Saturday 19 August 2017

Anti-gravity Yoga: Turning fitness on its head

Laura and Vanessa hang out during a session
Laura and Vanessa hang out during a session

Sally Harding

A revolutionary regime that boosts your health and agility has just hit our shores, by Sally Harding.

FORGET everything you have ever heard about fitness, because a new mind blowing technique is taking Ireland by storm. AntiGravity Yoga is a revolutionary regime designed to increase your overall health and physical agility using an anti-gravity hammock. It was created by champion gymnast, acrobat and Broadway dancer Christopher Harrison and has become such a phenomenon in the States that people are quite literally queuing around the block to get into a class.

Christopher is a former champion tumbler gymnast who moved on to become a top dancer on Broadway where he merged his love for both dance and acrobatics and founded ‘AntiGravity’, an aerial arts performance troupe in New York, which has choreographed dazzling stage routines for stars including Pink, Mariah Carey and 50 Cent.

As a professional acrobat, Christopher began to feel the wear and tear of many years of dedicated training and performing on his muscles and decided to travel to India to study yoga before returning to NYC to put his new-found knowledge into play.

Back in The Big Apple, Christopher’s aerial company had been working hard to constantly try and defy gravity, when he suddenly got a light bulb moment and realised it would be a whole lot easier if you could just hang from the air.

Speaking exclusively to SWM from his studio in New York, Harrison told us: “In 1993 I saw a circus that had a beautiful hanging fabric and I instantly said ‘I have to have one of those’. It looked amazing but we didn’t know exactly what to do with this piece of material so I had the idea to loop it.”

AntiGravity was the first company to use the apparatus looped as a hammock and thus the AntiGravity yoga hammock was born. Now, for the first time ever in Ireland, AntiGravity Yoga classes are available thanks to Laura Armada Buch and her innovative company Labfitness, in Drogheda.

And when I paid a visit recently to Laura’s studios, where she soon had me hanging from the rafters in one of these amazing hammocks, I experienced first-hand how the technique can benefit one’s well being.

The method is a cross between yoga, dance, gymnastics, Pilates and aerial arts. AntiGravity has created a complete workout that is certain to get you in shape while realigning you from the compression of gravity.

As Christopher explains: “Our performers found that working this apparatus gave them a great core and upper-body workout and after long flights we couldn’t wait to hang upside down in the hammock for relief. After a while we didn’t need our chiropractors anymore.

“The main benefit is that it decompresses the spine. We sit all day and our hips and back get tight and when we run and walk we are also compressing.

“This is the one thing you can do to decompress your spine. You can perform advanced yoga inversions without neck or back compression refreshing every system in your body,” says Christopher.

The AntiGravity founder says it’s about working on the mind and spirit as well as the body. “At the beginning of class we bring everyone back to remember who they were before they were given a name or an ethnicity and at the end we remind ourselves that we are one with the entire universe.

“The atoms and particles that make up our bodies are not that different from the atoms that make up the stars. Sometimes when you take your mind to that place you expand the reality of the world and the things that bug you on a day today basis don’t seem nearly as big,” he adds.

The showbiz world can’t get enough of Christopher’s brainchild and he was asked to design an entrance for Jane Krakowski in the Broadway revival of NINE in which she emerged from the rafters in an Antigravity Hammock onto Antonio Banderas, a performance that won her a Tony Award.

Never to be out done, Mariah Carey followed suit and immediately contacted AntiGravity insisting she had to have a hammock in her show.

“For Mariah’s charm bracelet tour we took the hammock and made it into a giant M where she got in the middle and had butterfly wings, she thought it was fabulous,” says Christopher.

Most recently Pink stole the show at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards with an act on an AntiGravity Hammock. The act combined their aerial carousel with the AntiGravity Hammock, delivering an upside-down pose called the chandelier.

The Americans have certainly taken AntiGravity to their hearts, but how does Christopher think we’ll fair out in Ireland? “Really interestingly, the place where it has really seemed to take off is Ireland.

“The Irish are a very hardworking people, especially the women, and to know that they are coming in to class to get time to rejuvenate is amazing.

“You are challenging yourself to do something new and different outside of your comfort zone and whenever we do that we grow.

“I visited Ireland last year and I found it to be not only beautiful but truly magical, not just because of the landscape but because of the people. The Irish are going to adore this.”

To find a class in your area log on to www.antigravityyogaireland.com



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