Last December, I had the chance to check out one of the latest yoga and fitness routines, AntiGravity Yoga. As I wrote after I tried it, it was love at first flight Not only was it such a fun and liberating experience, it was quite a workout as well! It may not look like it, but it does work your core a whole lot. More than that, you really feel it as you go through the poses.
What is AntiGravity Yoga, or AGY, to begin with? Well, think yoga, but not on a mat, rather on a silk hammock suspended three feet from the ground.
AGY is one of the rising fitness routines around the world and is soon to be launched in the Philippines by Beyond Yoga. It is the brainchild of Broadway choreographer and world-class gymnast, Christopher Harrison. It puts together the elements of traditional yoga poses, gymnastics, dance and aerial arts into one exciting and enjoyable routine. As Anna Carbonell, Beyond Yoga’s co-founder and certified AGY teacher puts it, “AGY brings the magic and fun to yoga”. I must say, being on that hammock really was so much fun and magical, indeed!
Other than being an enjoyable practice, what makes AGY a great addition to one’s routine is that it can help supplement one’s mat or asana practice. During the bloggers’ meet up with Christopher, he pointed out that AGY should not necessarily take the place of a regular practice, rather it is an adjunct to it. Because you are suspended in the air, AGY allows gravity to help decompress the spine and realign the body. Further, one is able to reap the benefits of a yoga practice without the impact or strain that often can occur during a regular mat practice, particularly because the hammock guides you into proper alignment. For example, a regular down dog on the mat can cause strain on the wrists, but on the hammock, you gain the support of the fabric. Similarly, balance poses such as the half moon two can be more accessible as again, there is the support from the fabric that can provide you a sense of stability while standing on one leg. While headstands and other inversions can be done on the mat, it may not be accessible for everybody (me included! I’ve been practicing for a year now and it was only this week that I finally made it into a headstand). With AGY, everybody comes out successful with their inversions, even on the first class.
I had the pleasure of taking classes with Anna and within the first five minutes of our first class, she got me hanging upside down!
Being on the hammock isn’t just all fun and games, although it does feel like that! As I said, it is quite a workout. One of the core workouts I can remember doing was the skier pose (or was it mule???) wherein our fists were wrapped around the hammock while we stood on the ground leaning slightly back and pulling ourselves up by engaging our core. Even getting in and out of the inversions takes a lot of core work, as one doesn’t just “fall” into the pose.
I particularly enjoyed doing the bow pose in the hammock (I forget what it’s called, hehe). I liked it because unlike the traditional bow where your pelvis (and tummy in my case!) is pressed to the ground. Doing it this way allowed me to access a deeper backbend without my breath getting caught because I was feeling “squeezed”. Also, when in the hammock, my knees don’t splay out too much, which often is what happens when I’m on the mat.
Though the fabric may seem intimidating for some, especially since one may wonder if it is sturdy enough to hold so much weight, it is especially designed for the practice and is guaranteed to be safe for such poses and activities. As Christopher emphasized during the briefing, these are especially patented and undergo strict quality control in order to ensure safety for all practitioners. Further, licensing of the franchise is not just handed out to anybody. Christopher talked about how he carefully selected the Beyond Yoga team to be the exclusive franchiser of the brand in the Philippines. Further, he personally came over late last year to train the AGY teachers.
Can anyone try AGY? Yes! When I went to the class last December, there was a young girl, probably about 10 or so, and a 71-year old woman with me in class! Although a background on yoga does help a lot, it is not a requirement to be able to try it out. As with any fitness routine, there are some contraindications, such as pregnancy, high blood pressure, and recent surgeries. It does help to check with your physician if you have any health conditions or concerns, and as always, it is important to inform your teachers if there is anything that they should watch out for, such as recent injuries and physical limitations.
Beyond Yoga’s AntiGravity Yoga studio is set to open this February. At present, their yoga and dance studio is open for classes and is located at the 3rd Floor, Il Terrazzo, Tomas Morato corner Scout Madrinian Street, Quezon City. Learn more about Beyond Yoga and AntiGravity Yoga by visiting www.igobeyondyoga.com or call (+63917) 5BEYOND (5239663), or through their Facebook page.