Why swing around doing acrobatics in a hammock?

Updated: May 14

This isn't the latest fitness craze.. well it is, but I believe its here to stay, and for very good reasons. Aerial has been available at ENERGYBODi nearly 8 years now and we are not surprised to see the growth and interest due to the huge benefits.

Ten years ago, I saw a FB profile of my good friend, Amanda Franklin, hanging upside down and immediately said 'I want to do that!' . Now that might not be your reaction but there is a lot more to it than acrobatics and hanging upside down.

12 months later I was qualified to teach Aerial Yoga. Apart from the fact it looked fun, I remembered my back pain from a few decades ago and really needing to hang upside down for a back injury that had become chronic in my late teens/early twenties. I used to thread my legs through 'open' steps and hang to ease my back pain. It was as good as the traction the physiotherapists gave me. This is one of the great benefits of Aerial, the decompression of the spine and intervertebral discs during inversion, but there's much more to understand and BODi Aerial can be so therapeutic.

Over the time I was teaching Aerial I was surprised at the number of people who who were 'off centre' and wobbling, many with a Yoga background, while using the aerial hammock. Many people who are attracted to Yoga are already super bendy. This wobbling is a lack of stability and awareness of the centre of gravity which is vital to the support of our spine, joints and our posture.

Understanding where our centre of gravity is, when working with a moving Aerial hammock, then choosing how much or little weight we put in the hammock means our centre of gravity constantly changes and hence is a core challenge. This develops stability alongside flexibility. We are not static. Which is the same in everyday life.

Centre of gravity/mass changes when we are moving or carrying things.

It is the play of finding our centre that makes Aerial such a great practice.

It's a great core workout as well as heightening our self awareness and propreoception.

The balance between stability and flexibility is crucial to optimal, fluid, efficient movement. If you are Stiff and inflexible e.g. to much stability, resulting in aches and pains, Aerial is for you !

However, being the super bendy flexible (yoga) person, while looking amazing, is not always that great. Indeed it can come with a host of joint/back problems over time if there isn't a balanced amount of stability along with it.

Back extensions, used in many popular yoga photos, are great for your back, IF you have first relaxed and lengthened the muscles AND then engage with core stability around the spine. Otherwise a spine extension can cause a lot of compression of the inter-vertebral discs and possible impingement.

A tight muscle is a weak muscle.

Tight muscles on either side of your spine can often happen when your body is 'protecting' your spine. This is either due to an injury and/or an imbalance of opposing lack of stability, in a 3 dimensional direction. Over time it becomes chronic and causes all sorts of back and joint problems.

This brings us to the core. That modern fitness craze word. So lets blow away a few misconceptions. Core is not 'your six pack' or your stomach. For a start your stomach is an organ set off to the slight left of your lower ribs, and your six pack has 8 sections, is a surface muscle and like the icing on the cake, it's only a very small part in the stability of your 'core'.

Our core as defined at ENERGYBODi, comprises of our pelvis, rib cage, head and the connector of spine plus the integration of muscles throughout all these structures extending into our extremities of the arms and legs. Hopefully at this point you are now thinking 'That must be a lot of muscles and seems like most of my body! ' Yes, one fully integrated whole structure, rather like a basket weave of opposing compression and tension, flexibility and stability, to find complete balance and harmony.

Where have all the monkey bars gone?

Aerial engages the upper body and shoulder girdle in its optimum way, i.e. reaching overhead, swinging, hanging your body weight on your arms and also pulling up from a hanging position. How often do you do that?

I love this picture, isn't he cute? This is what the shoulder was designed to do. Children's playgrounds once upon a time were full of monkey bars, its a great shame they are rare now. Children's bodies, as they are developing are missing this very important movement. Not only does it build a strong and stable shoulder, it releases a lot of tension around that area. We would have far less incidence of frozen shoulder and impingement if people were using their shoulders more in this way. What do you do in your daily life or exercise routine that requires you to reach over head and release your body weight down? This alone would ease so much tension in the neck and shoulders.

So there is more to this acrobatic swinging in a hammock. Its not all glamour and fancy yoga shots and its not all upside down, but everyone loves an upside down shot!

We are deepening our self awareness and gaining a body that moves better, with strength, support and fluidity and along the way we gain a huge amount of self confidence and achievement along with friendships and fun.

We have only begun to touch on the benefits of BODi Aerial, if all that hasn't tempted you, how about the relaxation, soothing music while curled up in a the hammock to finish your session.

We would love you to join us.

Check out when our next BODi Aerial Fundamentals is happening. This 2 hour workshop gives you lots of time to ask questions, get to know your hammock have fun and see what its all about.

Heather Parsons

Creator of The ENERGYBODi Sensation

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