You may have noticed that in most Aerial Yoga classes, much of the sequencing and many of the shapes that are explored feel familiar to what you may have practiced in a traditional mat-based yoga practice. That's because Aerial Yoga, in it's simplest form, is a mat-based yoga practice using the aerial hammock as a prop.
While it's not required to have a mat-based yoga practice to begin an aerial yoga practice it's essential not to forget the value of a solid mat-based yoga practice. In fact, many students do get started with aerial yoga and end up exploring a mat-based practice as a result. While aerial yoga offers an enchanting experience of defying gravity and exploring new dimensions, grounding yourself on the mat brings a unique set of benefits. At Elevate we believe in the harmonious integration of both practices. Here we will delve into why incorporating mat-based yoga can beautifully complement your aerial yoga journey.
Cultivating a Strong Foundation
Aerial yoga entices us with its thrilling and gravity-defying movements, but maintaining a strong foundation is crucial. Mat-based yoga provides the opportunity to refine alignment, build stability, and develop a deeper understanding of fundamental shapes. By nurturing a solid foundation through a mat practice, you'll enhance your body awareness, balance, and overall strength, making your aerial practice more controlled and precise.
Enhancing Flexibility and Range of Motion
Aerial yoga encourages dynamic movements and lengthening of the body, but it's equally important to maintain flexibility, mobility and increase range of motion. Mat-based yoga offers various static and flowing sequences that gently stretch and open the body, releasing tension and improving overall flexibility. Integrating mat practice alongside aerial yoga helps prevent muscular imbalances, reduces the risk of injury, and allows you to explore even more with your shapes while suspended in the air.
Focusing on Breath and Mindfulness
Aerial yoga often captivates us with its aerial arts elements, but it's crucial to find stillness and focus within the practice. Mat-based yoga provides an opportunity to anchor your attention to the breath, cultivating mindfulness and a deeper connection with your body. The steady rhythm of your breath on the mat can enhance your ability to remain present and fully engaged during your aerial yoga practice, fostering a sense of tranquility and inner harmony.
Creating Space for Self-Exploration
While aerial yoga ignites a sense of adventure, mat-based yoga invites introspection and self-exploration. The mat becomes a sanctuary for personal reflection, enabling you to dive deeper into your practice, explore subtle sensations, and develop a heightened mind-body connection. By dedicating time to mat-based yoga, you nurture self-discovery, allowing your aerial practice to become an extension of your authentic self-expression.
Adapting to Individual Needs
Every individual has unique strengths, limitations, and preferences. Mat-based yoga offers an inclusive space to modify poses, adjust intensity, and cater to your individual needs. By incorporating mat practice alongside your aerial yoga sessions, you can tailor your practice to suit your body's requirements, ensuring a well-rounded and customized experience that promotes long-term well-being.
Testimony from a Student turned Teacher
For those of you that don’t know Paige, might be surprised to hear about her journey. Today she has such a strong connection with her mat-based practice it's hard to believe she once didn't. Paige's first experience with any type of yoga was when a friend drug her to Elevate back in the day to try aerial yoga (she agreed because her back was killing her).
"I was hooked immediately. I loved it! I was having so much fun. I never saw myself as a “yogi “ because I didn’t feel like I looked like one. In my time at Elevate I realized that I had a yoga body too… but still didn’t believe I could be a “mat yogi.”
Fast forward to Paige's journey in becoming a teacher where she completed her 200-hr Yoga Teacher Training and Aerial Yoga Teacher Training programs. "I STILL refused to teach mat or take a mat class. In fact, I would beg Brandi and Amber to not make me teach mat. Eventually, my practice and my classes seemed to be in a rut. So I took a small step and did mat-based yoga private sessions with Charley at Elevate (my safe space) and I saw a change in my practice. My balance, strength, mobility all shifted. My aerial and mat practice fused together and both practices grew so fast and continue to grow." Paige's mat practice proved to be a vital role in her stability, mobility and strength in the hammock.
"And to think, I let fear of what others would think of me keep me from this beautiful practice. How lucky am I to have a space, at Elevate, to let me challenge my fears while being so supported and loved."
At Elevate, we encourage our students to embrace the balance between the exhilarating heights of aerial yoga and the grounding stability of mat-based practice. By integrating both disciplines, you embark on a transformative journey that nurtures strength, flexibility, mindfulness, and self-discovery. Whether you find yourself suspended in the air or rooted on the mat, the dynamic interplay between the two practices enhances your overall yoga experience, empowering you to soar higher and deeper within yourself.