Aerial yoga is not only good for you, it is great for you! Improving your health and fitness doesn’t require you remain on the ground. If you want to improve your overall well-being – and enjoy better sleep, increased strength, enhanced cognition – look no further than the practice of aerial yoga.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient practice, few things have stood the test of time like yoga. For thousands of years this meditative movement has taught practitioners to be mindful while building muscles and keeping joints healthy. Yoga began as a spiritual practice that has evolved into a popular way of promoting physical fitness. Yoga is good for you, not only because it helps release stress, but because it gives practitioners, of all ages, a chance to unplug and unwind in today’s fast paced world.
Styles of Yoga
There are various yoga styles, ranging from gentle practices to more physically demanding ones. All the many types and schools of yoga include the practices of Hatha yoga, but the difference is in the style and approach. Some forms focus on movement and flow, while others use props and hold static poses. When looking for a yoga class, try out of few of the styles to see, which one resonates with you.
If you are a yogi who’s wanting to get more from their yoga practice, aerial yoga can take your yoga practice to new heights. Aerial yoga is a modern spin on traditional hatha yoga. It integrates traditional yoga philosophies and yoga poses with the fun physical conditioning of the aerial hammock. At Mindful Child, we incorporate sensory, social emotional learning, mindfulness, and guided meditation to make our style of aerial yoga therapeutic. The aerial hammock is used a playful yoga prop, which enhances the therapeutic and play elements of our classes.
These different styles of practicing yoga have made it difficult to effectively research it. However, there are elements that are consistent across research studies, which have shown advantageous health effects of yoga. To reap the benefits of aerial yoga, you need to have a consistent practice. Research shows the more you practice the better it is for your brain and body. Additionally, for benefits to occur the class needs to include four essential elements: meditation, mindfulness, breath work, and movement.
What is Aerial Yoga?
Aerial yoga is a newer style of yoga that began as circus performers began tying aerial silks at the base and making a sling that could be used for stretching. Some of the poses stem from circus performers using the aerial hammock for tricks and flips, but most are based on yoga poses.
The type of aerial yoga practiced at Mindful Child utilizes an aerial yoga hammock that is secured to the ceiling with two attachment points. The two attachment points limit the direction the hammock can swing in. Our style of aerial yoga is mindfulness-based, but does contain flips, tricks, and traditional yoga poses.
What does Science Say about Aerial Yoga?
Studies demonstrate when behaviors or actions, such as practicing aerial yoga, are consistent over time, they become part of the brain’s neurological wiring. Each time your child performs a new pose or action, the neurons in his brain form new connections to help him learn. With practice, these actions become thought patterns, which become habits. Neuroplasticity, is the ability of the brain to change it’s form and function. Your brain is a direct reflection of what you practice and do in life, “you are what you do” so the more your child practices positive behaviors, therapeutic movements, and mindfulness you are rewiring your child’s brain. This helps your child de-stress and get health, resulting in healthy coping habits for life.
Let’s Dive Deeper. Here are some research studies on yoga:
Recent studies show yoga releases substances in the brain that act as strong antidepressants, suggesting it can help individuals enhance personal health and decrease depression. This is important as depression affects over one hundred million people and depression is starting to show up more in the pediatric population.
A review of studies found that certain areas of the brain are affected by the yoga-based practice of mindfulness. Key areas of the frontal cortex are strengthened, which helps you regulate emotions.
In 2018, brain scans showed that yoga poses and meditation both reduced amygdala volume linked to negative emotions. Additionally, Stanford researchers found that after 8-weeks of mindfulness meditation subjects fear response was reduced. When you are mindful you notice sensations and emotions instead of disassociating, which leads to improved self-awareness, a smaller amygdala and improved emotional regulation.
Research published inThe Frontier of Human Neuroscience reported learning and practicing movement that is choreographed is linked to enhanced cognitive function, attention span, problem-solving skills and memory.
The most impressive part of studies is the finding that yoga reliably changes structures in the brain, which in turn, reduce stress, anxiety, and emotional reactivity. It has also been shown that a consistent yoga practice systematically produces mindfulness. These changes lead to improved mood and well-being. So, yes, aerial yoga is good for you.
Is Aerial Yoga Good for Children?
Historically, pediatric treatment modalities for anxiety and depression involved talk therapy and medication; however, mind-body techniques such as aerial yoga are gaining popularity as a way to reduce stress. Yoga can be be considered a complementary therapy or alternative treatment method to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It has been shown to enhance well-being and create feelings of relaxation. Aerial yoga can be a powerful coping strategy for children. Aerial yoga helps promote a physiological state opposite to that of the flight-or-fight stress response. Learning ways to interrupt the stress response produces a sense of grounding and harmonious union between the mind and body.
A growing number of neurological studies show that when children learn yoga, they become more present, better able to manage big emotions, and more content and academically successful. When you and your child consistently practice yoga it builds physical and emotional strength.
Studies show that yoga can:
Calm and center the mind
Improve concentration and focus
Enhance emotional regulation
Positively influence neurotransmitters and brain plasticity
Things to Consider When Looking for an Instructor
When looking for an aerial class for you or your child, review the training and experience of the instructor. How many years have they been teaching aerial yoga? Where did they train? Something else to consider when working with children is the teacher’s educational background. Does she have a degree related to child development? Is she a registered children’s yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance?
At Mindful Child, we are a registered yoga school with Yoga Alliance, the governing body of yoga schools and trainings. Additionally, I have 25-years of experience working with children as a psychologist. I have extensive training from reputable yoga schools including, AntiGravity, Radiant Child Yoga, Yoga Fit, and Yogapeutics to name a few.
Want to Learn More about how Aerial Yoga is Good for your child?
Aerial yoga can enhance flexibility, build strength, reduce stress and much more. Yoga is about slowing down, using the breath, and letting go of stress. Aerial yoga builds on benefits of traditional yoga and breathing exercises. Aerial yoga offers your child a way to better health and well-being and the best part is, it is fun.
Want to learn more of the science of yoga? Join us for our Mindful Child Teacher Training. Our FUN brain-based approach, will teach you the ways kid’s aerial yoga is beneficial to the brain and body. Join us for a teacher training live or online. Or read my book, Mindfulness for Children, it if full of mindfulness and yoga activities for families.
Mindful Child Hammock
Want your own hammock? Visit our Mindful Child aerial hammock store for details on buying a Mindful Child
hammock. Mindful Child brand hammocks are wrapped (no knots to learn to tie) with safety-rated slings. Our Mindful Child hammocks are specially designed to move easily from a single point to a double point. They are easy to wash and come with safety-rated steel carabiners. It is hand-made with love by our small business team and fully assembled and ready to hang. We recommend hiring a licensed contractor or engineer to hang your aerial hammock from the ceiling.
Mindful Child Classes & Camps
Come hang out with us! We have lots of kid’s camps and classes to choose from. Our regular class sessions are divided into seasonal themes: Spa in the fall, Mindful Eating in the winter, Mindful Art in the spring, and STEM activities in the summer. Our camps take place during winter breaks and during summer. Each camp has a different theme, but all them include aerial yoga and mindfulness.
Woodyard C. Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life. Int J Yoga. 2011 Jul;4(2):49-54. doi: 10.4103/0973-6131.85485. PMID: 22022122; PMCID: PMC3193654.
Basso Julia C., Satyal; Medha K., Rugh Rachel. Dance on the Brain: Enhancing Intra- and Inter-Brain Synchrony. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 14, 2021