How Aerial Yoga Helped My Depression
benefits of aerial yoga
Aerial yoga is a form of yoga that is done both on the mat and in -and -on a silk hammock. It's also known as anti-gravity yoga. It allows for deeper stretches, more intense core workouts, and easier inversions (upside-down positions). It also relieves pressure from joints because you are supported by the hammock fabric.
Every so often I get into a slump where my motivation, social life, and happiness suffers. I realize when this happens that I need to take action to snap myself out of it. This sometimes entails more activity, vitamins, medications, other holistic modalities or a combination of everything.
I have experienced anxiety and depression intermittently for several years. And even though I am a registered nurse I try to stay away from medications if possible (in some cases medication is required to balance out brain chemicals*).
To get my motivation back and try something new, I enrolled in an Aerial Yoga Teacher Training workshop and then continued taking classes. This workshop was more than I expected in many ways. The instructor was a real, energetic, fun, and of course uplifting (what I was needing). I met a group of like-minded women and developed relationships that helped me feel connected to other people.
I no longer felt alone and worthless. I felt empowered. I felt joy again. I felt like a playful child.
Learning the poses and doing core workouts were physically demanding. It was a new challenge that I needed. If you didn’t know already... exercise helps reduce depression. It helps to improve nerve cell connections in the hippocampus part of the brain which controls emotions and memory (https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/exercise-is-an-all-natural-treatment-to-fight-depression). It also causes the brain to release the feel-good hormones called endorphins.
I found an exercise I actually enjoyed.
It kept my mind off other worries. I was laughing again. It allowed me to be silly and carefree. I gave me a reason to get out of the house and socialize. It also helped with the symptoms of general joint and muscle pain that frequently accompanies my depression. Additionally, the inversion positions allow for spinal decompression to help with back pain. The environment was inviting, and I was pleasantly relaxed- even if I wasn’t the most flexible or most athletic (hey I am competitive person).
I felt like I was swinging again on a playground or hanging upside-down off monkey bars. It was nice to feel like a child at play and having fun. Time flies. Friendships are made.
You don’t have to be especially athletic to try aerial yoga. You can be a beginner. It does help to have even a little knowledge of yoga but it isn’t necessary. There are variations to aerial yoga like aerial silks and aerial hoops (lyra hoops). Aerial yoga varies from studio to studio.
If you feel interested in trying something new and fun to get you more motivated and out of the house check out aerial yoga! You can google aerial studios near you. If there aren’t any nearby there probably will be soon. This form of yoga seems to be on the rise right along with kitten or baby goat yoga!
Curious about the aerial yoga workshop I attended?
Curious about the local (Knoxville, TN) studio this blog discusses?
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