“Do you guys teach aerial yoga?” It’s a question we often get from new Sky Candy students, so we wanted to take a moment to talk about the difference between our aerial hammock classes and aerial yoga. We discussed the different setups in a previous post, but to quickly review: in aerial hammock, the fabric is rigged from a single rescue-8 on a single point, while aerial yoga attaches the hammock to two separate rig points with some distance between them, giving students more room to stretch and extend.
Our Austin circus school approaches hammock the same way we teach any other apparatus. We start with basic vocabulary, helping students link beginner skills together into short sequences. As students advance, they learn more complicated skills and longer sequences. Those who are interested are encouraged to create and perform their own choreography. Aerial yoga, on the other hand, focuses on using the hammock to enhance the experience and benefits of a regular yoga class — opening up the body, quieting the mind, lengthening the muscles. Both will help students gain strength and flexibility, but the class experience will be very different. When teaching a new circus skill, the instructor will generally demonstrate the skill first, then lead students through it one or two at a time, which allows for individual feedback and hands-on spotting when needed. In aerial yoga, you’re more likely to see teacher and students move through a flow together, with the instructor relying mostly on verbal cues to help students transition from one static pose to the next. And while aerial yoga sequences are often graceful and fluid, they’re not typically designed to be performed for an audience. Those crazy rolls and drops are definitely circus, not yoga, skills!
A Matter of Mats
If you’ve seen video of an aerial yoga class, you might be concerned that students practice over regular yoga mats rather than the crash mats you’re used to seeing in our studio. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, because aerial yoga often focuses on standing poses where students keep one or both feet on the ground, having a stable surface to balance on is actually safer. Yoga students are also usually much closer to the ground and are performing fewer inversions and no dynamic movement.
As always, if you have concerns about a studio’s rigging or safety policies, we encourage you to talk to the instructor or studio manager. If they can’t answer your questions, keep searching for a studio where you feel safe. Beware of online retailers offering “complete aerial yoga setups” or similar packages to use at home. And remember that professional circus arts instruction is the only safe way to learn — trying to learn aerial skills from videos or on your own is not a good idea and could result in serious injury.
Because Sky Candy focuses on circus arts instruction, we don’t currently offer aerial yoga classes. But we’re a great place to learn aerial hammock! Our Austin circus school offers group classes and private instruction for students of all levels, from absolute beginners to aspiring professionals. Check our schedule for class times and registration. We hope to see you in the air soon!