Progressive-based aerial yoga practice is very helpful for both beginner and advanced aerialists. The following poses can help relieve stress while building strength in core muscles and improving postures.
As you would in all aerial classes, begin with a good stretch. It is always important to warm up your body before practicing to avoid unnecessary injury. Starting at the backside of your hammock, grab onto the fabric like a rope separating your hands to create a small space. Lift and trap your left knee over the material, reaching up high, tug and hop forward with your standing foot. Make sure you're centered below where the hammock hangs.
Begin to bend your elbows as you draw your hands down toward the crown of your head. Next, lean forward with your left knee and gently pulse forward with your knee as you pull the hammock back toward your body, drawing the elbows back and down. Remember to breathe as you slowly deepen the stretch.
If your heel begins to rise from the mat, gently press the heel back down to get a nice lower hamstring stretch along the right side. You can also pulse the hammock further back, drawing the left thigh toward your abdomen and engaging the hamstring along the back of the left knee. Slowly come back to the center.
From here, lift onto the ball of your right foot and begin to lean forward with your bent knee. Drawing your hands back and down toward the shoulder, pull forward, leading with your knee, hip, and pelvic bone. Once again, pulse the fabric back toward you with elbows bent to steady yourself and further deepen the stretch.
Returning to the center, take the fabric and track the arch of your left foot. Slightly turn your toes diagonal on your standing foot to avoid overextending the ankle. As you reach up high on the hammock, extend the left leg. Begin to lean forward with your left foot as you draw your hands down closer to your head. Once again, begin with gentle pulses. Press down and forward with your pelvic bone, hips, and left trapped foot.
Remember to keep your heel down on the mat for this part of the stretch. Slowly come back to center, reach up high as you can, lift your right heel off the ground, and begin to lean forward with your left trap foot.
You may start to sway or lose balance here. Use your right hand to simply draw the fabric back and down toward your head and shoulder. As you extend your left arm high above your head, manipulate the hammock to help steady your balance. Once again, begin pulsing forward using your hips and left leg. Don't forget to take deep breaths here.
Drawing the body back to center, bend your knee, bring your heel toward your body, and find the back edge of the hammock underneath the arch of your foot. Draw the edge all the way up your leg to the top of your thigh and keep your toes out the front edge of the material to anchor the fabric in place.
As you hold on to the back edges of the hammock, slowly start to open up your hips as you sway your trapped leg back and forth. After a few large sways, stop with your left leg open to the left side of the room and hold the hammock. Grabbing onto the two edges closest to you, hop with your standing foot to center yourself with the hammock.
You can continue holding on to the back edges of the hammock to help you with your balance. As you begin to lean toward the left, open up into a nicely supported standing straddle. It helps to keep the toes of your standing foot outwards towards the right side of the room. Once again, begin to sink your hips down toward the mat. Slowly bring yourself back to the center and bend your right knee.
Place your right hand on top of your thigh, grabbing the front sail of the hammock with your left hand. Begin to deepen your straddle as you extend your right knee slowly. Draw your right hand down toward your shin, ankle, or the top of your foot. Here, you can take your gaze up to the ceiling straight ahead or down towards your standing foot. Continue with those deep breath cycles.
Slowly begin to bend your knee once again, drawing it over the ankle and bringing both hands down to either side of your standing foot with tented fingertips to the mat. As you rotate your chest and abdomen to the thigh, turn with your left trapped leg, and rotate your knee down into the hammock. You can stay where you're at, gently pulsing the trapped foot back or fully extending that right knee.
Slowly drop your nose toward your knee for a full side straddle stretch. Gently bend the knee back over the ankle, walk your hands to the top of your knee to study your body as you slowly raise up. Grab onto the back edges of the hammock once again with both hands and release your trapped leg.
Let's go ahead and do that again on the right side, this time finding a little more fluidity with our movement as we pair our breath with these stretches. Trapping that right knee over the hammock, take a big breath in. As you exhale, slowly begin to lean forward with the knee. Once again, keep the left heel on the mat from reaching that point of resistance where you want to lift the heel.
Begin to slowly pulse forward from there, breathing into the tightness you feel in your legs, hips, and thighs. As you exhale, release tension sinking further forward and down.
Resetting ourselves back at center, lift your left heel as we inhale, then drop your right knee forward as you exhale. Inhale pulse forward a few times, driving your pelvic bone and hips forward and down. Exhale as you press the right knee forward and hold for a breath.
Dropping your heel, as you come back to center once again, track the arch of the right foot in the fabric and grab up high as you turn your left toes out. Inhale as you begin to lean forward with your right foot, exhale as you gently press forward and pulse with your hips toward the mat. Take a couple of breaths here before coming back to the center to readjust.
Now, lift your left heel off the mat as you inhale. Exhale and begin to press the right foot forward. Remember to use the hammock in your hands to manipulate your balance here, adding pulses with your breath to deepen the stretch.
Drop your heel down as you draw your right foot back into the center. Find the back edge of the hammock and extend your leg forward as you draw the material to the top of the thigh. Hold the back two edges closest to you as you rotate the right leg out to the side. Make sure you're centered with the hammock.Begin to gently sway the wrapped leg back and forth from right to left, taking nice big inhales and exhales as you gently open your hips. After a few full sways, hold with your right leg open, finding the back edges of the hammock with your hands as you lean into the right side and turn your left toes out. Melt your hips down as you breathe deeply into the supported straddle stretch.
Now, bend your left knee, drawing it over the ankle and bringing your right hand to the front sail. As you drop your left palm onto the top of your knee, slowly extend the left knee, sending your hand down the shin toward your foot. Take a few deep breaths here.
Slowly bend the knee back over the ankle as you drop both hands down to either side of your foot, dropping your chest and belly onto the top of your thigh. Remember to rotate the right knee to face down in the hammock. Breathe here as you slowly pulse your right leg back, extend your left knee, drop your nose down toward the knee, and breathe into this side straddle stretch. Slowly bend the knee, drawing it back to the ankle. Bring your hands to the top of your thighs as you slowly come back up to standing.
From here, we'll go right into part one of our sequences. Make sure the hammock is pulled all the way up to the top of the thigh, and now draw your heel toward you as you bring your toes into the front edge of the material. Holding onto the back edges of the fabric, take a hop to the left side of your hammock. Bend your knees out wide as you draw your heel close to the body, similar to a half-crisscross seated position.Now turn your body to face the hammock as you reach up with both hands grabbing the material closest to you. Give a tug as you lift and kick the standing leg off the ground, bringing it through the center of the hammock. Continue to rotate your body to a full 180 degrees. Make sure your spine lines up with the fabric behind you, and lean your head towards the right shoulder as you press the fabric away from the body with both hands.
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