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In anti-gravity yoga, practitioners hang from hammocks suspended from the ceiling and they use hammocks to stretch and swing. Including some of the poses of traditional yoga, it also incorporates elements of aerobics, Pilates and airborne acrobatics

Alternative Asanas Increasingly Popular

Yoga was once considered to be a spiritual disciplined realized through physical discipline. The yoga master demanded obedience inside the class and out, and participation in yoga was usually seen as a means of spiritual enlightenment. Nowadays yoga is increasingly seen as a way to improve health and have fun.

Q. Can I use Anti-Gravity Yoga to replace other exercises?

A. Yes. For example, you can do a "wash-board push up" with your arms pressing against the sling with your feet on the floor from a standing position. The "backward walking dog" allows people who do not have back injuries to do easy handstands with the help of the hammock—during their very first class.

Q. Is it true that some people grow taller as a result of Anti-Gravity Yoga?

A. Decompressing the spine sometimes makes people grow taller, as much as an inch and a half (38 mm), in one class. Christopher Harrison says that Anti-Gravity Yoga is a great way to ward off the shrinkage that sometimes occurs during aging, as early as the late 40's and early 50's.

Q. Is Anti-Gravity Yoga a spiritual discipline?

A. In the sense that it is uplifting, yes. Anti-Gravity Yoga classes are intended to leave everyone with a "can-do" spirit by the end of each session.

Q. Do I have to chant "ommmmmm" while I do Anti-Gravity Yoga?

A. No, but it helps free your mind of clutter so personal insights can emerge as you move your body in new but easy ways. Christopher Harrison has noted that Americans are more open to chanting than people in most other parts of the world.

Q. Will Anti-Gravity Yoga help me become more flexible?

A. Many people who are starting Anti-Gravity Yoga are overweight, stiff, and out of shape. Their bodies are accidents waiting to happen. Stiffness actually protects them from injury.

As they develop strength in muscles they have not used for years, it becomes safer and safer to be flexible. Flexibility naturally follows increased strength. The hammock makes it possible to develop more muscles for more flexibility from head to toe.

Q. Should I do Anti-Gravity Yoga every day?

A. No, especially at first. Your muscles need time to repair and rebuild themselves as they grow stronger through yoga training.

Q. What if I huff and puff and sweat profusely during my workout?

A. Then you are making that much more progress. You can only start where you are. Many participants in Anti-Gravity Yoga find it to be very strenuous at the beginning, when they are only attempting some of the exercises. The longer they stay at it, the more proficient they become.

Q. Some of the literature for Anti-Gravity Yoga refers to "hand standing grandmas." Really?

A. Yes. These were women who were about 65 years old when they came for their first class, doing a handstand from their hammocks in the first hour. Doing your first handstand at the age of 65 really helps build an "anti-gravity" kind of confidence in staying well while aging.

Q. Is it OK to take someone else's Anti-Gravity Yoga course?

A. It is best to stick with an instructor who has been trained and certified by Christopher Harrison's Anti-Gravity Aerial Yoga Fitness institute. The rigging of the hammock and the use of strong materials is essential to success.

  • Katie Orlinsky, "Alternative Asanas," New York Times Slide Show, accessed 3 September 2011.
  • Photo courtesy of