Have you ever wanted to fly? I remember dreaming of flying like a bird night after night as a kid. I remember thinking to myself that when I grew up, I wanted to fly. The closest I have come to fulfilling this childhood dream is AntiGravity Yoga…it gives you wings (and not the Red Bull kind).
Doesn’t sound familiar? If you just shook your head and thought “what is AntiGravity Yoga all about?” Then you can count yourself as being a part of the majority of people who have yet to experience AGY. It is an art form that is in its infancy. It is so new, in fact, that it doesn’t even have its own Wikipedia page yet (!) Not only is AGY a new art form, but its development has created a new genre of exercise, known as “suspension fitness” and involves the use of Hammocks which are securely suspended from the ceiling and function to allow people to hold challenging poses longer, build cardiovascular and muscular strength, and decompress the vertebrae of the spine without strain.
I am fortunate enough to intern at OMFactory, one of the very few yoga studios in NYC that offers AntiGravity classes. If you are lucky enough to take an AGY class there with AGY certified instructor, Josie Say, she will probably give you a brief history of the practice. Last Thursday, she informed our class that AGY was dreamed up only about 20 years ago by Christopher Harrison, the founder of AntiGravity, Inc, an acrobatic entertainment group based in New York City. She explained that AntiGravity Yoga is a hybrid practice combining traditional yoga poses with aerial arts, Pilates, and dance. I can attest that elements from all of these arts were a part of the 75 minute class.
The class moved at a steady pace, with enough time in each pose to really feel the muscles activating. If you are familiar with yoga, you will recognize that AGY classes move through the familiar poses, but the extra element of swinging in a hammock adds an entirely new dimension to the yoga practice. Everyone began in a seated position in which the soft silkiness of the AGY Hammock envelopes your body. This is called, “Womb” and is considered a levitating meditation or, in Sanskrit, Badda Konasana. That was followed up with a zero compression inversion. Josie very carefully guided us in and out through a series of simple progressions, while rhythmic music hummed softly in the background. My second favorite pose was “Monkey” (my first being the “Screaming Cannonball” … it’s nicer than it sounds). “Monkey” is one of the simpler inversions in which our legs carry the weight of our body as our bodies swing weightlessly upside down.
The remainder of the class was dedicated to hydrating joints through mobility exercises, elongating and strengthening the muscles, decompressing the spine and fine-tuning proprioceptors for better agility through swinging exercises. At times, people needed a little extra-boost of confidence to make it into a pose & Josie seemed to have a sixth sense at these times and was able to say exactly what we needed to hear to move us forward in our AGY journey. She and her assistant did a tremendous job of providing moral support to each of us, even giving hands on assistance when needed. Believe or not, everyone was successful every time. We finished with a “Floating Savasana” meditation where one seals in the positive effects of their practice.
Before I left the class, Josie and her assistant were nice enough to humor my questions about AGY and were even willing to help me into a few advanced poses. This is our version of “Double Lotus”.
You can see that I am enjoying my new relationship to gravity! I can’t wait to do it all again next week. As to whether or not you will take the leap and try AGY is totally up to you but I will leave you with a quote from AGY instructors to help you make up your mind: "The class emphasis is to have fun while learning new skills and experiencing a total body workout." -OMFactory