The ancient practice of yoga is flexible enough (bad pun, I know) to mix with almost any other form of exercise or prop. The folks over at Crunch have been dreaming up trend-setting classes for years now, and their latest yoga hybrid is AntiGravity Yoga "Wings." The class blends traditional yoga poses with circus arts to create 60 minutes of good fun in the form of strength and flexibility training. You often forget you're exercising, but your muscles will remind you the next day. The class is centered around a soft fabric hammock, which supports you in basic yoga poses but also allows you to swing.
The hour-long class starts with simple motions not only to warm up your body, but also to give yourself a chance to warm up to the idea of working with a piece of fabric hanging from the ceiling. As you stretch, move, and explore the hammock, it is essential to keep tension in the prop at all times. You push into the hammock to gain more control over its swinging nature. There is no way to get through this class, from the light aerobic dance moves in the beginning of class to the supported yoga poses, without using your deep abs. So your belly gets worked with zero sit-ups. The class combines elements of challenge, like swinging in a superman position with the hammock on your pelvis, and relaxation, found in many of the supported stretches. The class ends using the hammock to create many inversions, which feel divine for the spine. I especially like how the traditional closing pose of a yoga class, savasana, has been replaced with "cocoon," which involves completely wrapping yourself in the hammock and gently swaying in the breeze.
The class also really works your arms. Pushing down into the fabric of the hammock targets the lats and triceps. At the moment, these classes are taught exclusively at Crunch gyms, but I predict that more classes mixing yoga with different circus-like elements will be popping up all over.
If you live in the SF Bay Area, you should take advantage of the free 45-minute workshop being offered at Crunch 1000 Van Ness on Saturday, Nov. 22. The three workshops run from 1:15-4:15 p.m. and are open to the public. Arrive early; space is limited and is first come, first served. I suggest you wear tight-fitting clothes and leave your jewelry at home.
Check out the moves below to see how versatile the hammocks are.