How to Use a Yoga Swing
Also called a yoga hammock, trapeze, sling, or silks, a yoga swing is a prop used to enhance the practice of yoga. Made of silk or similar material, the yoga swing is suspended from a high point and works in tandem with the body to perform a fairly new form of yoga called “Aerial Yoga.”
Founded by Lucas Rockwood in the early 2000s, Aerial yoga is a yoga practice that uses modified postures to include the use of suspended fabric. This use of props helps to deepen the stretches that we find in a classic vinyasa yoga flow.
Why Aerial Yoga?
Similar to plain old yoga, aerial yoga has countless health benefits, however, it also has some very clever and useful differences to help you get even more out of your practice. The use of yoga swings allows you to do full inversions without having to worry too much about holding your balance — it gives you all the benefits of working handstands into your practice without the steep learning curve of having to hold them.
Additionally, aerial yoga invites you to deepen your stretches and really relax into them. The yoga swing takes the active stretches of vinyasa and makes them passive. Since the swing and gravity do most of the work of holding you safely in your posture, you are free to sink more deeply into your stretch.
The yoga swing also provides an opportunity to target different muscle groups than you would normally associate with certain poses. For example, on a mat, your upper plank position is predominantly working your arms and your core. However with a yoga swing, where your hips are supported, you have the opportunity to elevate your legs and feet, working the different muscle groups of your back and glutes.
Is Aerial Yoga for Me?
Aerial Yoga, much like other forms of yoga, is amazing for every body. Practicing this form of yoga regularly has been proven to decrease your stress hormone production while increasing your dopamine and serotonin levels.
Aerial yoga is also ideal for those who struggle with balance, as the sling always provides you with something to hold onto. The silks and gravity work to hold you in place so you don’t have to. This form of yoga is also said to be especially beneficial for those with back pain as it has a similar sensation and result as inversion therapy. By hanging upside down we allow our spine and other joints to decompress which provides some relief from chronic pain. This kind of yoga is highly recommended to those who spend the majority of their days sitting at a desk.
There are some things you simply can’t do on a yoga mat, like hang upside down. There are many benefits to using a yoga swing, so we want to encourage you to try it, but give you the resources to do so safely.
How to Use a Yoga Swing
1. Find a Class
Before you invest in your own rig, we recommend first trying an aerial yoga class near you. Find one with a simple Google Search. Nothing is worse than buying gear that gets used once and then collects dust in your closet. If you’re interested in taking up aerial yoga, maybe invest in a month-long membership at a studio where you will have some guidance and assistance if needed. After that, if you’re still eager to make it an at-home practice, you can start shopping for your very own sling.
2. Purchase & Set Up Your Rig
There are truly an unbelievable amount of options out there for even the most niche items. There are all kinds of Yoga Swings. Some have handles like the highly rated YOGABODY Naturals or no handles like the WELLSEM Aerial silk, or get both with the YOGA4You Aerial Swing Set. You’ll want to keep an eye out for durable material, if the swing comes or does not come with hanging hardware, and if there are clear hanging instructions. We made a handy shopping guide to walk you through some of the most popular swings.
It’s worth noting that many of the yoga swings featured in our guide have handles. This may or may not be helpful depending on the amount of stability you feel comfortable with and the type of exercises and poses you want to practiceff. Handles aren’t exactly necessary since you always have the fabric to hold onto. Depending on the kind of aerial yoga you practice, sometimes, the handles can be more of a nuisance to navigate around than anything. While handles are helpful in getting into your swing and adding a sense of security, they may not be for everyone.
It is also important to consider the surface area of the hammock when shopping for a yoga swing. In order to do a full, comfortable savasana, you want the hammock to be at least as wide as you are tall in order to support your entire body through the pose.
Once you have found your swing, the next step is to find a safe, sturdy place to hang it. We recommend a sturdy beam inside your home, or a sturdy tree branch. You can also buy an accompanying swing stand, or you could even hang your swings from the swingset at your local park. The key word here is sturdy. It is near impossible to relax your body and your mind if you’re worried about falling to the floor while you’re upside down in the middle of an inversion.
3. Test Your Swing
Before you go flipping around, you really want to make sure that your setup is more than able to bear your body weight (and by a significant margin, at that). The best way to do this is to first give it a good tug downwards. If it feels secure, you can further test it by straddling the swing like a horse with your feet beneath you ready to catch your fall. If it still feels nice and stable bearing all of your weight, you’re ready to go.
4. Get After it
Now that you have your swing set up and it’s safe to use, the only thing left to do is to get to work. You can utilize some of the flows you learned during your time taking those studio classes, or you could find one of the dozens of youtube videos to walk you through a Yoga Swing flow. Here’s a few we recommend:
Give it a Try
Whether you’re a seasoned yogi looking to change things up a bit, or a weekend warrior looking for something to straighten out your spine, Aerial Yoga is a great option to keep things interesting.
Frequently asked questions
You have a ton of options here. Many yogis invest in an aerial yoga stand, but the silks can be hung from beams in your home, outdoors on sturdy tree branches, or you can even rig them to hang in a door frame. As long as it’s sturdy enough to reliably hold your body weight, you can get a little creative with it.
This will be a bit different for everyone as it is based on your height. You want to be able to do a full inversion (flip upside down) with plenty of headroom, so usually the bottom of the sling should hit a hair lower than your hip bones while standing on your tip toes.
This depends a lot about where you hang it, but assuming your anchor is stable, most yoga swings can handle around 600 pounds. This varies with material and the type of hardware used to mount the swing, so always check with the manufacturer.