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When Upside Down is Right-Side Up

By Christopher Harrison, Founder of AntiGravity® and Visiting Master at AyurMa.

AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga and Visiting Master at AyurMa
Christopher Harrison, Founder of AntiGravity® and Father of Aerial Yoga

What is AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga?

Aerial Yoga is the evolution of yoga. Using a silky hammock suspended from two points in the ceiling, one can perform challenging asanas with overhead support. While some poses are done in levitation and let you feel the sensation of floating or flying, most poses use the AntiGravity hammock to help with balance and explore space in new positions, with feet or hands on the ground. The apparatus makes yoga more accessible for those who are physically challenged and can also add an additional layer of challenge for regular yogis while working through new planes of motion. In addition, AntiGravity training is a method for personal transformation in body, mind and spirit. Various dimensions of movement of the body and stillness in the mind are explored in conjunction with breath. Each class finishes with a levitating meditation in a cocoon that invokes a metamorphosis and can even forge an epiphany.

How does AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga work?

The AntiGravity hammock has a tension-tug factor that actively holds you in for flying poses and gives you support for ground-based poses. We have created a solid technique that provides step-by-step directions for using our trademarked apparatus, progressively leading in a flow to success. Although we have over 300 sequences in eight different programs, AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga is still the most popular and has even found a following in India.

Where did AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga originate?

My somatic background is competitive gymnastics, Broadway dance, Pilates therapy and yoga. As a Broadway aerial choreographer, I created the apparatus and movement vocabulary first for the sake of performance high in the air in 1999. When we discovered the healing benefits of inverting from the hips, I reconfigured the height and dimensions and remodelled the movement vocabulary to use both the ground and the air in a normal height room. As an aging acrobat, the apparatus gave me a miraculous healing. I spent years in development as therapy for myself and a team warm-up on my performance company before releasing it to the public in 2007. Miraculously, I never went back to my chiropractor again and our workers comp bills were cut in half. Realising the significance of my discovery, I shifted my focus from entertainment to wellness.

Is AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga proven safe?

Yes! The AntiGravity Hammock is rated for well over 1,000 pounds (about 450 kilograms); it can hold a baby elephant. Our techniques have been approved by governing bodies in exercise in multiple countries around the world. After 15 years and at the time of this writing, AntiGravity Fitness has an impeccable safety record. We have not heard of any major incidents and do not anticipate any. We have worked our techniques into a science and have a solid training academy for our instructors. For the record, the same is true for my aerial performance company for over 30 years.

AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga and Visiting Master at AyurMa

What are the benefits of AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga?

  • Zero-Compression Inversion: Inversions in AntiGravity Yoga are a disruptor to the world of yoga. They provide all the great benefits of inversion but are safer and more effective, providing traction relief for jammed joints.

  • Systems Refresh: Our circulatory system, endocrine system, digestive system, immune system and our organs get a reboot from the regimen.

  • Mind/Body Connect: As our world becomes more and more disconnected, we need ways to come back together, both to our own selves and to others. The sequencing and protocols in our class designs support this creative endeavour.

  • Open Space: Inverted traction and suspended mobility exercises hydrate the soft tissue of the body and allow for cramped regions to expand and breathe. Decompression is the enemy of depression. When we open up space in the body, we open up space in the mind. They are interconnected.

  • Neuroplasticity: The endocrine system releases a happy hormone cocktail when inverted. Neurotransmitters such as dopamine, endorphins, serotonin, and oxytocin are released into the bloodstream. Its a terrific bio hack for your brain.

  • Increased Intelligence: We have both an IQ (cognitive intelligence) and a KQ (kinesthetic intelligence). They are interrelated. When we develop coordination in the body by moving through space in new ways, we increase our KQ and become more intuitive healers for our bodies.

Is AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga for me?

How open is your mind to trying new things? Is your body closing down with the mind? Are you someone who says, why? or why not? Indeed, when was the last time you wholeheartedly tried something new physically, without letting the voices of doubt get in the way?

The AntiGravity methodology allows any able-bodied person who can follow basic directions to invert safely, but if one is highly prone to unfounded fears, this may not be for you. I can turn any BODY upside down, but not any MIND.

Here are the contra-indications/considerations that may require you to check with your doctor: If you have heart disease (high/low blood pressure), you may get dizzy more easily; the same is true for people with vertigo. If you have glaucoma, have had any recent surgeries or if you are pregnant, these are reasons to skip the inversions.

What is a typical class for AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga like?

Each class differs depending on the class design and program; however, most begin with a floating meditation in Womb pose. Next, we do a grounded sun salutation using the hammock to navigate front and back tension, mobilizing the back and hips to music. We then move slowly into a back inversion from the hips, where we reconnect with our breath. Typically, we stay there for three minutes, but one can come up earlier if need be. This is followed up with stretching and strengthening exercises using the AntiGravity hammock for leverage. We then go into another hip inversion, this one facing forward (flying downward dog), and then we swing! We finish in a levitating meditation called the cocoon and emerge with wings!

What can you expect after an AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga session?

My personal guarantee is that an AntiGravity class WILL make you happier, healthier and taller in just one session. Happier, because of the hormone release; healthier, because of the muscular conditioning and organ refresh; taller, because of the hydration of your soft tissue in your spine. I can also add smarter and kinder to that list. It will make you smarter because we add new synaptic connections and neural pathways to your brain. It will make you kinder because we kick in the parasympathetic nervous system and reconnect your body and mind. But dont take it from me; the proof is in the pudding. Wherever we go, in over 50 countries, communities emerge, and devotees find the practice to be renewing; over one million people of all ages, body types, and genders have experienced it so far.

How does AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga have a “greater purpose”?

If we are to heal our planet, we must start with humanity. If we are to heal humanity, we must fix our societies. To do that, we must start with ourselves, by reconnecting our body and mind and recalibrating our spirit. This is what we do every day at AntiGravity: defy graveness, invoke lightness, and become superheroes for humanity.

Keen to attempt AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga?

If you are curious, know that the universe is leading you here. Curiosity is the antidote to judgment and aside from your health is the single most important factor to leading a life of happiness. You were guided to be reading this and I promise, if you follow the proper steps on the path, you will not regret it. Just as there is so much more world to explore out there, it is also true inside of us. Open up, be free and discover AntiGravity!

Visiting Master Christopher Harrison will be in residence at AyurMa at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru from 1 to 14 June, 2023. To view his bio or explore his Private and Group Classes offered at AyurMa, click here.


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