Let’s Get Physical: Aerial Yoga

Jul 27, 2011

BOISE, ID – There are lots of fun ways to stay active during the hot summer months.  Last week, in our series Let’s Get Physical, we took you pole dancing.  Today we climb into a hammock to do yoga.

Katie Ponozzo stands on a ladder.  She hangs up a bright blue piece of silk from the ceiling of Ophidia studios in Garden City.

Katie Ponozzo: “So they’re a big piece of fabric that’s made into a loop and we’re able to do different types of yoga positions and lay in the fabric and it’s like a cocoon.”

Sometimes it’s called a hammock, but this isn’t the kind you hang on your front porch, explains Ponozzo.  She climbs into the hammock and begins stretching.

Katie Ponozzo: “Bend your knees and bring your knees together, awesome, so this is called baddha konasana, this is bound angle pose, this is how I like to start my classes, so we can take a moment to just center and connect with our breath.”

Ponozzo started teaching aerial yoga in May after she went to a class in New York.  Today, she and her student sit upright, several inches off the ground, surrounded by silk.

Katie Ponozzo: “And exhale, we’re gonna take our head toward our knee, so now were in ghana sirsasana head to knee pose, if you want something a little more intense…”

Aerial yoga counteracts gravity.  It relieves pressure on the spine.

Katie Ponozzo: “And a lot of stuff is a lot easier on your body, because you’re supported by the fabric and you don’t have the hard ground that you’re dealing with, so I have a lot of people who just feel more comfortable doing the stretches because you’re in the air.”

That’s true for Trisha Anderson.  This is her second aerial yoga class.  She says she’s not very flexible, and the hammock helps her out.

Trisha Anderson: “For me, doing regular yoga, my shoulders aren’t very strong so my arms would get really tired having to do a lot of the same things over and over again, and with this you don’t really have to do that, I mean it’s still a great workout, but it’s a lot of stretching which is good for me because I’m not very limber.”

Ponozzo says you can try almost any position in the hammock, including hanging upside down.  That’s good for the spine.  Ponozzo says it also gets blood to the brain, and flushes out the lymph system.

Katie Ponozzo: “And it’s just fun, it’s totally fun, it’s kind of like being a monkey, you get to flip in and out of the fabric and hang upside down, and spin, and I mean it’s just fun.”

It’s also relaxing.  People describe it as being enveloped in your own silk cloud.  Anderson says it’s different from working on the hard floor.

Trisha Anderson: “I don’t know, you kinda get a release because you just kinda get to let go and lay into the silk which is a really good feeling and you do feel really safe and just, almost like you’re being hugged by the silk which is a really good feeling.”

Anderson says she feels good enough to try something new.  It’s basically a back flip and a roll, to get out of the hammock and back on solid ground.  Ponozzo stands nearby.

Katie Ponozzo: “So you want to be just a little bit lower, about there, yup and I’ve got you right here, and you’re just gonna look for the floor, oh cake, you got it, that was awesome, good job, thank you.”

Trisha Anderson: “Oh it was fantastic, I swear I never feel more relaxed then when I’m laying in there, I about fell asleep today, I feel great, it was a good workout and I just feel so happy.”

Ponozzo gets that reaction a lot.  She says aerial yoga is about having fun and…getting fit.