In downtown San Diego, one yoga studio is discovering a few new faces in class. Between the hard-core yogis and the svelte-bodied mamas, the wearied frames of Marines, Navy Seals and firefighters are finding their ways to the mat – or at least through the doors of the studio.
The Yoga Factory’s Mel Campanero recently partnered with the Love A Hero Foundation to offer the unique restorative benefits of AntiGravity yoga to military and public service men and women who often suffer the setbacks of post-traumatic stress. We asked Mel to explain to us why this trending form of yoga is finding such ready participants in those looking for relief from PTSD.
The Chalkboard Mag: First of all, for those of us who are left puzzled and fascinated by the photo above , what is AntiGravity Yoga?
The Yoga Factory: AntiGravity yoga is a fitness fusion technique that incorporates yoga principles such as breathing, stretching and meditation with gymnastics and aerial arts. Muscles lengthen and tone while allowing the body to receive the benefits of zero-compression inversion. These kinds of inversions create space in between each vertebrae and releases stress and tension from the lower back.
TCM: Yoga itself is an ancient practice, but where did AntiGravity yoga get its start?
TYF: AntiGravity was created by world-renowned gymnast, yogi and former Broadway performer, Christopher Harrison. When Christopher’s performance company needed a solution for rehabbing performer’s bodies while traveling the world, Christopher came up with the Anti-Gravity hammock. The constant stress on joints and muscles was greatly alleviated by the AntiGravity hammock which provided a portable form of rehabilitation and relaxation. Since the discovery of its rehabilitation purposes, the AntiGravity concept has been customized for celebrity performances and shows like the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, but it is most often used by those looking for the deep levels of physical and emotional rest and recovery that AntiGravity can provide.
TCM: Your yoga studio is helping to connect those suffering from PTSD and other high stress conditions with the therapeutic benefits of AntiGravity yoga. Tell us why the hammock is so effective for this.
TYF: AntiGravity shares traditional yoga’s mind-body connection principles and is therefore an invaluable tool to aid in treatment of things like PTSD. Most AG classes begin in womb pose. The students begin class completely cocooned in their hammocks while participating in breathing and meditation exercises – simple, but very restorative! The suspended inversions involved in this type of yoga have many physical benefits for the nervous system – a system that, in folks with PTSD, is normally quite taxed. AntiGravity yoga can help to erase the physical effects that our service members’ jobs have on their bodies, truly offering a new type of “personal therapy,” as many of our clients like to call it. The practice of aerial yoga not only strengthens the body, but strengthens the mind, leaving one feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and balanced. Our clients leave class with an overall sense of calm well-being and often seek out additional classes and longer inversion times to help them battle the mental affects of jobs that continuously stress the body and mind.
TCM: For those of our readers who may not experience the stress levels of a Navy Seal per se, but struggle with everyday stresses of their own nonetheless, how can AntiGravity yoga help?
People love AntiGravity because it works for each and every body. Regardless of shape, size, age and fitness ability, AntiGravity shares its benefits with all. With personal resistance monitoring as one of the main principles, everyone walks away from class amazed by how the class seemed to be exactly what they needed: hard enough to be a constant challenge, but accessible enough that they were able to participate in the class 100%, regardless of personal fitness levels.
We love that yoga and other natural methods are gaining popularity as useful solutions for those recovering from stress and trauma. Do you have a personal recovery story? Do you have a studio, book or method in mind that you’d like to share with The Chalkboard? We want to hear from you!