Aerial yoga is the latest yoga fad to hit Shanghai, ideal for the health-conscious looking to elevate their fitness routines to a higher plane of actuality.
Okay, no more puns -- getting them out of the way in the first sentence…
What is it:
Aerial yoga is basically this: It's a combination of yoga and fitness using a gigantic nylon hammock attached to the ceiling. Practitioners complete aerial maneuvers designed to enhance, stretch, and work on muscles that are often neglected in traditional yoga, as well as approach from a different perspective the end goal of all yoga -- strengthening your core. In Shanghai, you can do this at Om Factory, a newly opened studio in Shanghai that follows on their 4 locations in NYC and Seoul.
What you need:
Exercise clothes that you can hang upside down in. A Spiderman outfit, a bat-suit -- whatever you feel comfortable in.
You choose your hammock and an assistant brings a ladder over to your mat to adjust its height accordingly. He's on standby throughout the class to ensure the safety of the students. All equipment has been imported from the United States and each hammock can hold 2000 pounds. As long as you weigh under 2000 pounds, you should be alright.
The class involves basic yoga poses and core work using the hammock as a tool. You begin by bending into downward dog with the hammock supporting you under your hips, letting go of the mat and “floating” backwards -- your first acrobatic maneuver. You’ll try the splits with your front foot supported by the hammock, allowing you to open wider with less effort.
Yes, you get to hang upside down. It’s only scary for a second. One of my favorites was butterfly pose with your body fully engulfed in the hammock, encouraging a moment of solitude which you can use for meditation, making funny faces, or having a private sob. The class ends with corpse pose four feet off the ground, cocoon style.
What happens next:
You will probably be giddy from the whole anti-gravity thing and want to stay after class to talk to your teacher, try that hanging upside down pose again, and take upside down selfies. Your arms might be a little sore the next day from all those full-body planks and pull-ups.
Who goes in for this:
Adrenaline junkies. Circus acrobats. People who wish they could fly. Yogis wanting to try something new and different, as well as people who have never set foot in a yoga studio before. The class I took was all Chinese women except one foreign guy wearing a wolf t-shirt. That's pretty much the spectrum of all human existence right there.
How much of your life will this take up:
60-75 minutes, as often as you like. Be sure to book in advance, especially for Mondays when the studio offers a 100rmb drop-in deal to heal those “Monday Blues.”
How much does this cost:
150-175rmb regular per class drop-in fee depending on the length of the class.
8,800rmb for a 1-year unlimited membership. The studio is currently running an opening deal on workshops - 200rmb for all workshops.
It’s fun and it makes you feel powerful. I’m going back to hang upside down and for that timeless, spaceless, floating cocoon experience. According to Om Factory teachers, aerial yoga is a good way for anyone to experience inversions (upside down poses), especially people with injuries. Inversions help elongate the spine, relax your neck and shoulders, improve your posture, and fight gravity.
No one looks good upside down. Not you, not the girl in her strappy Lululemon bra. Use the mirrored wall as an opportunity to accept your plump anti-gravity cheeks.
As a new student, some poses can be slightly painful when the hammock digs into your hips or feet. The studio offers blankets for any newbies who need extra padding.
You can find Om Factory’s schedule and contact information here. Address and details on SmartShanghai here.