Guest Contributor: Kylie Carrigan
Aerial Yoga, Silks, Tissu, Ribbons, Hammock, Rope, Corde Lisse, Hoop, Lyra, Trapeze, Pole—why are aerial fitness classes blowing up and what are the differences between all of them?
Aerial workouts are suddenly everywhere. There are studios in nearly every city, celebrities like Troian Bellisario and Jennifer Garner are doing it, and P!nk regularly uses aerial in her performances. So what are they?
These exercise classes use fabric, ropes, hoops, trapeze bars, and other equipment to fuse pilates-style core strengthening techniques with gymnastics and dance choreography to give you a whole-body workout and increase your flexibility. Each aerial apparatus offers something different and you’ll want to know what you’re getting yourself into before signing up. Which type of aerialist are you?
Aerial Yoga classes teach traditional yoga asanas but with participants’ body weight supported by an aerial hammock (aerial fabric folded in half and suspended in a U-shape from the ceiling). With weight supported in the air, you can fully extend and relax into poses and postures without holding yourself up or balancing on the ground, allowing for deeper stretching and greater relaxation. Places like Up Flying Yoga are making this a normal practice and are a great place to try this new yoga style.
Aerial hammock is the name of the apparatus used in aerial yoga, but it is also a style of aerial practice of its own. Aerial hammock classes begin to take you higher off the ground and focus on strength-based skills and techniques to wrap the fabric around you and perform dance and acrobatic choreography, always supported by the U-shape of the hammock.
Aerial silk is the same fabric used to make a hammock, but hung from the ceiling so that two straight lengths of fabric (sometimes called “tails”) reach to the floor. Advanced aerialists often perform on incredibly long silks hung from 20+ foot heights. Silks classes will teach you to climb the fabric and perform dance and acrobatic choreography but without a supportive hammock to hold you in the air.
Other Aerial Apparatuses
Corde Lisse is french for “climbing rope” and is very similar to aerial silk, but with a single rope that aerialists climb, wrap, and use to perform choreography.
Lyra is the name for an aerial hoop, which aerialists sit inside of to perform flexibility and strength-based poses.
Trapeze is a metal bar at the base of two ropes and can be performed “flying” (swinging from a platform) or “static,” much like lyra to display strength and flexibility.
Pole is a tall metal pole installed from floor to ceiling. Though often associated with exotic dancing, aerial pole choreography is often designed to show the beautiful lines of a ballet dancer and requires great strength and grace.
When enrolling in your aerial class, be sure to select the apparatus and skill level that best suits your needs. Practicing your best Warrior 1 posture won’t help much in an aerial silks class! And when in doubt, contact the studio to be sure you know what you’re signing up for.
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