Let’s face it, tight hamstrings are an epidemic in the modern world. There is a lot of sitting- driving to work, sitting at the desk, lounging on the couch. So, coming to an aerial yoga practice may highlight the fact you have tight hamstrings. Aerial yoga does have a tendency to show where we may need some improvement.
Tight hamstrings are often seen in combination with a tight lower back. So, it’s also important to free up the hips and spine when working with the hamstrings. All of our body parts are interrelated, after all.
Others may come to the aerial hammock because they already have their splits and want to go deeper. Either way, the hammock is going to benefit the seeker. Let’s look at some ways you can use the hammock to deeper your hamstring stretching!
@aerialyogaelaine in our Pink Champagne Aerial Hammock
Stand with the hammock in front of you. Place one ankle in the hammock loop. Some rules of thumb:
Swing the leg side to side to loosen up the hips while you maintain your balance. Then hold the hammock with one hand and twist to one side and the other. Make sure you hold for a few breaths. Come back to the center and fold forward over the leg. Stay for 5-10 breaths.
You can also try this seated for a yin variation and hold for longer to really get juicy!
Start in the same position as Standing Leg Extension, except this time hold onto the hammock and slide the hips forward and down into a split position. Remember, it’s not a stretching contest and stay at your edge without going over. Take 5-10 breaths, keeping the chest lifted and core active.
@aerialyogaelaine in our Height Adjustable Portable Aerial Rig
Keep the foot in the hammock loop and simply pivot around so the hammock is behind you now. Fold forward and place the hands on the floor. Begin to walk the hands back as you straighten the front leg. If needed, place your hands on blocks for support. Stay for 5-10 breaths and slowly walk the hands back forward.
The last two poses in particular work with a concept that circus artists and aerialists call oversplits. This is when you see an artist such as an acrobat performing a split that is over 180 degrees past the straight line. Their secret? They use the concept of oversplits in their training.
Traditional circus training on the ground will put the front or back foot on a block (or three) while doing the splits as they push the hips down to the floor. We are essentially using the same concept with the hammock!
Now, you may just be working on getting your full splits and that’s fine! The concept of the oversplit still stretches your muscles and fascia deeper with the effect of gravity pulling down on your body toward the empty space below.
It’s always a great idea to try your ground splits after these stretches on the aerial yoga hammock and see how much they improve! You might even find any issues in the lower back or hips also begin to relieve themselves as the hamstrings open up. You really can’t go wrong stretching out the hamstrings in today’s culture!
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