus would be ideal!
Remove jewelry and watches. This is to avoid ripping or getting tangled in the apparatus.
Stay hydrated with plenty of water before the workout. This will prepare you for the intense workout ahead!
If you’re eating or drinking prior to your workout, try fuelling yourself with a light meal and avoid any soft drinks or acidic liquid. You may be performing movements upside down, so this is just to avoid any discomfort in the gut.
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