Sweet suspense

Sweet suspense

Hammocks aren't just for lazing around, as Joyee Chan finds out with fly yoga

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YP reporter Joyee Chan grows wings and learns to fly at Aerial Arts Academy in Causeway Bay.
YP reporter Joyee Chan grows wings and learns to fly at Aerial Arts Academy in Causeway Bay.
Photos: Paul Yeung/SCMP
Every time my yoga teacher asks the class to perform the shoulder stand or the forearm stand with split legs, I get butterflies in my stomach. There are two reasons for this. One: gravity always gets in my way - either my arms can't support my torso or my legs never stay straight up in the air without someone's help. Two: inversions are a risky business, and I don't want to strain my back or neck.

But there's no need to worry when you have the support of a hammock suspended from the ceiling. And that's what the new fitness trend, fly yoga, offers.

A crossover between traditional yoga and Cirque du Soleil-inspired acrobatics, fly yoga allows almost everyone to try the more difficult poses, such as inversions, with ease. It claims to work your muscles in unfamiliar ways so that they become more evenly toned, and alleviates backache (caused by too much slouching in front of the computer or TV).

Intrigued, I attended a class at Aerial Arts Academy - which introduced fly yoga to the city - right next to the Central Library in Causeway Bay. Here, four silk yoga hammocks, each strong enough to hold 450kg, dangled from the ceiling.

With one year of regular yoga experience, I found the warm-up exercises to be familiar. We performed the "warrior sequence" and "dancer's pose" - but with the arched leg resting in the hammock. Since I was on one leg, my core muscles had to work extra hard to keep my body balanced, and I often found my hips swaying from side to side.

But then the workout intensified. With a little help from our teacher (and a lot of faith in the silk hammock), I leaned back and let myself dangle upside down, first lifting my legs in a diamond shape and then opening into a spilt. Hoisting up my lower back like that wasn't as easy as it seems in circus shows! I had to tuck my stomach in and clench my buttocks to lift my lower body.

When everyone in the class was steady in the pose, our teacher encouraged us to free our hands from the tight grip on the silk and relax, with our palms facing upwards and our eyes closed. Instinctively, I used my hands to support my weight, but instead of protecting myself, I was told this would destabilise the posture. Hanging there, I could literally feel my spine lengthening between each vertebra, along with an intense rush of blood to the head.

We moved on to a pose with one leg wrapped around the hammock, the other leg bent at the knee, and arching our backs to catch our ankles with our hands - something like a half bridge pose.

After an hour, I was exhausted. I could feel some twinges in my stomach, but thankfully the backache that plagues me from a life hunched over a laptop had eased.

Special thanks to Aerial Arts Academy


See what else we're doing this summer

- Canoe polo
- Capoeira
- Golf
- Ice hockey
- Lacrosse
- Lawn bowls
- Pilates
- Wakesurfing

... and revisit last year's YP does the Olympic Games

- Archery
- BMX
- Boxing
- Equestrian
- Handball
- Rhythmic gymnastics
- Rowing
- Sailing
- Taekwondo
- Trampolining

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