Check out aerial silk yoga

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By: Raul J. Rodriguez MD, DABPN, DABAM Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers
How to have fun hanging yourself: Ok, that statement could be taken the wrong way if you have never heard of aerial silk yoga. Aerial silks refers to a new type of yoga that is practiced with the assistance of a silk swing as a tool to help students achieve the traditional Yoga positions. Much of this exciting practice involves actual aerial suspension, which creates a very different experience than what people are used to with more traditional practices. Yoga in general offers a number of health and wellness benefits. Aerial silk yoga takes it to the next level with a whole host of additional benefits.
The first and most basic benefit of aerial silk yoga is that it is so new and so different. A novel experience, in and of itself, stimulates positive chemical reactions in the brain. This type of stimulation raises levels of certain brain chemicals such as Dopamine and promotes creation of a number of new brain connections. The benefits include improvements in mood and some protection from dementia. Any new experience will create a similar reaction in the brain, but the degree of stimulation created by aerial silks is on the very high end of the scale.
When you walk into a silk yoga studio the first thing you will notice are the vibrant colors of the swings. The space is as inviting as it is captivating, setting the stage for a graceful practice. Beauty has a powerful effect on the brain and aerial silks at the most basic level is just that, beautiful. It is easy to get caught up in what feels more like a romantic dance than a form of exercise, but that is exactly what you want to do. It is easier to escape into this peaceful world while cradled in the comfort of your silk sling. The sling provides comfort when you are trying to restore and an embrace of support when you are extending into a challenging pose. The new physical orientations, such as the many inverted positions, force the brain to quickly adapt in a number of different ways beyond just visually. It is difficult to match the magnitude of this new experience.
Beyond the neurochemical benefits derived from the new experience, aerial silks provides a number of psychological benefits. Hanging upside-down seems easy enough until you actually try to do it past the age of 22. It is natural for most people to experience some apprehension before their first silk inversion. Facing this natural fear and then actually overcoming it is a major psychological victory with far-reaching benefits. Most people live a life working around their fears and perceived limitations. Going past your first assisted inversion and becoming adept at initiating and controlling your own inversions blows the top off of living in fear. This actually builds confidence that spills over into other aspects of the person’s life, including career and relationships. People are amazed at how powerful this confidence builder can be. Feeling stronger mentally only facilitates getting stronger physically.
In addition to the neurochemical benefits of aerial silk yoga, the body derives a number of physical benefits as well. The partial neutralization of gravity in certain positions creates an effect of decompression on the spine and other joints. Improving flexibility in a decompressed position offers additional benefits over just basic flexibility work alone. This can help with common problems such as back and joint pain. The relief of pain without the use of medications is the optimal solution for an injury and improves quality of life. Inverted positions also help with lymphatic drainage and improve circulation. A body that heals efficiently only makes you feel good.
Feeling good and being healthy is a common goal for all of us. There are not many opportunities where we get to try something so radically new that we actually remember our “first time” doing it. Aerial silk yoga is exactly one of these rare opportunities. Face your fears and go hang yourself.
Dr Rodriguez is the founder of the Delray Center for Healing, Bamboo Garden Yoga, and Delray Aerial Yoga. Delray Aerial Yoga is a full-scale aerial silks yoga studio wit highly experienced instructors that caters to all skill and experience levels of students.