The hammock felt like a cozy cocoon around my body as I swayed gently, legs dangling, eyes closed. This was my first time trying Christopher Harrison's AntiGravity Yoga -- a yoga practice utilizing a specialized hammock to perform poses and hang upside down in every variation imaginable -- and the class at New York City's Holding Space started simply enough. Our instructor, master trainer Shelly Bomb, started the evening with breathing exercises while supported by the hammock and some basic moves, like leaning back into the hammock and raising our feet off the ground.
Gradually we moved into some more challenging poses (and of course what I was here for) -- getting upside down! I wrapped my legs around the silk and felt surprisingly safe and secure.
And now we were going to do what? Oh yes, flip backward. I trusted Shelly, who teaches AntiGravity Yoga all across the world. What I didn’t trust was my klutzy, accident-prone, spacial-awarness-challenged body. (My nickname at Prevention is "prat falls," which I earned one day when I stood up from a chair, tripped over my own shoe, and fell into my boss’s file cabinet. True story.)
I looked around the studio to see, one by one, my classmates slowly rotating their legs toward the back ceiling and landing -- sometimes gracefully, sometimes hesitantly, but always securely on the floor.
"Trust yourself,” Shelly told us. “You can do it." I took a deep breath, tightened my body, and slowly folded my legs toward the earth. My abs controlled the initial movement, and the position of the hammock, as Shelly promised, supported my body throughout the rotation. I did it!
The class was harder than I expected. You really have to use your entire body to control the poses, since the hammock swings freely. The hammock also allows you to move into poses that allow for a deeper stretch, and in certain poses actually massages your muscles as your body hangs from it. I was so stretched out afterward that I felt a full inch taller.
So, what does AntiGravity Yoga look like? Check out the video below to see the Prevention staff and a few AntiGravity devotees (the graceful ones in the video) give it a shot.