I have always wanted to experience it and it somehow always evaded me. At last, this past month I experienced “Anti-Gravity” yoga. It has been something I had planned on doing for quite some time. I was even signed-up for a class at Crunch NYC on 38th street but something got in the way…work, life, God, family, hurricanes, holidays… Who knows! It never happened. But finally this past month I gave it a go at Raffa Yoga Studio in Cranston, RI.
HOW WAS IT? What’s not to love. IT’S SUPER FUN! It is an opportunity to feel like you are part of Cirque du Soleil and HANG FROM A HAMMOCK, FLOAT UPSIDE DOWN AND SWAY ACROSS THE ROOM! The class was accessible to many fitness levels. It was an all-levels class. So, after my first couple of visits, I recruited a friend who has been having chronic back and hip pain. She was a little nervous at first but in the end, she really enjoyed it.
During the 75-minute class, we did various deep stretches and inversion. The abdominal exercises were intense and fun…and somewhat reminiscent of barre abdominals, TRX and/or pilates. The stretching was very cool and the “Houdini” pressure from the hammock was a whole new way to pressurize the soft tissue.
For me the biggest draw is the whimsy. What is whimsy? It is that wonderful mix of playful energy and laughter. When do we do anything whimsical and playful? As adults, we get caught-up in our “to do’s” and we forget how to have fun in a child-like manner. Take in nature, enjoy a swing outside… we usually need to have a goal at the end of our actions. We forget how to play and enjoy life. This is the best part for me. When we swayed from side-to-side cocooned in the hammock, I felt like a dolphin! Hanging upside-down with my legs twisted in the hammock, felt glorious.
Does it have health benefits? Hell YES! The benefits of inverting your body alone are many. It also included all the benefits from Yoga stretching, strengthening and meditative benefits. How about increasing your Telomeres for one. What are Telomeres? If you are not so familiar with Telomeres, they are the DNA at the end of our chromosomes. So imagine our chromosomes are like genetic shoelaces and the telomeres are the tips of shoelaces or aglets, as Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Blackburn describes them. Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn and Dr. Elissa Epel have written several books regarding you Telomeres including The Telomere Effect available at AMAZON.
As we age the telomeres break-down and potentially expose the chromosome to degradation. In a study published in The Lancet Oncology, lead author Dean Ornish, MD, UCSF clinical professor of medicine, and founder and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute explains “Our genes, and our telomeres, are not necessarily our fate.” “…often people think ‘Oh, I have bad genes, there’s nothing I can do about it,’” Ornish said. “But these findings indicate that telomeres may lengthen to the degree that people change how they live. Research indicates that longer telomeres are associated with fewer illnesses and longer life.”
So, we can change our gene expression? We can determine our fate? This falls in line with science behind Epigenetics. Moreover, intuitively we know that having fun and moving our bodies is good for us. Cultivating this sense of whimsy in our life, keeps us youthful. Now what you think of as whimsy may be different from another person entirely. Therefore you would need to experience anti-gravity yoga for yourself. There are many yoga studios and gyms that have classes. You can also purchase your own hammock. In that case, I highly recommend getting instruction and training first. But my personal suggestion is to find a class and give it a go!
Below are my top 10 benefits of anti-gravity yoga:
When you reverse the blood flow in the body, it improves circulation.
It is a wonderful way to cleanse the lymphatic system and therefore increase your immunity.
It moves more blood to the brain so it is energizing.
It improves balance.
It builds confidence.
It creates core strength!
It increase flexibility and body control.
It increases relaxation which encourages healthy mind and body. The cocooning savasana is pretty blissful.
It potentially lengthens your telomeres and all the benefits associated with this.
It is fun and increases your “whimsy.”
I have been teaching and practicing yoga for decades and I love when I find a new avenue to evolve my practice. It is important to explore new ways of living if we want to evolve as human and spiritual beings. Dr. Joe Dispenza elaborates on this in his book Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself available on Amazon.
Essentially, if we expect any form of change in our lives, we should invite in change. Swinging upside twisted in a hammock is a nice option.
There are more ways than one to change your perspective.