Christina Ieronymidou of @FitnessMagpie took on new class Invert Yourself which is playtime for adults! This class is designed purely on inversions within our aerial hammocks by working on upper body and core strength. So, what are you waiting for? It's time to monkey around and hang upside down.
I’m just going to tell you my conclusions from the outset: this class was SO. MUCH. FUN!
You may have heard of aerial yoga, a new-ish trend that is making its way into the yoga mainstream since 2015. This is a type of practice that is done using a swing, or hammock, made of circus silks (the same material used in aerial contortion acts). In aerial yoga, the poses are performed while suspended from the hammock, allowing you to use gravity rather than push against it. This means that you can perform inversions without putting any pressure on your neck or spine. Invert Yourself is all about the aerial hammocks and building upper body and core strength to work towards inversions.
The class was expertly led by instructor Nik (pictured below), who is trained in circus arts and has a background in dance. We started off by getting comfortable sat in the hammock, like you would in a swing. It’s quite a strange feeling and a little painful to begin with, but you soon get used to it after some activation exercises. Then the fun began: we started swinging. Small swings at first, but gradually getting bigger and bigger as we moved our bodies from seated to a hollow bow shape to create momentum.
Do you remember the elation of being on a swing as a child, going as fast as you can, as high as you can, with the air rushing past your ears? I was instantly transported back and the memory of that feeling suddenly became crystal clear. I may even have let out an audible giggle!
As we were swinging, I could feel my abs getting a bit of a workout already and even more so when Nik asked us to hold the bow shape while swinging. Slowly, we brought the swings to a stop and we did it all again, but this time with the hammock on the front of our waist, so we were flying Superman style (though holding on with both hands!).
Nik then directed us into lying down in the hammocks so we were fully enclosed. This was quite an interesting place to be, enveloped by the silks and suspended from the ceiling… But I didn’t have much time to dwell on it, as Nik had us doing ab exercises in our little cocoons! I can’t even begin to describe the feeling of doing bicycle crunches or hip raises in mid-air. It’s definitely a novel experience!
Flipping over onto our stomachs, we then began a rather odd, but mesmerising, swing from side to side, by swinging our arms and twisting our bodies. I imagine we looked quite bizarre, a bit like giant writhing caterpillars, but it felt pretty awesome and our obliques got some serious work done on a whole new plane.
Abs well and truly blasted, we moved on to our first inversions. This involved a small leap of faith, as I flipped in my hammock and hung upside down. The hammock hugs you around the hips, like a skirt, and as you allow your upper body to drop into gravity, you begin to feel your spine decompressing. I’m pretty sure I left this class an inch or two taller!
The next part of the class was stretching, but stretching as you’ve never stretched before. Using the hammock to suspend one leg at a time, I think I got the best hip flexor stretch ever! Then a bit more core work with one legged swings, followed by a twist in the silks to wrap your leg and give it what I can only describe as a boa-constrictor-massage.
Nik introduced the final part of the class by telling us that this is when many of his students have that “you want me to do what now?!” moment, but that we should simply trust him and give it a go. I’m glad I did, because I pleasantly surprised myself! With arms securely wrapped with the silks, I lifted my legs up and pressed my body into an inverted hang. It was a massive core workout to keep my body in a straight line, never mind to then split my legs and bend sideways. But I did it! And it felt amazing!
We wrapped up the class with some more swinging, just for fun. On that high, I reluctantly bid farewell to Nik and the silks… Until the next time, when I hope to achieve another “what now?” move!
More about Invert Yourself right here.