Aerial Yoga Will Turn You Upside Down

Fear of heights? Fear not.

By Tuck Woodstock June 24, 2016 Published in the Health Annual: Summer 2016 issue of Portland Monthly

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A-WOL instructor Olivia Shaw practices a flying bound locust pose

Inside A-WOL Dance Collective’s warehouse-like digs in Northeast Portland, a half dozen yogis peacefully meditate—a foot above the floor. No, it’s not that their “practice” has evolved to include spontaneous levitation. They’re simply starting their aerial yoga class.

Introduced in 2007 as “AntiGravity Fitness,” aerial yoga uses silky fabric slings and acrobatic techniques to assist and deepen traditional poses. Students stretch inside cozy hammock cocoons, bend backward into supported heart openers, and dangle upside-down in inverted splits.

“You’re going beyond handstands into these true inversions,” explains A-WOL’s Rena Dimes. “You can get a genuine decompression by allowing gravity to do half the work for you.”

Scared of heights? No problem. Beginners spend most of class mere inches off the ground, with the floor in easy reach at all times. If you’re still not sold, consider this: class ends with a sling-supported savasana—in other words, a nap in a hammock.

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