What is restorative aerial yoga?

07 Jul 2016



GUEST POST: Niki Isaacson

Restorative aerial yoga makes you feel good, but what is it? Aerial yoga encourages traction and decompression of the spine by various inversion and suspension poses through a holistic traditional yoga framework. Restorative yoga aims to achieve physical, mental and emotional relaxation through the aid of props. Restorative aerial yoga utilises the aerial yoga hammock as a prop to assist the body in attaining postures that it ordinarily finds difficult. These hammocks are suspended 20cm off the ground and are used to encourage full range of lumbar spine movement through a variety of yoga poses and sequences.


Restorative aerial yoga is beneficial for all students of yoga ranging from the inexperienced through to the experienced. I have been practicing yoga for the past decade and was introduced to aerial yoga last year, when I started teaching yoga within a physiotherapy clinic. It was at this time, I realised the potential benefits of combining my knowledge of the principles of yoga, with the physiotherapists’ knowledge of the spine, together with the use of aerial yoga hammocks as a tool to treat back pain.


Aerial yoga hammocks are a great tool within restorative classes, as they can be used in many different ways. Just like blocks and straps within a traditional class, they can be used to make poses easier, deeper and stronger.


Sciatica and lower back pain relief

The biggest benefit I have seen within my teaching of restorative aerial yoga classes, is the reduction in symptoms of sciatica and lower back pain. I commonly get asked by my students why they feel better following my class. One of the reasons, is the traction and decompression the aerial yoga hammock provides for the spine. By providing back extension poses, pressure is reduced from the discs within the lumbar spine, increasing the joint space and allowing rehydration of these discs. With this increased joint space and hydration of the discs, my students are able to gain deeper back bends, flexibility, and importantly, pain relief.


Open your hip flexors!

A lesson I have learnt from the physio’s I work with, is that back pain does not always arise from the discs and spine, but can originate from something as simple as poor posture and prolonged sitting throughout the day. A consequence of these prolonged postures are tight hip flexors, which increase the anterior pelvic tilt and reduce the ability to perform a pain-free backbend. There are a series of hip flexor opening poses that I encourage throughout my restorative aerial yoga class which really help stretch out the hip flexors and in turn allow you to move more freely and be more upright.


Stretch out

A restorative aerial yoga class is not just for those students who have back pain or tight hip flexors, it is for everyone! Just like using props within a traditional restorative class, the use of the aerial yoga hammock as a prop can provide the students with deeper stretches, twists and openings, whilst providing a gentle inversion. Classes focus on breath awareness, pranayama and mindfulness, as well as full relaxation and restoration of mind and body. Finish with a beautiful savasana practice inside the hammock where you can melt into the fabric and bliss out in your own little cocoon.


Restorative aerial yoga makes you feel good. After expanding your thoracic and opening your heart, extending through the lumbar spine, stretching through the hips and the rest of the body you will leave class feeling relaxed and refreshed, and your back will feel great. I dare you to give it a go!


About Nikki:

Niki Isaacson is an Aerial Yoga teacher at UprightCare in Bondi Junction, Sydney

Sign up for Our Newsletter