Planting the Seed

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Aerial for Back Pain


Most people, at some point in their life, have experienced back pain. Sometimes it goes away on its own, and sometimes medical intervention is needed.


Unfortunately I belong in the latter category. I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease in my mid 30's after experiencing ongoing nerve pain in my left leg. I had surgery to eliminate my nerve pain, but was told my back issues will not be "cured" by this surgery. They were right. In the years since, I have continued to have back and leg pain which led me to eventually search out alternatives to treating my pain. As luck would have it, my good friend and trainer, along with her partner, opened a new studio that offered Aerial Yoga.


Wow! here was a way to get some serious stretching in, using the hammock as a prop. Some of my beloved mat yoga poses took on a whole new life when taken to the air. And the inversions ... Within a couple of months I had my own aerial set-up at home, just so I could hang upside down. Soon I was madly in love with aerial and have become even more passionate about it since. There are so many benefits of aerial yoga. i personally have seen improvements in my strength, flexibility and balance. All of this has led to the most vneficial part for me, my back pain has lessened!


Using the hammock as a tool, we can hold on to it for balance, safely deepen stretches, and refine our poses. What you may not realize is that you're also building strength and confidence! In class we talk a lot about trusting yourself, trusting our body, and letting go. Although it sounds like a simple concept, it can be quite difficult for some of us to put it into practice. For chronic pain sufferers, that challenge can be even greater. With proper guidance through breath work and gentle movements, you can work towards focusing on what your body truly needs.


For some people, their favorite part of an aerial practice are inversions. It's just like it sounds, we go upside down! There are a a number of stretches we can access while inverted, all without compressing your spine. The best part is, when you are inverted your spine finds alignment, and allows space between your vertebrae. Believe me when I say, it feels delicious!


Weak abdominal muscles can often be the root problem of back pain for many people. Getting into and out of inversions requires you to activate those muscles, developing core strength that supports length in the lower back. Other poses in the hammock, such as plank pose and warrior poses help build core strength as well.


If hanging upside down is not your idea of a good time, don't worry! There are many other awesome ways to obtain spinal decompression using the aerial hammock. One of the greatest things about aerial yoga, is how much you can modify poses to fit your ability and comfort level. The possibilities to explore and advance your practice are endless!

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