Reversing Gravity Facilitates Yoga Moves
Jun 01, 2014 08:56PM
● By Linda Sechrist
Nearly 30 million TV fans and 800,000 YouTube viewers have seen pop music star Pink’s 2014 Grammy Awards performance of Glitter in the Air. Dressed in a glittering body stocking and high heels, and suspended from the ground by a silky white hammock, she enthralled the audience with not only her vocals, but also her Cirque de Soleil-type AntiGravity yoga performance. Christopher Harrison, a former aerial acrobat and gymnast who found that traditional yoga was too hard on his injured wrists, developed this latest trend, which incorporates weightless yoga poses that strengthen core muscles, stretch tight muscles and relieve pressure on the spine and aching joints.
In Naples, Emmy Bromley and Lindy Salvi, at the boutique fitness studio, Emilie Bromley LLC; Meredith Musick, LMT, a yoga teacher with a private studio in the Park Shore area; and Patricia Wilborn, owner of Gyrotonic of Naples LLC, agree that Pink gave a boost to AntiGravity yoga, which is growing in popularity not just because it feels good, but also because it’s fun and adds a touch of adventure to any fitness practice.
Bromley, who owns a licensed AntiGravity studio, Salvi and Wilborn personally trained with Harrison. Bromley and Salvi are certified level 2 AntiGravity instructors and Wilborn is level 1 certified. The three women are in agreement that aerial yoga is here to stay as a form of exercise and fitness training.
“The Harrison Hammock is a tool which allows individuals to do things that they may otherwise not be able to do. It offers support and the silk is very forgiving, which aids in monitoring one's own resistance. People of all ages can benefit from this practice,” says Salvi.
“If you can do three sit-ups, you can practice AntiGravity fitness," says Bromley, who has been AntiGravity certified since 2011. This form of yoga adds diversity to recharge any routine practice of asanas. It is also considered restorative yoga. “The result of experiencing yourself in postures—handstands, yoga inversions and backbends—you never thought possible, is increased confidence,” says Bromley. She notes that restorative yoga is now an aspect of AntiGravity yoga.
Wilborn, who began training with Harrison a year ago, introduces her Pilates, Gyrotonics and yoga students to AntiGravity yoga even if it isn’t a class they signed up for. “Every student who is apprehensive or not initially interested is not only amazed that they can suspend themselves, but also that the decompression of their spine relieves the pressure on joints and alleviates chronic back pain. This is because it aligns the spine,” says Wilborn, a former gymnast, who is excited that she can once again do a complete flip in her hammock. “It feels good to do now what I did 20 years ago. Actually, AntiGravity yoga is a great anti-aging tool,” she says.
Musick and her yoga students have been benefiting from reversing gravity since 1999. While she previously used other systems, today she works with the Great Yoga Wall, which uses a system of ropes, pulleys and a comfortable sling. “It reverses gravity on all the body’s organs and systems. While inversion does increase my flexibility, I also benefit from weightlessness in other postures, such as a backbend that I do. With my feet firmly planted on the ground and my hips and pelvis completely supported, I don’t need to work hard to get into or out of postures.”
For even the strongest student, the Great Yoga Wall provides great support. “It relieves the weight on the shoulders so they can rotate properly in postures such as downward dog,” explains Musick, who was a horseback rider for many years. “If I had the Great Yoga Wall then, I could have avoided compression from riding dressage. It’s amazing how our body benefits when we take the weight off the spine. Yogis have understood the benefits of reversing gravity for centuries. It’s why they have been doing head and shoulder stands. They were probably amazed if they caught Pink’s glitzy performance, which was beautiful,” says Musick.
Patricia Wilborn, 3415 Radio Rd., Ste. 104, Naples, 239-290-7499.